February 7, 2016

My Middle-aged White Lady Perspective: A Special Place in Hell

There are probably lots of special places in hell, for all kinds of special people.

People who harm children. People who kill animals, like the two most heinous recent cases in my neck of the woods one involving a horse, another a family's dog. Pedophile priests. The folks who put Bruce Springsteen and Beethoven on Muzak. The people who 'gummied' the world. Those who prey on senior citizens. The people who make up drug names. Whoever it was who decided that sagging pants and side boob are fashion statements.

And now, there might be a special place for me; I'm seriously on the fence about Hillary Clinton (that's a subject for another post), but I've been put on notice by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, on the stump for Hillary in New Hampshire, who told us,
Just remember - there's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women.
The crowd roared, as it was supposed to -- after all, the folks who were there were most likely already in the bag for Hillary, as Albright said she was, back in November. She also noted, referencing Bernie's stump speech line
So people are talking about a revolution. What a revolution it would be to have a woman president.
A 78-year old successful woman, a trailblazer, tells us there's only one kind of revolution, and there's only one vote a woman can make and go to heaven.

If I were 30 or so years younger, and a Bernie Sanders supporter, it would be even worse: I'd not only have a special place in hell, but I'd be supporting a candidate simply because of a penis. Not the candidate's penis, heaven forbid - the penises of his supporters.

Just listen to Gloria Steinem, in response to a question from Bill Maher on Hillary's gender gap with young women.
And when you're young you're thinking 'where are the boys?' The boys are with Bernie.
And she said it after noting the exact reason many young women actually say they're Feeling the Bern:
I did not say 'thank you for the vote.' I got mad on the basis if what's happening to me. And I think that's true of young women too. So they're made as hell because they're graduating in debt and they're going to earn a million dollars less in their lifetime to pay it back. You  know, they're mad about what's happening to them.
An 81-year old, trailblazing feminist, telling us that young women are just in it for the boys.

This is the same Gloria Steinem who, back in 1996, endorsed Bernie Sanders, a progressive and a feminist, according to people who spoke on his behalf, in his Congressional race against a woman. At a college where the audience is not surprisingly young, and appears to be mostly women.

Steinem began her talk by saying
I'm only here today to make Bernie Sanders an honorary woman.
That was a close as she came to mentioning a penis.

Now, I don't think that Madeleine Albright really thinks that Gloria Steinem should rot in hell for supporting Bernie Sanders in a race against a woman 20 years ago. And I don't think that Gloria Steinem really believes that young women support male politicians because they're looking for boys.

That may have been the case back in their day, but it's specifically because of women like Steinem that women don't need to be thought of as being involved in something just to hook up with guys, or, heaven forbid, to find a husband.  And it's specifically because of women like Albright that young women and even middle-aged white ladies like me can see themselves as more than just a wife, just a mom, just a low-paid worker in the service sector, and actually be more than that if they choose.

I think both of them know better than to say what they said, even if they were kidding. Because we know, you and I, that anyone - male or female - who had made that kind of statement to either Albright or Steinem would not have been thought funny by these women.

There's a great definition of 'feminist' about six minutes into the video that contains Steinem's endorsement of Bernie, which starts around 15 minutes in.  The definition was provided by Sally Conrad, a former Vermont state senator.
To be a feminist, a person doesn't have to be a woman. A feminist is  person who challenges the power structure of this country. A person who realizes that every decision whether made by government policy makers or corporate executives, is colored by the race, class, and gender of the people in power. A feminist is person who tries to shift that imbalance of power away from those who have it all, to those who don't have any.
By that definition, and by his own words, Bernie Sanders is a feminist, and he's been a consistent feminist all along. In fact, absent references to specific dates and people, you'd be hard-pressed to know that the speech he makes in the 1996 video is not the speech he gives on the stump today, 20 years later.

We women can support any candidate we want, for whatever reason we want, and we shouldn't be shamed by other women who hold different viewpoints. After all, blindly following the female candidate back in 2008 could have led us to a two-term-VP Sarah Palin presidential campaign today.

Had I contributed to that, I'd surely deserve a special place in hell.