Dear Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem, you have lost your way. For the longest time, you were both icons of equality and feminism.
But last week, you let down so many women who had clung to your every word as children.
Last week, the two prominent pioneers in women’s rights spoke out against young women who are choosing to cast their vote with Bernie Sanders rather than Hillary Clinton. Their logic: voting for Clinton is the feminist thing to do.
Steinem had an interview last Friday with Bill Maher on his show, “Real Time with Bill Maher,” in which she insinuated that women were only voting for Sanders because men were.
“When you’re young, you’re thinking: ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie,’” she said.
This statement is insulting. It assumes that young female voters are incapable of independent thought and are only voting for a candidate because of their supposed attachment to men. Not because Sanders has consistently put the rights of the LBGT community in the limelight since the 80s, or because he was active in the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s, or because he has made a career-long platform based on representing the underprivileged and lower class.
Albright introduced Clinton at a rally in New Hampshire last week. She took shots at women who were choosing not to vote for Clinton.
“We can tell our story of how we climbed the ladder, and a lot of you younger women think it’s done. It’s not done,” she said. “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”
Well I guess that hell is where we are all going to be for electing a feminist to office – Bernie Sanders. And what joyous hell it will be. All the fiery closing of the wage gap and burning paid maternity leave sure sounds like harsh punishment for voting for the candidate that has a better voting record on feminist issues.
In reality, the “feminist thing to do” is to vote for the candidate who consistently puts the needs of those facing inequities at a higher premium in an attempt to change the status quo. Feminism is not only about the advancement of women. It is about the advancement of equality. It is about women’s rights, LBGT rights and minority rights. It is about representing the systemically oppressed groups in this nation.
Voting for someone because of his or her sex – is sexist. If you are voting for a someone solely because she has a vagina, that is just as sexist as not voting for someone because she has a one. A person’s sex has nothing to do with his or her candidacy. It does not affect his or her ability to be president.
There are more pressing issues than electing the first female president. We understand that this moment would be iconic. And it will happen – there is no doubt in a feminist’s mind that there is a qualified woman somewhere in America making the gains necessary to be president.
That woman just does not happen to be Clinton.
Ideally, feminists want to choose the best candidate to represent women and minorities. We want that candidate to fight for the rights of the underrepresented. You do not have to be female to do those things – and to insinuate that you do is completely sexist.
Feminists come in all sexes and genders.
We aren’t sheep.
We are intelligent and educated voters who have come to the conclusion that Steinem’s and Albright’s kind of feminism is not what we need.
This is one of those moments when a movement has moved past its oldest proponents. We have lived long enough to see our heroes become this generation’s bigots.