The political realm is notorious for being male-dominated and has received scrutiny for being so. The US ranks 75th out of 190 countries in the world for female participation in government. This statistic is concerning, but it does not mean women should vote for every female political candidate. Gender equality requires equal consequence for equal action, and this especially needs to be true in politics.
Feminist figures Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright have different opinions. They hypocritically want people to vote for gender over policy. The duo have recently scolded young women for not voting for Hillary Clinton. Albright—the first woman to become Secretary of State—correctly stated that the fight for true gender equality has not been achieved in absolute. However, she continued her dialogue with the claim, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”
Gloria Steinem, an important figure in many young feminists’ minds, disappointingly went as far to say young women were only voting for Sanders because their male counterparts were. By saying this, she implied young women’s thoughts do not expand beyond flirting and pleasing. After backlash, she took to Facebook to apologize and recognize that “young women are activists and feminists in greater numbers than ever before.”
It is hypocritical for two influential women who did so much for gender equality to promote preference because of gender. Feminism is an all-inclusive movement that should not have stipulations outside of gender equality. It transcends political preference, gender, race and class. It doesn’t divide. It unites.
Elizabeth Hedrick, a UT professor who specializes in feminist theory, said in an email that “Steinem’s remark that younger women are going for Sanders because ‘that’s where the boys are’ (or words to that effect) is, in this context, pointedly unfair. I think she meant it as a joke, but her comment trivializes the political judgement and commitment of younger women voters.”
Janet Davis, a UT professor who specializes in women’s history, said she does not think the criticism holds, but that it does represent a generational divide in the idea of feminism.
“The very act of having a woman president- actually having female bodies in positions of power- for these older feminists is so important.” Davis said. “Whereas for younger women, given a world in which there has been at least more women in powerful positions... having a woman president would be great, but at the same time not quite as frated in the same political way as the generation represented by Albright and Steinem.”
Both women are influential figures, but their words are incorrect. They are preying on the archaic belief that younger generations are incapable of making informed decisions, and that gender is a factor to consider in qualification. While a woman president would be an empowering landmark, policy should be the deciding factor. Being a feminist means being empowered to make decisions for one’s self, not for others.