Where the Boys Are: Gloria Steinem redefines feminism

I might have to stop quoting Madeleine Albright.

Y’all know how I like to cite her “indispensable nation” explanation of America’s role in the world.

Well, after she said this, in the context of supporting Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders, I may have to give the Albright quotes a rest:

While introducing Mrs. Clinton at a rally in New Hampshire on Saturday, Ms. Albright, 78, the first female secretary of state, talked about the importance of electing a woman to the country’s highest office. In a dig at the “revolution” that Mr. Sanders, 74, often speaks of, she said the first female commander in chief would be a true revolution. And she scolded any woman who felt otherwise.

“We can tell our story of how we climbed the ladder, and a lot of you younger women think it’s done,” Ms. Albright said of the broader fight for women’s equality. “It’s not done. There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”…

Yikes. Really? You think hell is organized that way? Huh.

Then there’s what Gloria Steinem had to say on the subject:

Ms. Steinem, 81, one of the most famous spokeswomen of the feminist movement, took the sentiment a step further on Friday in an interview with the talk show host Bill Maher. Explaining that women tend to become more active in politics as they become older, she suggested that younger women were backing Mr. Sanders just so they could meet young men.

“When you’re young, you’re thinking: ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie,’ ” Ms. Steinem said….


You know, over the decades, I’ve often had to get people to explain to me what feminism actually is. Is it that we’re supposed to appreciate that women are different and value them as they are instead of uphold masculine modes of being as the ideal? Or is it that we’re supposed to believe that there are no differences? Sometimes it seems it’s one, sometimes the other.

That’s confusing enough (and apparently, the answer is “either,” depending on the brand of feminism to which you subscribe). But now, I’m definitely going to have to go back to Remedial Consciousness Raising, circa 1970, because Gloria Steinem, who I thought was supposed to embody feminism, has really thrown me for a loop…

12 thoughts on “Where the Boys Are: Gloria Steinem redefines feminism

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I think it represents a big step in our society’s descent into barbarism. Or it will, if we act upon it.

      Such a statement, of course, calls for elaboration — quite a bit of elaboration, I think you’ll agree — which is why I haven’t blogged about it yet….

      1. Doug Ross

        If there has been a descent into barbarism, the Vietnam War was likely the tipping point.

        Anyway, I think Gloria Steinem always cherished her role in feminism as the “pretty one” (relatively). It helps when you’re standing next to Betty Friedan. In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is King.

  1. Karen Pearson

    I am distressed at both Ms. Steinem’s and Ms. Albright’s remarks. They both seemed terribly sexist. And those remarks did nothing to encourage me to vote for Ms. Clinton.

    1. Harry Harris

      I think Hillary would be much better off if she got her surrogates to restrain themselves. Bill went off the other day in a mean-spirited rant – the kind of unrestrained rant that cost Hilary SC in ’08. Sometimes they look for immediate advantage without thinking about long-term damage.

  2. Assistant

    Ms. Steinem’s remark was the equivalent of Emily Litella’s “Never mind” on her body of work. That’s unfortunate (or not) because she’d be taken a lot more seriously by more folks if she could control her political impulses and sharp tongue. She has done some good, particularly in bringing the horror of female genital mutilation to the attention of the American public.

    Steinem seems driven more by what Hillary says she’ll do and does not seem bothered in the least by what Hillary’s done. (I admit that I’m biased by my belief that the role Hillary’s played in protecting her husband from the consequences of his abuse of women, whether subordinates or chance encounters, has earned her a special place in hell.)

    Of course Steinem may believe that all who seek political office are corrupt, so it’s better to back the one who says the “right” things.

  3. Bart

    Wanna know what a feminist really is? All you would need to do is know the life of my mother and then you would know what a true feminist really is.

    She and my dad worked on the farm, side by side, equals in every sense of the word. They never made decisions without consulting each other and each respected the other’s differences. When they could no longer earn a living for a family of 7 farming because of a health issue she developed, my dad went to work as a gas station attendant and my mom went to work in a garment factory sitting all day long at a sewing machine. I cannot recall a time when she didn’t work outside the home while I was still there. They worked together and everything they earned went into the same account. They raised 5 of us together, not apart, not one going golfing and leaving the other at home or one going to some function, leaving the other one home. When it was time for one of us to be disciplined, they stood together, never disagreeing. When it was time to praise us, they did it together. When it was time to sacrifice something for any one of us, again, they did it together. And my mom did not take a backseat or walk 3 steps behind my dad.

    She was an equal partner in every way and she always voted, stood up for herself when confronted, wouldn’t back down in the face of adversity, and she always supported my dad and he supported her. When she met resistance to what she wanted to do because she was female, it didn’t stop her or faze her, she just kept on going until she got what she wanted. Never anything frivolous or trite but what was important to her, my dad, and the family.

    She was the matriarch of the family on both sides. When problems come up with any of our relatives, the one person they could always depend on was my mom. She always made room for another at our home and it was not unusual for me to sleep on the couch when a family member or a family friend needed help or a place to stay during times of trouble. When they needed advice or just someone to sit down with and have a cup of coffee, my mom was the one they turned to.

    Feminist? She was the epitome of what a true feminist really is, not what some try to claim they are in our present society. She didn’t have to be the face of a cause, she was a living, breathing example of what a cause looks like in person without all of the publicity and still keeping and maintaining the respect of everyone around her, family, friends, and stangers alike.

  4. Chris McCormick

    I think it treads dangerous territory for us guys to suggest how women _ought_ too respond to these remarks, but the internet is right there for us to _find out_what they think – and the response seems unambiguous. I agree with the read that there is a generational divide on this. Younger women appear to be both more open to a “democratic socialist” and less worried that they must vote Hillary or else may never live to see a female president. In that context, the assumption that Hillary Clinton should get the female vote _because_ she’s a woman is apparently galling to a lot of people. I know my wife was incensed. But she doesn’t accept Hillary as a feminist role model to begin with…

  5. Brad Warthen Post author

    I found this observation from a rabbi interesting:

    While Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem scandalously urge young women to vote for Hillary Clinton just because she’s a woman, I have not seen anything similar in the Jewish community. No one is saying we should feel for “the Bern” just because Sanders is a member of the tribe. And no Jewish leader is condemning those Jews who do not vote for Sanders to hell the way that Albright is doing to women who will not vote for Hillary….

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