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Steinem and Albright are Heroes Turned Hypocrites

Steinem and Albright are Heroes Turned Hypocrites

In an attempt to gather the force of young female voters, Hillary Clinton’s older female supporters have come to her side. However, rather than encouraging women to recognize Clinton’s platform in an insightful manner, feminist icons Gloria Steinem and Madeline Albright have done the exact opposite: shame them.

In an interview with Bill Maher this week, Steinem and Maher discussed Clinton’s inability to resonate with young female voters in the way that her opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, has. When asked why this was the case, Steinem claimed that girls supported Sanders to appeal to boys. “When you’re young, you’re thinking, where are the boys?” she said. “The boys are with Bernie.”

To imply that women are incapable of possessing their own judgment on issues is outrageously offensive and, quite frankly, hypocritical. Not to mention that Steinem’s statement also disregards lesbian women entirely. When claims were made by anti-Hillary advocates that many women supported Clinton simply because she was a woman, the remarks were slammed by various campaign supporters for being blatantly sexist. They portrayed female voters as unequipped to formulate legitimate, critical political views and were, without a doubt, unacceptable. So what makes Gloria Steinem’s remarks any less insulting? How can a figure, who has been a symbol for female empowerment to generations of women, think such comments are justified?

At a Clinton rally this past weekend, former secretary of state Madeleine Albright urged women to come together in their fight for equality. Her method of doing so was by brashly scolding them.  Albright warned the crowd with her words of wisdom from 2006, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”

Why Ms. Albright found it acceptable to shame women for holding views that vary from her own is beyond belief. Feminism strives to empower women with autonomy to make decisions for themselves. Instead of being told what to do, women are encouraged to use their own voice. Ms. Albright, or anyone for that matter, is certainly not entitled to diminishing that liberty.

Sanders is nearly doubling Clinton in New Hampshire polls. In Iowa, he won female voters 29 and younger by nearly 6 to 1. So yes, it should absolutely be an objective for

Clinton to resonate with young voters— especially female voters. However, the recent tactics of her supporters will only push more women away. They come off as desperate attempts and portray Clinton’s campaign in a manner that she is certainly above.

As an unapologetic feminist and passionate Sanders supporter, I can assure Ms. Steinem that my political support is not a result of any desire to impress boys. I can guarantee Ms. Albright that my decision-making skills go far beyond one qualification. Issues such as campaign finance reform, single-payer healthcare, and systemic racism are just a few areas in which Sanders has spoken to my beliefs directly. The fact that I have to defensively justify my support for him, just to prove that I am capable of engaging in critical thinking and decision making, is an insult to me as a woman. The use of harassing rhetoric aimed to pressure women to feel ashamed and insecure about their intentions as voters discredits everything feminism stands for.

While I have looked up to both Steinem and Albright as role models in their fight for women’s rights, they have left me disappointed and distraught. Steinem has since apologized for her statement, claiming she misspoke. However, her words still echo a message that women have heard for far too long. A message, now coming from the very women we looked up to, telling us that maybe we can’t do things by ourselves after all. 

I don’t deserve to be bullied into feeling as though I am betraying women for simply having different beliefs, nor does any female voter. I respect Hillary Clinton greatly, which is why I find these recent remarks from her supporters tremendously unsettling. We are at a time where the political sphere is thriving with energy. Discourse has spurred on a number of serious, relevant issues. It is my hope that every woman feels confident in exploring those issues and, ultimately, powerful in whatever decision she chooses to make.

- Jami Tanner