Monday, February 8, 2016

Are Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright Sexist?

Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem
by Catherine Giordano

Bill Maher and Gloria Steinem had a wide ranging conversation during the interview segment on Real Time with Bill Maher on February 5, 2016. But one-minute of that interview is getting all the attention. The claim is that Steinem thinks that girls only support Bernie Sanders because the boys are supporting him.

By the way, Steinem has been misquoted a lot. What she actually said was “When you are young what you are thinking is where are the boys—the boys are with Bernie.” Maher said, “If I said that … “ and then mimed having his face slapped. Steinem replied, “No. How well do you know me?” It’s not clear if she was retracting her statement or merely saying she wouldn’t slap Maher for being sexist.

A day later on February 6th at a rally in New Hampshire every sitting female senator (except for Elizabeth Warren) was on the stage at a rally for Hillary Clinton.. Other females who hold or have held elected office were there also. The first female secretary of state for the U.S.A. Madeleine Albright was also there. The purpose of this rally was to show women standing in solidarity to support the possible first woman president of the United States. At the conclusion of a brief speech, Albright said “There is a special place in Hell for women who do not support other women.”

Horrors! Are these two icons of feminism and exemplars of women who have achieved success sexist?

Are Steinem and Albright Sexist?

Of course not! Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright were fighting for the goals of feminists before most of us had even heard the word.

If Steinem and Albright are guilty of anything they are guilty of not understanding young women and how feminism has changed since they were young women. Their comments reflected the situation that applied when they were young.

Albright is 78 years old and Steinem is 81,and they are still fighting for the advancement of women. We should applaud them for continuing the fight at their advanced age. As Steinem said during the interview with Maher, “Most people my age are dead.”

When Steinem and Albright were young, women were a small minority on college campuses and they openly admitted that they went to college to get their MRS degree. Today the majority of the people getting college degrees are women. It was the feminists like Steinem and Albright that made that possible.

I’m younger than Steinem and Albright, but I remember when I was a young woman frequently hearing the suggestion that if a single woman wanted to meet an “eligible” man, she should volunteer for a political campaign because it is “where the boys are.” Steinem was probably accessing that memory when she made her comment.

Back in the day, women had to fight hard and stick together to change how women were treated in society. The men had the "old boys network" and women needed to have something similar. This is probably why Albright made the comment about women supporting other women. She didn’t come up with this line just for Hillary’s benefit. She has been saying it for years. It was a light-hearted comment; it was a joke and everyone on stage laughed. Unfortunately, I have read reports that make it sound like Albright was literally damning young women to Hell.

The young women of today take the freedom’s and opportunities that they have for granted. They don’t even want to be called feminists. They have no understanding of what it was like for an earlier generation of women.

Take a look at Steinem's new book about her life's journey as a leading feminist. I recommend this book to young women. I lived it; they didn't.

CLICK HERE for a free preview of
 My Life on the Road 

The reaction to these two comments is what I call “taking calculated offense.” No one is really offended, but they pretend to be because it serves their purpose. Albright was merely trying to tell young women that it is important for women to support each other. Steinem is in no way connected to the Clinton campaign so whatever she says is merely her opinion and is irrelevant.

Are the Bernie Bros sexist?

You bet your sweet bippy they are. The "Bernie Bros" is a name given to the men who are all over the internet insulting women with profanity and threats for merely expressing an opinion in favor of Hillary. It is ugly and scary.

I myself have experienced a mild form of this from some men who dislike my opinions. They condescend by calling me “My Dear” or suggesting I’m writing because I am bored housewife. The insults I have received are nothing compared to what the “Bernie Bros” are dishing up, but I can understand how these ugly comments are meant to intimidate women into silence.

What does any of this have to do with Clinton and Sanders?

Absolutely nothing. The comments or Steinem and Albright have nothing to do with Clinton’s campaign. And let me make it clear that I don't think that Bernie shares the views of his "Bros," but perhaps it explains why Sanders is doing so well in polls and votes. It suggests that some of the people supporting him are not so much for him as they are against the idea of a woman president.

Here is the video tape of the Maher-Steinem interview. The “Where the Boys Are” segment comes at the 3:45 mark.

By the way, Steinem apologized the next day retracted her statement, and praised women for their activism in the political arena.   

Here is a video clip of the Madeleine Albright statement. Notice everyone is laughing at the "special place in Hell" joke.