In an interview on Friday, with Bill Mahers, Gloria Steinem suggested that the main reason Bernie Sanders has so much support from young women is so that they can meet boys: “When you’re young, you’re thinking, ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie.’” While Steinem has since apologized for her statement, I don’t really buy it and I’m starting to get offended.
In attempting to support Clinton, Steinem reduced young women to mindless bimbos who are unable to make rational political decisions on their own, and instead politic based on the whims of their hearts. Surely, revolutionary feminist Steinem does not agree that young women are incapable of critical decision-making. However, her views, and Albright’s, echo a widespread sentiment that drives the rhetoric that voting for anyone other than Clinton is both un-feminist and untenable.
I am a feminist and I support Bernie Sanders. It isn’t because he reminds me of my grandpa (which due to their shared Brooklyn accent and white hair, he really does). And it isn’t because of his “willingness to look and sound like a hot mess,” or that Hillary just isn’t cool enough. It also isn’t because his fervent fan base convinced me. It’s because after a careful analysis of Sanders’s and Clinton’s politics, my beliefs are more aligned with Sanders’. I also firmly believe that Sanders’ policies are feminist policies.
As Kevin Young and Diana C. Sierra Becerra wrote in their 2015 article, “All issues of wealth, power, and violence are also women’s and LGBT rights issues.” Sanders supports single-payer healthcare, women’s reproductive healthcare, free college tuition for public universities, and a $15 minimum wage -- all policies that benefit women in this country. Sanders has an established history supporting LGBTQ rights, in stark comparison to Clinton who supported DOMA and did not announce her support of gay marriage until 2013. Sanders’ history of opposing foreign wars, the Patriot Act, and the death penalty are all reasons that I support him for president. This is not an exhaustive list, it is merely illustrative of the fact that I, a young, female, millennial am capable of comparing two candidates and coming to my own feminist conclusions.
My support for Sanders does not mean that Clinton has not faced an enormous amount of misogyny and sexism in this election, and throughout her career. Nor is my support for Sanders unwavering. I have legitimate qualms about some of his policies. I’m worried about his age. I’m worried about his effectiveness implementing his policies once in the White House (though, to be honest I am not sure that Clinton will do any better).
That said, my support for Sanders is indeed rooted in my feminist beliefs. Beliefs that recognize the complexity of womanhood, and the need for intersectional politics that acknowledge race, gender identity, class, and more. I have to support the candidate that I feel embodies those beliefs and I truly believe that Sanders will be the better candidate for all women. After all, I don’t want to end up in that special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.