When feminist icons misspeak, Clinton passes up a valuable opportunity

     Gloria Steinem is shown in her home in New York in October of 2015. (Seth Wenig/AP Photo, file)

    Gloria Steinem is shown in her home in New York in October of 2015. (Seth Wenig/AP Photo, file)

    Like most candidates, Hillary Clinton has enlisted a powerful and prominent following filled with women I greatly admire. All the while, I keep asking myself, “Shouldn’t this make me excited?” The past few days seem to have given me my answer.

    First there was Iowa, now New Hampshire. On Tuesday, Bernie Sanders dominated the youth vote, with 25 percent of the votes belonging to women.

    I am a recent college graduate, a woman, and an undecided voter, part of the base Hillary Clinton is so desperate to secure. I am also part of the feminist community wanting to see more female representation in every branch of government. While I choose to strictly vote on policies, I support those who include gender as one of the reasons why they are voting for Clinton. The assumption that these individuals are uninformed voters is a real problem. Yet the even larger issue is the pressure and chastisement from campaigners like Madeleine Albright, who have suggested that who do not do so are acting against their own sex.

    I am not here to sway your vote from Clinton to Sanders, or vice versa. I myself have been in a pendulum-like state of mind when it comes to picking my candidate, wedged among policies, voting records, and an overall concern for general electability. I am determined not to settle, but to also vote intelligently to guarantee another Democrat in the White House.

    Clinton faces the unfortunate hurdles that come with being a woman in politics. She is also fully conscious of the disconnect between herself and young voters, whether it is due to her personal approach, elements of her track record, or her unavoidable ties to Wall Street.

    Like most candidates, Clinton has enlisted a powerful and prominent following filled with women I greatly admire. All the while, I keep asking myself, “Shouldn’t this make me excited?” The past few days seem to have given me my answer.

    This week, Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright both left me speechless, disappointed, and, quite frankly, embarrassed. I have idolized Ms. Steinem since I was a child and have had the pleasure of hearing her articulate herself firsthand. However, she chalked up young women’s gravitation to Sanders to hormones and infatuation, claiming, “When you’re young, you’re thinking: ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie.'” Not only is this a very basic sexist remark, it is a slap in the face to the integrity of young women and a true disappointment from a woman who has worked to bridge the gap between second- and third-wave feminists.

    Steinem has since issued an apology. Madeleine Albright, however, has stood by her words from a recent Clinton rally, where she claimed “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” Hillary refused to rebuke the statement despite extensive outcry against it.

    I realized that this is not the first time I sensed pressure coming from the Clinton campaign. As a strong politician and one who has paved the way for many other women who wish to engage in legislature, why is Clinton siding with intimidation? Yes, Albright’s own achievements are renowned, but it feels like Clinton passed up a valuable chance to unify her female listeners by condemning a statement that is so divisive. Her actions did little service to encourage other women to feel confident about engaging in the political process.

    Bernie Sanders’ success is built on a robust sense of unification. If Clinton is so determined to build a strong female base, then why is she allowing us to be discredited and shamed?

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