Last Saturday, at a New Hampshire rally for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright took the stage and spoke to the millennial feminist’s duty to support Clinton. Backed by thunderous applause, Albright fervently declared, “Remember, there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Pew Research Center, there are now 88 million millennials (ages 18 to 34) in the U.S., and those millennials make up 3 of 10 voters. In fact, millennials have now surpassed baby boomers as the largest U.S. voting-age population.
It’s one of the main factors that propelled President Obama into office in 2008, when he captured 66 percent of the youth vote, a record number of young voters supporting any presidential candidate for the past three decades and secured his victory over Senator John McCain.
Millennials are directing the future of Washington now more than ever. Today, college students directly influence who lands in the POTUS seat.
So, when Albright said that “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other,” her words carry immense weight in this demographic’s political decisions.
I wouldn’t call myself a feminist; I’m still figuring it out. However, taking a class last semester covering feminist topics opened my eyes to see that feminism is more than the Rosie the Riveter propaganda and angry protest imagery I previously thought it was. I learned that feminism is believing that everyone, men and women, are equal and therefore, deserving of equal opportunity.
Although women make up 50.8 percent of the population and hold 52 percent of all professional-level jobs, only 14.6 percent are in positions of executive officer leadership, according to the Center of American Progress. And only 22 percent of all national parliamentarians on a global scale are female.
Safe to say, women are underrepresented. Therefore, I agree with the underlying sentiment of Albright’s assumption; women need to help other women break this underrepresentation.
I do not agree, however, with the sentiment that young millennials should support Clinton simply because she is a woman.
“Women having a choice to vote for the candidate who speaks for them best is feminism,” Kandi Kipp posted to Facebook.
And the candidate who best speaks for them may not necessarily be Clinton.
“While the historic aspect of the first woman president is hugely powerful and important and would set a really powerful image for young boys and girls to look up to, [Clinton] might not be the right first woman,” said Dana Edell, executive director of the SPARK Movement, a gender justice advocacy group.
In fact, many millennial feminists support Senator Bernie Sander’s economic reforms, claiming that raising the minimum wage will help women in the work force. Sanders has also identified himself as a feminist who fights for a progressive agenda, mainly in the economic sector.
Women who support Clinton claim that her gender is not what earns their vote, but rather, they stand behind Clinton’s foreign policy and pragmatic ability to work with strategic plans and people.
“As an educated feminist, I am voting for Hillary but not because she’s a woman. I’m voting for her because she’s the best candidate,” community Facebook member Aimee Green posted.
On Feb. 9, Sanders won the Democratic Primary in New Hampshire with 60 percent of the votes. Clinton received 38.3 percent of the votes.
Feminist or not, everyone has a voice to support the candidate they believe best supports them, and this decision should not be solely based on gender. Let us not make the mistake of allowing appearances to muddle our decisions. Instead, let us be attentive to the issues that matter.
Ultimately, I share education policy worker Erica Brandt’s sentiment: chromosomes don’t trump policies.