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Why Young Women Choose Bernie Over Hillary: Analyzing Gloria Steinem’s “Joke”

Pat TaubPat Taub

By Evelyn Gilman, Guest Blogger

“When you’re young, you’re thinking, ‘Where are the boys?’  The boys are with Bernie.” — Gloria Steinem on “Real Time with Bill Maher.”  

Gloria Steinem’s comment was a joke, or an attempt at one, but it also reveals more than her trying to be funny on a TV talk show.

To make an analogy, it’s as if I, when asked to explain Trump’s success as a presidential candidate, might “jest”: “Lots of people admire sociopaths!” — as the evidence shows that Rhymes-with-rump (my preferred name for him) is a sociopath, and lots of people do admire him.

Pat Taub, WOW blog, Portland, Maine

Gloria Steinem, photographed last week

It’s not exactly the same thing. I don’t think that Steinem believes Sanders’ appeal to young women is based only on the number of young men (condescendingly, “the boys”) working on the campaign, but rather that she is baffled, disappointed and maybe a little or very angry that young women are not supporting the only viable woman candidate for president.

Rather than exploring young women’s lack of support for Hillary Cliinton by talking to lots of young women who are “feeling the Bern”, she mentally writes off their support as shallow and naive. Her true feelings slipped out in a “comical” comment, revealing her “shallow and naive” analysis in a textbook case of projection. 

Pat Taub, WOW blog, Portland, Maine

Young women (and men) at a Bernie rally

Steinem doesn’t (or didn’t – maybe she does now!) care why young women are making what she sees as the wrong choice. Hillary Clinton may well be the only viable woman candidate for president that Steinem will ever be able to vote for. She has wanted a woman president for a long time.

She’s done a lot over the course of a long, productive, and intensely political life to support woman candidates for all kinds of offices, rejoiced in successes, and felt the pain of total failures and near-misses too. Hillary is a Democrat; a survivor, like Steinem, of personal piggy and institutional sexism; and a powerful politician. “What more do these young women WANT?” she may be thinking.

Which leads me to my last point: although I believe I understand her reasons, I am appalled at Steinem’s decision to support Hillary’s campaign. I’m not mad at her for not supporting Sanders or even Jill Stein. I don’t want her to do or not do any particular thing, except NOT endorse and work for Hillary “Warmonger” Clinton on the basis of her support of US wars and military “engagment” for corporate profit.

Pat Taub, WOW blog, Portland, Maine

Hillary courting young women voters

Young women who support Sanders have done what Steinem has failed to do: examine Hillary’s actual record – as First Lady, NY senator and Secretary of State – and then compare it to another candidate’s record. Sanders’ record is far from perfect, but it is more consistent and principled than Hillary’s on the issues of going illegally to war against Iraq and fighting the machinations of Wall Street, among others.

I’m not a “Bernie” supporter. I’m troubled by intelligent people forgetting what a mistake it was to invest all their progressive hopes in Barack Obama. I’m creeped out by the whole “Feel the Bern”; that is, Bernie is my funny, good-hearted uncle/father/savior/best friend syndrome.

Pat Taub, WOW blog, Portland, Maine

Young people protesting to cancel college debts–an issue supported by Bernie

But I do understand his appeal to young people of whatever gender who are unfairly burdened with debt; who face lower expectations of careers, health, even life expectancy than my generation did/does; who are mostly decent, kind, smart — and looking warily around at the world and the politics they have inherited. That Steinem could mentally write off half of that generation shows how out of touch she is.

“Where are the boys” – indeed! Where was Steinem’s common sense?!

Pat Taub is a family therapist, writer and activist and life-long feminist. She hopes that WOW will start a conversation among other older women who are fed up with the ageism and sexism in our culture and are looking for cohorts to affirm their value as an older woman.