For many college students, the 2016 election represents their first opportunity to vote. I have found myself asking: if I support feminism, am I obligated to support Hillary Clinton? Two feminist trailblazers–the first female secretary of state Madeleine Albright, and Gloria Steinem–believe an affirmative yes is the answer to my question. This past weekend, Albright and Steinem criticized young female supporters of Clinton’s opponent, Bernie Sanders.
Albright stated that electing a female president would be revolutionary, a fact with which we can all agree. Many countries, such as Australia, Canada, France, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom, have already had a woman leader. The United States is certainly behind in that sense. Albright went on to say that younger women do not fully understand the continuous struggle for gender equality. Invoking her signature phrase, Albright remarked “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!” If Clinton took on the beliefs of another candidate…say Donald Trump…would we women still be on a one-way trip to hell for not supporting her? In a world where political correctness has become an epidemic, Albright’s words could be considered rather judgmental.
Steinem has since apologized, but she is still responsible for her statements. In an interview with talk show host Bill Maher, Steinem suggested the reason young women are supporting Sanders is to meet men. Steinem declared “When you’re young, you’re thinking: ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie.” To Ms. Steinem: if I choose to cast my vote for Senator Sanders, it will not be because I am seeking a Valentine’s Day date.
Albright’s and Steinem’s comments reflect Clinton’s frustration with her struggle to capture the support of young women. While the endorsements of these two wildly successful women would be a boost to any candidate, their condescending statements may backfire. Implying that young women involved in the political process are ignorant and irresponsible is not an effective tactic. For someone like myself who is still undecided on who to support this election, this did not persuade me to support Clinton. The idea that votes “belong” to any candidate is hogwash. If Clinton does indeed receive the democratic nomination, one must wonder if Sanders’s faction will stand behind her.
These remarks do not negate the great work Albright and Steinem have done for women and for our country. I also understand their desire to see a woman sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office during their lifetime. However, it is my responsibility to support a candidate based on principles and policies, not gender, race, or ethnicity. Should we really be undermining the fact that women are intelligent enough to make their own decisions? Someday, I would love to see a woman president. However, I do not believe that this woman must necessarily be Hillary Clinton.