Live, from ‘a special place in hell’!

As one who does support female – and male – candidates who promote ideas and causes in which I believe, I was naturally disappointed when several women lost.  Can you say Sarah Palin and Carly Fiorina?  But of course, I was thrilled when Nikki Haley won her race for governor of South Carolina, made especially satisfactory because she was a woman of minority heritage and a Republican from a Southern state.  So I thought I was in heaven – or beginning to see it.  And it looked pretty good to me.  But what do I know?

Not much, according to the experts, former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and feminist icon (to many) Gloria Steinem.  Shocked at Clinton's floundering campaign and the successes of  Bernie Sanders, a formerly obscure senator from the small, relatively unimportant state of Vermont, in winning women's votes, especially those of younger women, the two lashed out, revealing their true contemptuous feelings toward women who don't toe their feminist line.  It wasn't very pretty, and both were forced to retract, making insincere apologies that only worsened their situation. 

After Clinton's losses, Albright decreed "there is a special place in hell for women who don't help each other" – i.e., vote for other women.  However in Albright's limited geography of heaven and hell, avoiding hell means only helping/voting for liberal women.  Therefore, I, and many other women, are condemned to hell because we either supported conservative women and/or we...gasp!...thought independently and supported a man instead of a woman.

And now Albright is in her own kind of hell, maybe not a special one but one of her own making because this expression, which she admitted to using numerous times over the past two decades, is considered undiplomatic.  So she's been forced to apologize.  In a rather insincere and unconvincing op-ed in the New York Times, she blubbered:

I HAVE spent much of my career as a diplomat. It is an occupation in which words and context matter a great deal. So one might assume I know better than to tell a large number of women to go to hell.

But last Saturday, in the excitement of a campaign event for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, that is essentially what I did, when I delivered a line I have uttered a thousand times to applause, nodding heads and laughter: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” It is a phrase I first used almost 25 years ago, when I was the United States ambassador to the United Nations and worked closely with the six other female U.N. ambassadors. But this time, to my surprise, it went viral.

I absolutely believe what I said, that women should help one another, but this was the wrong context and the wrong time to use that line. I did not mean to argue that women should support a particular candidate based solely on gender. But I understand that I came across as condemning those who disagree with my political preferences. If heaven were open only to those who agreed on politics, I imagine it would be largely unoccupied.

However, I do want to explain why I so firmly believe that, even today, women have an obligation to help one another. In a society where women often feel pressured to tear one another down, our saving grace lies in our willingness to lift one another up. 

Uh, nevertheless, despite these fine-sounding final words, I find no record of her supporting any Republican woman, no record of her telling her fellow Democrats to stop the nasty condescension and mockery of Sarah Palin by her fellow Democrats in the presidential campaign nearly eight years ago.  And what advice did Albright offer Ms. Rodham Clinton (as she was known when she was first lady) when she willingly acquiesced in, as Albright put it, further tearing down Paula Jones or Juanita Broaddrick or others already torn down by her husband?  Did she condemn Hillary then to hell?  I don't think so.  After all, in her whitewash of herself, she admits she's condemned women who disagree with her to hell "a thousand times, to applause, nodding heads and laughter."  I don't think Jones or Broaddrick applauded or laughed.  Perhaps they wondered what the hell she was talking about.

Gloria Steinem is also in a hell of her own making for similarly publicly condescending to women – young women especially – who dare to support a white male.  When asked by Bill Maher why young women were supporting Sanders over Clinton, she dismissively answered, “When you’re young, you’re thinking, 'Where are the boys?'  The boys are with Bernie."  But they'll change she confidently asserted because women get "radical" when they get older.

After being roundly criticized for this, what was her pathetic feminist apology for reducing young girls to boy-crazy creatures?  It wasn't her fault she explained on Facebook, she was "misinterpreted."

In a case of talk-show Interruptus, I misspoke on the Bill Maher show recently, and apologize for what's been misinterpreted as implying young women aren't serious in their politics. What I had just said on the same show was the opposite: young women are active, mad as hell about what's happening to them, graduating in debt, but averaging a million dollars less over their lifetimes to pay it back. Whether they gravitate to Bernie or Hillary, young women are activist and feminist in greater numbers than ever before.

Maybe.  Maybe not.  But of course young girls will gravitate to Where the Boys Are, and have been doing it since time immemorial.  And why shouldn't they?  Except for a minority, that's what they do. 

But Gloria, another question is why are the boys for Sanders and not for Clinton?  And why are the girls, too?

Sexism?  For some, sure.  But both the boys and the girls and the men and the women seem to prefer Bernie because of all his promises for free stuff.  And, well, he's new, he's different, and Hillary is so been-there-done-that, succeeding only through a man, her husband.  And with all those old white men advising Hillary, the same kind of white men who over 20 years ago referred to Paula Jones as trailer-trash who would do anything when a $5 bill is dragged through the area without a peep of protest from Steinem or Albright, why should a young person, especially a lower-middle-class individual, man or woman, identify with Clinton?   

Steinem herself awkwardly answered the question eight years ago when Clinton was running for the presidency against another man, Barack Obama, whining:

Women Are Never Front-Runners

Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life, whether the question is who must be in the kitchen or who could be in the White House. This country is way down the list of countries electing women and, according to one study, it polarizes gender roles more than the average democracy. (snip)

So why is the sex barrier not taken as seriously as the racial one? The reasons are as pervasive as the air we breathe: because sexism is still confused with nature as racism once was; because anything that affects males is seen as more serious than anything that affects “only” the female half of the human race; because children are still raised mostly by women (to put it mildly) so men especially tend to feel they are regressing to childhood when dealing with a powerful woman; (snip) and because there is still no “right” way to be a woman in public power without being considered a you-know-what. (snip)

What worries me is that some women, perhaps especially younger ones, hope to deny or escape the sexual caste system; thus Iowa women over 50 and 60, who disproportionately supported Senator Clinton, proved once again that women are the one group that grows more radical with age. (snip)

This country can no longer afford to choose our leaders from a talent pool limited by sex, race, money, powerful fathers and paper degrees. It’s time to take equal pride in breaking all the barriers. We have to be able to say: “I’m supporting her because she’ll be a great president and because she’s a woman.”

But, like Albright, Steinem was silent at the slurs flung on a real frontrunner at the time, Sarah Palin, a woman without a powerful husband, money, or a fancy degree who cheerfully and competently accomplished much on her own?  Did Steinem defend Palin against the mockery cast upon her because she lacked these talent pool credentials?  Did she complain when liberals – men and women – insulted Palin's children or her husband?  Did she follow her own advice and state about Palin, "I'm supporting her because she'll be a great [vice] president and because she's a woman"? 

Of course not.  Steinem's selectivity and hypocrisy exposes the hollowness of her complaints.

So for all their accomplishments – and they have many, to their credit – Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem are in their little hell – one where time has passed them by and they are unable to adapt.  

And as for me, I'm in my own special heaven – or an Albright/Steinem hell – as I watch the politics not as usual unfold.  And that is special.