Over the weekend, feminist icon and writer Gloria Steinem and the first female Secretary of State Madeleine Albright both faced backlash over their remarks suggesting that young women who support Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton are misguided. During an interview on Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday, Steinem argued that women became more radical and politically interested as they grew older, suggesting that young women have some non-political motives to flock to Sanders. “When you’re young, you’re thinking, ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie,’” Steinem said. An incredulous Maher, realizing that the remark wasn’t exactly a feminist position, responded, “Oh. Now if I said that, ‘They’re for Bernie because that’s where the boys are,’ you’d swat me,” but Steinem brushed it off.
Introducing Clinton at a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Saturday, Albright also took a swipe at Sanders, saying that a true revolution would be electing a woman to be the president of the United States. “We can tell our story of how we climbed the ladder, and a lot of you younger women think it’s done,” Albright said. “It’s not done. There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”
The remarks from the two icons come at a time when Sanders is outpacing Clinton in support from young women, which is hard to swallow for those who see a Clinton presidency as a milestone in the struggle for gender equality.
Nevertheless, many young women believed the remarks by Steinem and Albright were patronizing and effectively undermined feminism. One Sanders supporter and self-described feminist, 23-year old Zoe Trimboli, took to Facebook, scolding the two for implying she should base her vote on a candidate’s gender. “I can tell you that shaming me and essentially calling me misinformed and stupid is NOT the way to win my vote,” Trimboli wrote. On Sunday, Steinem responded to the backlash with a post on Facebook, saying, “In a case of talk-show Interruptus, I misspoke on the Bill Maher show recently, and apologize for what’s been misinterpreted as implying young women aren’t serious in their politics.” She added, “Whether they gravitate to Bernie or Hillary, young women are activist and feminist in greater numbers than ever before.”
Susan Sarandon, a vocal Bernie Sanders supporter, even weighed in on the controversy with a post on Twitter, declaring that women who aren’t voting for Clinton are “being shamed. Later, she retweeted a post by Mia Farrow, in which the actress said the comment was the “least feminist remark Ms.Steinem has ever uttered.”
— Susan Sarandon (@SusanSarandon) February 7, 2016
No matter what side of the issue you fall on, one thing that’s undeniable is just how much things have changed over the last 20 years. Footage has surfaced of Steinem attending a rally for Bernie Sanders during his 1996 reelection campaign. During her speech at the event, the feminist icon memorably remarked, “Actually I’m only here today to make Bernie Sanders an honorary woman.” Watch the video below. The quip comes comes at the 15:45 mark.
Read the full story at The New York Times.