Gloria Steinem went on the show of the extremely sexist Bill Maher to discuss with him what’s wrong with Bernie Sanders supporting young women these days. I suppose this time around Maher is backing Clinton, after the extremely sexist remarks he made about her in 2008. While talking about the age split in support for the two candidates, with women over 35 supporting Clinton more and women 35 and under favoring Sanders, Steinem had this to say:
“When you’re young, you’re thinking, where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie…”
Ah, curses, she’s found us out! It’s impossible we developed political opinions of the two candidates, who have both been in Washington for most or all of our lives, through observation or reading. We’re just looking for the boys (who are apparently hard to find?) For me, it’s not a question of which candidate is a woman, but which candidate will look out for women like me. You see, I am not just a woman.
I am a mother, and I want my son to go to college some day, not to war. Clinton is a war hawk who doesn’t see college education as a human right, but something to be earned or worked for by those not blessed with rich parents. Sanders is more reserved in the use of military force, though hardly a pacifist. He is campaigning on the promise of free college tuition. I struggle to cover the basics each month, and have nothing saved for college, which climbs in cost every year.
I am a poor woman. I am not and will probably never be middle class, the class most pandered to in general elections. I rely on welfare programs to feed my family and cover our medical expenses. Under the leadership of Clinton’s husband – and with her endorsement – welfare programs that could have given me and my son a better life were eliminated in my childhood and never reinstated. The replacement systems were designed to be more temporary, less helpful, and more punitive at every step of the process. Childhood poverty has increased greatly as a direct result. Sanders has repeatedly voted to expand and increase programs with a direct impact on my quality of life.
I am a disabled woman. I treat my chronic pain with marijuana and someday I may go on Social Security Disability benefits to help pay my bills. (I would have to give up my writing income and move to a dangerous neighborhood to “afford” to live on SSD benefits, however.) Clinton favors a wait-and-see approach on marijuana, but is generally in favor of drug laws and their enforcement, of of the for-profit prisons that derive income from incarcerating high numbers of nonviolent drug offenders. She also has said she is open to raising the retirement age for Social Security. Sanders wants to federally legalize marijuana and to increase the payment amounts to Social Security recipients, without raising the qualifying age.
I am also a gay woman, which makes the accusation I am looking for the boys even more outrageous. Clinton waited to support same-sex marriage rights until the absolutely last minute, consistently supporting measures in military and civilian life that discriminated against women like me. Sanders was fighting homophobic laws before I was even born.
I support Bernie Sanders for President because I don’t think women’s issues start and end at abortion, something the two candidates agree should remain a right (but only Sanders would guarantee financial access to that right through universal healthcare!) Women in prison for marijuana possession is a women’s issue. Women unable to afford education, or healthcare, or daycare is a women’s issue. War and its impact on women abroad is a women’s issue.
Clinton and I may both be white women who support abortion rights, but we have little in common beyond that. Her world is so wealthy, so protected by the outcomes of her policies, that I have little faith in her ability to learn from mistakes others suffer for. Her words and policies over the past 25 years are why I can’t get excited about her as a candidate. I am a woman yes, a poor woman, a disabled woman, a gay woman. And I don’t feel like Hillary is here for me as this kind of woman.
Now tell me, Gloria, which part of that sounded like looking for boys?