It seems every week now, a new article comes out in some mainstream media source on Wellesley students’ voting choices. “Hillary Battles Bernie Sanders, Chick Magnet,” reads one New York Times op-ed. Wellesley for Bernie cannot come out with a video of support for Bernie Sanders without it appearing in The Washington Post, nor can Wellesley Students for Hillary president, Hannah Lindow ’16, do so much as express her support for Hillary without an extensive piece written up in Time Magazine.
The students and alumnae from Wellesley have long been making news, but the recent stream of sensationalist journalism that has descended upon the campus is abnormal. It highlights the underlying misogyny of our culture and the assumption that young women such as ourselves cannot make intelligent, meaningful decisions as individuals. An article published in The Boston Globe on Sunday regarding the Wellesley democratic vote portrayed students as impressionable.
Wellesley is the best women’s college in the world and has educated some of the most brilliant, successful and interesting women in recent history. The big names like Hillary Rodham Clinton ’69 and Madeleine Korbel Albright ’59 make the news the most often, but many other alumnae have broad influences. In high school, I watched “Killing Us Softly”, a film series on the lectures of Jean Kilbourne ’64. I’ve laughed hysterically watching “When Harry Met Sally”, written by Nora Ephron ’62. I recently learned that one of the pioneers in stellar classification is a Wellesley alumna, Annie Jump Cannon, class of 1884. The list goes on, but the idea is simple: we know what we’re doing. These articles, however, seem to imply that we at Wellesley can only make one type of decision: blind support for the angry feminist cause. And when we don’t, we’re breaking away from something predestined.
Some articles read as though it is incredible that there is debate on our campus over whom to vote for, as if we have some ongoing cat-fight. There is the assumption that we come to Wellesley and immediately buy into the herd mentality. I can assume that every voter on this campus has thought about why they are voting for their candidate. For some, it may be important that Hillary is an alumna.
For others, it may not matter. No one is flocking to the University of Chicago, where Bernie Sanders attended, so I can only assume that the focus is on us as the women’s college that educated Hillary. A simple Google search with “wellesley college” or “uchicago” plus each candidate shows stark differences in press coverage. UChicago has a Hillary fan club, but there are no New York Times articles written on them. All of this intrigue and questioning of our voting choices takes away from our agency.
The language used in these articles does nothing to show the empowerment we feel at Wellesley, even if we do have our own internal struggles. “Bernie Sanders is Winning Feminists, Even at Hillary Clinton’s Alma Mater,” reads another Time Magazine article.
The perception that these articles perpetuate is that Wellesley women that are supporting Bernie, such as myself, have a vitriolic hatred of Hillary, and that those who support Hillary do so only because she is an alumna and a woman. While it may be true that Hillary being a Wellesley alumna influences some students’ decision, we are still individuals with our own opinions. The fact that I think Hillary is an incredibly impressive woman and I still have my #Ready poster hanging on my wall at home doesn’t mean that my support for Bernie is diminished or questionable.
This is the first presidential race in which a woman is a real contender for the nomination and has already made history as a senator, Secretary of State and presidential candidate. In continuing with our progress, we need to change the way that young women are talked about in politics, especially since these articles demonstrate that the mainstream media only knows one way to do so.
Sabrina Leung ‘18 is the Digital Editor majoring in International Relations-Political Science with a minor in History. She is best reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @sabrinatzleung on Twitter.