Last week, feminist icon Gloria Steinem agreed with former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, who’d earlier made it clear that all women were obliged to support Hillary Clinton in her presidential campaign. Albright had suggested that Clinton’s problem with attracting younger women in the primary election was due to women being more judgmental towards their own gender, and dragged out her multi-decade old bromide, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”
Steinem took it a step further, suggesting the main reason young women were forgoing Clinton for Democratic rival Bernie Sanders was so they could meet boys a.k.a. the Bernie Bros.
Naturally, in this day and age, the inevitable social media backlash prompted the even more inevitable back-peddle. Steinem first said she misspoke, then claimed her quote was misinterpreted. Seems like it would be hard to do both. Albright, to her credit, stuck to her guns, elaborating that yes, her quote, which has made the rounds for years, to the point of being included on Starbucks cups, does mean that all women should vote for Hillary Clinton.
For the record, Albright was not equally as enthused when Sarah Palin used the exact same quote in her campaign. And I don’t seem to recall a wellspring of feminist love for England’s Margaret Thatcher. Actress turned Parliament member Glenda Jackson excoriated the former Prime Minister the day after she died. I also must have missed all the pro-feminist demonstrations, both in Israel and outside of it, in support of Golda Meir. Hell must be awfully crowded these days. Good thing Jews don’t believe in it.
Speaking of Jews and women, they have quite a dilemma on their hands, don’t they? Obviously, as Ovarian-Americans, they are required to love Clinton (see above). But, if elected, Sanders would be the first Jewish president. If voting against Clinton is automatically misogynistic, then a vote against Sanders is equally knee-jerk anti-Semitic, right? That’s the only thing it possibly could be.
So whom should Jewish women love more?
Considering the issue America’s Jewish community is facing with intermarriage and children not being raised in the faith, should Jewish parents be urging their daughters to go work for Sanders’ campaign, where they are much more likely to meet a nice, Jewish Bernie Bro, get married, and produce babies who will also vote for any and all Jewish candidates, regardless of their stance on any issues? Unless, of course, they’re girls, and then… oops, we’re back where we started.
For many Jewish-American women, this is the inaugural time in history they’ve ever faced such a conundrum (which is actually pretty darn awesome). But not me. This is definitely not my first time at the identity politics rodeo. Eight years ago, I was being told that, as a woman, I had to support Clinton. But wait! As the wife of an African-American man and mother of three biracial children (one of who’s Hebrew name is even Barak!) I had to support Obama. Seriously, I lived in terror of Condaleeza Rice joining the race like one book, “Condi v. Hillary,” predicted. I would totally not have known what to do then! (Issues? What issues? We’re only interested in genitalia and melanin here.)
This time around, I can’t even begin to think about what’s going through the poor, can’t think for themselves heads of any women unfortunate enough to also be Jewish and Hispanic! What will they possibly do if the Republican nominee turns out to be Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio? I suppose they could always use the John Leguizamo exemption, wherein he explained that he would love to see more Hispanics in politics, but not Cruz or Rubio, because they’re the wrong kind of Hispanics. I cannot put into words how much my oldest son, who battles the “You’re Not Really Black” taunt on a regular basis, loves seeing those kinds of distinctions in the media.
As for me? I’m a registered Independent because I find aspects of both party’s platforms equally abhorrent. I don’t vote in the primary, so I don’t have to make the Jewish/Woman “Sophie’s Choice.” If I did, though, I know which way I would vote. And it has nothing to do with ovaries and/or circumcised penises. Those who’ve read me regularly probably have a sneaking suspicion of which way I’ll swing, but I believe in the sanctity of the private vote.
And, unlike Gloria Steinem and Madeline Albright, I don’t expect everyone who happens to have something in common with me to be required to think like me. Or vilify and shame those who don’t.
I wonder if there’s a special place in hell for those who do…