Clinton Defends Albright and Steinem Apologises as Sexism Claims Dominate Democratic Race

The feminist writer Gloria Steinem apologized on Sunday for remarks about young women who support Bernie Sanders, not long after Hillary Clinton defended Madeleine Albright over her comment that there is “a special place in hell” for women who do not support Clinton.

Steinem posted her apology to Facebook, writing that she “misspoke” on Friday when on a talk show she spoke about women who support Clinton’s rival in the Democratic presidential race, Senator Bernie Sanders.

Appearing on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher,Steinem said women “get more activist as they grow older. And when you’re younger, you think: ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie.’”

On Sunday she wrote that she had not meant to imply “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,” she wrote.

“Whether they gravitate to Bernie or Hillary, young women are activist and feminist in greater numbers than ever before.”

Also on Sunday, Clinton said that the remark Albright delivered at a rally in Concord, New Hampshire, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other,” was nothing new. Albright has used it at least since 2008,when she supported Clinton’s first run for president, against Barack Obama.

Clinton said that the belief arose from Albright’s own long fight for equality. Nevertheless, on Saturday, hours after Steinem’s remark, Albright’s words angered some, who found them condescending, and brought questions of gender and politics into high relief on the trail.

Clinton appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday and described Albright’s comment as a “light-hearted but very pointed remark”.

“Madeline has been saying this for many, many years,” Clinton said. “She believes it firmly, in part because she knows what a struggle it has been, and she understands the struggle is not over.”

Albright served as secretary of state – the first woman in the post – during Bill Clinton’s presidency. She “has a life experience that I respect”, Clinton said.

“I don’t want people to be offended,” Clinton said. But when asked if she understood why some women did take offense, she suggested political correctness had made Americans overly sensitive.

“Good grief, we’re getting offended by everything these days!” she said. “People can’t say anything without offending somebody.”

Young men and women have turned out in large numbers for Sanders, who lost to Clinton in Iowa by a historically small margin. The divides in the caucuses and the polls have largely been by age, rather than gender.

Sanders won 84% of people aged 17 to 29 in Iowa, and 58% of those aged 30 to 44, according to NBC exit polls. According to a USA Today/Rock the Vote poll, 50% of Democratic and independent women between the ages of 18 and 34 prefer Sanders to Clinton.

One supporter in New York told the Guardian on Saturday she could “list a million reasons why I prefer Bernie to Hillary”. Another described Steinem’s comments as “the worst kind of sweeping generalization I’ve heard in years about women my age”.

Earlier on Sunday, Clinton appeared on another talk show, CNN’s State of the Union, and struck a more familiar note, saying sexism continued to pervade American life.

“We are still living with a double standard,” she said. “I know it. Every woman I know knows it, whether you’re in the media as a woman, or you’re in the professions or business or politics.”

She ended resolutely: “I don’t know anything other to do than just keep forging through it, and just keep taking the slings and arrows that come with being a woman in the arena.” 

Sanders was also questioned on the theme of sexism on Sunday morning. Asked about a group of his male supporters whom the media have dubbed “Bernie bros”, for their callous and sometimes misogynistic comments about Clinton, the senator was emphatic in his rejection of them.

“I have heard about it,” he told CNN. “It’s disgusting. Look, we don’t want that crap.

“Anyone who’s supporting me and doing sexist things, we don’t want them. We don’t want them. That is not what this campaign is about.”

Sanders has often said his campaign is about “a political revolution” to restore power to middle class, working and poor Americans. On Saturday, Albright proposed a different kind of revolution.

“So people are talking about revolution,” she said. “What a revolution it would be to have a woman president.”


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