On Bill Maher’s show, the feminist icon Gloria Steinem was speculating about why young people, and young women in particular, were so solidly behind Bernie Sanders instead of Hillary Clinton and she said something that surprised me.
“Women are more for [Clinton] than men are. …First of all, women get more radical as we get older, because we experience. …Not to over-generalize, but … men tend to get more conservative because they gain power as they age, women get more radical because they lose power as they age.
And, when you’re young, you’re thinking, where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie…”
In that last sentence, I thought that she was insulting young women by suggesting that they were supporting Sanders merely because they were seeking men, denying them any sense of independent political thought and agency. Needless to say, she was criticized for her remarks and later apologized on Facebook, saying that she “misspoke”.
But her other comments about the correlation of aging, power, and gender was something that I had not heard suggested before.
There are several propositions that she seems to conflating: (1) that men get more conservative as they get older; (2) that women get more radical as they get older; (3) that men get more power as they age; (4) that women lose power as they age; and (5) that more/less power correlates with conservative/radical views.
Each of these propositions should be independently testable. I haven’t heard if there is convincing evidence to support any of them though there may well be and it just hasn’t crossed my path. The fact that she apologized for her remarks is likely because she does not know of any either and had not really thought it through, always a dangerous thing if you are a high profile figure speaking on controversial issues in a very public forum.
Meanwhile, former secretary of state Madeleine Albright created another controversy by seeming to also patronize women by suggesting that they were required to put gender loyalty above all else.
Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright introduced Hillary Clinton at an event in New Hampshire on Saturday, telling the crowd and voters in general: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”
“People are talking about revolution. What kind of a revolution would it be to have the first woman president of the United States?”
The preposterousness of this is much greater and can be exposed by asking her whether she would suggest that women automatically should prefer Carly Fiorina or Sarah Palin over any male candidate, Bernie Sanders or otherwise?
Of course, we have to take Albright’s comments about special places being reserved in hell seriously because she herself has an entire suite reserved there for her own appalling response back in 1996 when she was asked whether the US-backed sanctions on Iraq had been worth the estimated deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children. She callously replied that the ultimate price paid by all those children was worth it to achieve US goals. Watch.
In trying to defend Albright’s remarks Clinton, taking a leaf out of the Republican playbook, hauls out political correctness, that people are far too easily offended these days.
“I don’t want people to be offended,” Clinton said. But when asked if she understood why some women did take offense, she suggested political correctness had made Americans overly sensitive.
“Good grief, we’re getting offended by everything these days!” she said. “People can’t say anything without offending somebody.”
Clinton even used her gender to defend herself from the charge that she is a creature of the establishment, saying in the last debate, “Well, look, I’ve got to just jump in here because, honestly, Senator Sanders is the only person who I think would characterize me, a woman running to be the first woman president, as exemplifying the establishment.”
But surely she must know that the establishment welcomes anyone who serves their needs. In fact, they particularly welcome women, minorities, and any marginalized groups into their fold, provided they are not in too large a number to dominate, because it helps them claim a legitimacy that they would otherwise lack and deflect accusations that they are an exclusive club.