By Natasha Blakely
MI First Election
It is a harsh thing to hear older feminist icons publicly dismiss entire groups of women involved in politics, especially when it is already hard enough for a woman to get involved. Madeleine Albright, the first female secretary of state, joked that there was “a special place in hell” for women who don’t help other women in her speech urging women to support Hillary Clinton. Gloria Steinem suggested in an interview that young women were supporting Bernie Sanders because that is where the boys were. Numerous women, regardless of their party affiliation, were taken aback by those comments.
MSU student Sarah Albus, 18, said, “I don’t think you have to support a female presidential candidate just because you are female. You can support strong male figures as well. It’s equality. One isn’t better than the other. Women aren’t better than men, and men aren’t better than women.”
Another student, 19-year-old Sam Engelmeier, had similar ideas.
“I think people will support who they want to support, whether it’s because that’s where the boys are or not. But you shouldn’t just vote for someone because they’re the same gender as you. You should vote for someone because they stand for the same things you do, not because of what they are,” said Engelmeier.
Fatima Mroue, 21, noted an irony in Albright’s statement.
“I think it’s interesting to say there’s a place in hell for women who don’t support other women and put down women supporting Bernie. It’s hypocritical,” said Mroue.
The common point that many young women had in their reactions to Albright’s and Steinem’s comments was their personal interest in politics, fueled by a desire to more than follow after the boys or to simply vote for another woman.
The founder of the Babes for Bernie social media community, Kathleen Graves, had strong feelings about the comments by Albright and Steinem. Graves stated that she did not used to be interested in politics, until a friend convinced her to watch a Sanders video. Roughly a month later, after reading about Neil Young supporting Sanders, she started looking up more of Sanders’s videos.
“Really it’s jaw-dropping and highly offensive,” said Graves. “It’s so categorically off to think women are doing it for the boys, because they’re not doing their own research.”
Babes for Bernie is an online community of women united in their support for Sanders that spans various social media platforms. Over Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, women have shared photos of themselves in various Sanders shirts, with Sanders buttons, with homemade posters supporting Sanders and more through Babes for Bernie.
“It’s really important to get women involved at all levels,” said Graves. “Will there be a woman as president in the future? Absolutely, but we need Mrs. Right, not Mrs. Right Now.”