By: Brett Slaughenhaupt – Sophomore, English
To be a woman in modern times is to live in a constant contrary state. With feminism growing in speed and strength every day, the expectation is that we find men and women treated in similar fashions—as equals. However, as we are all human, bound to our nature of making mistakes, every progressive step forward is met with an equal and opposite step backward.
Take the statements made during a recent campaign rally for Hillary Clinton by notable feminists Gloria Steinem and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright:
“And, when you’re [a young woman], you’re thinking, where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie…” Steinem stated.
“There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other,” Albright declared.
Both women are referring to the current competition for the Democratic presidential nomination between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and the demographics both are pulling for. After the minority vote, the support of the female vote is vastly important to both potential candidates as each comes closer to clinching the nomination. Sanders currently has the upper hand when it comes to the millennial female vote, much to the surprise of Clinton: At the most recent primary in New Hampshire, Sanders had 82 percent of the votes coming from women under 30.
While this might strike one as interesting, it should not be a time in which one’s autonomy or loyalty is called into question. To suggest that women are blindly backing Sanders only because their male counterparts are or that a woman is a traitor to her own gender for not being on Clinton’s side is a ridiculous argument. Making the implication that feminism is better served, and possibly only served, under a woman, as Steinem and Albright have done, is to lock men out of feminism. This sentiment is counterproductive to everything that feminism stands for and alienates the male gender from being involved in the fight that so many have been imploring them to become a part of.
Steinem and Albright’s statements are politics disguised as feminism, nothing more. That these two renowned feminist leaders would try to manipulate their fellow women into believing what they want them to is a very poor example to make for the up-and-coming women finding their way in the largely misogynistic world of politics. One cannot argue that men and women are equally capable of effective leadership, then assert that a candidate’s gender is what makes them a better candidate–or have that argument made for them by Steinem and Albright.
Of course, Clinton and Sanders are going to be bringing different points of view to the table, affected by many different aspects of their life. To assume that gender does not play any sort of role in their nomination would be ignorant and post-feminist, but it should not be any sort of clinching factor to one’s choice—that assumption is equally ignorant. Instead of using any sort of gender-card, how about one exemplifies their better leadership simply through beliefs and policies?
It is entirely contradictory to have equality of the genders and then expect people to base their decisions strictly off of gender. Once we stop viewing things in black and white, male and female, gay or straight, we will begin to see things for the nuanced ways that they are; society will be all the better for it.