The Democratic primaries are fast approaching, and things are getting dicey in the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders camps. On Hillary’s side, you have people insisting that Sanders is unelectable, old, bad for women, and inefficient. On Sanders’ side, you have misogynists, sexists, kids with a penchant for memes, and conspiracy theories. However, none of that is as odious as what Gloria Steinem said to Bill Maher this week.
In case you don’t know, Gloria Steinem was one of the leaders of the feminist movement in the 1970s and 1980s. She’s given a lot of credit for opening up the dialogue about feminism and making the philosophy more widespread. She’s also one of the few “old school” feminists willing to update her ideology, freely promoting the role of black women and men in the movement, the diversity of genders, and the strength of millennials.
It was thus incredibly shocking when she claimed that the reason young women were siding with Bernie Sanders is because, “When you’re young, you’re thinking, ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie?’” And so, to gain the approval and praise of boys, you align with Bernie Sanders. Clearly, there is no other reason.
Now, I’m still in the Hillary camp and am likely to be so unless she loses the nomination, but even I know that claiming that women will only vote for Bernie Sanders to please men is absurd. There are just so many things wrong with that statement. For one, it explicitly states that young women will only make political choices to please men. For another, it erases queer young women, making every female Bernie supporter heterosexual. And finally, it negates Bernie’s many good ideals such as single-payer healthcare, free college tuition, and taxes on Wall Street transactions.
The fact of the matter is that, while some young women may be influenced by the men in their lives, almost all of them will choose a Presidential candidate based on who they personally think is best. Sometimes, the decision will be shallow and based on their sex. More often than not, the decision will be based on the candidate’s alignment with that person’s values. Will they fund Planned Parenthood? Will they fight to keep the Affordable Care Act? Will they expand veterans’ benefits? Almost everyone understands the gravity of choosing our next President and unless they have absolutely unshakeable confidence in another person, they’re not going to give up their vote to them.
Quite frankly, Gloria Steinem’s statement is inexcusable and does nothing to further feminism, her Presidential candidate, or her image as a feminist icon. Calling an entire generation of women vapid airheads controlled by their libido does not show solidarity with women: it shows judgment. And if Gloria truly believed that the newest generation of female voters is as radical, feminist, and active as she claimed, she would have thought twice before dismissing them. Instead, she let her prejudice think and ended up fucking over Hillary, feminism, and herself.
* Image taken from https://newrepublic.com/minutes/129335/feminist-gloria-steinem-says-young-women-support-bernie-want-attention-boys