I’m a child of the ’70s–a baby boomer, but from the middle of the boom. I graduated college in the latter half of the 1970s and never really experienced a glass ceiling (or not one I noticed). Or maybe I just ignored it. But women’s rights, justice, and “equal pay for equal work” are very much a part of my creed. But they are not my sole benchmarks in choosing the next president.
To suggest that they should be, as Hillary Clinton surrogates Gloria Steinem and Madeline Albright have done over the last week, offends me both as a woman (feminist) and as a progressive Democrat (dare I say “liberal”?).
I am highly offended by the comments of both women, who should know better than anyone that the women’s movement is about choices: in family planning, in work, in relationships. To suggest, as Ms. Steinem did Friday night on Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO) that young women cling to campaigns because that’s where “the boys are” is insulting, and to be honest diametrically opposed to the ideals of the movement she helped frame.
I remember those words from when I was a teenager. My mother wondered about my teenage political zeal, indeed, suggesting coyly that maybe I’ll “meet a nice boy while knocking on doors and making campaign phone calls.” It’s a notion born of another age, when girls went to college, not to get B.S. or a PhD, but an “MRS.” I have to say, I was shocked and saddened to hear those words, offhand or not (she was thinkin’ ’em) emerging from Gloria’s mouth.
Then there’s Madeline Albright, saying not only that women have no reason (other than snagging a boyfriend!) for supporting Bernie, but that to “feel the Bern” is somehow a betrayal of womanhood. How dare she! How dare she suggest that we must support the female candidate or are consigned to a “special place in Hell?” What if Carly Fiorina overcomes the odds and becomes the GOP candidate? Are we supposed to vote for her over Bernie Sanders? Because, dear readers, that’s what she’s saying.
We, as women, owe nothing to the pre-baby boomers (as both Steinem and Albright are) and early baby boomers who forged a path with protest signs and burnt bras, easing the way for us later boomers, and the generations that follow. Just as my daughter’s generation owes my generation nothing for encouragement, and for the advancements we created in the 1980s and beyond as we entered the workforce, married (or not), and had families (or not).
At this point, I am undecided about my choice come March 15 (Illinois’s primary day). I’m leaning toward Bernie Sanders, but I’m persuadable, and these scolding, offensive plays to (especially) the younger generation of women is tilting my sentiments more and more toward Mr. Sanders.