Telling women to vote for other women, just because they are women, is patronising in the extreme.
How we choose to engage with politics, and who we choose to vote for is about so much more than just gender.
It’s about policy and politics and passion, and trying to decide who is the best advocate for women’s rights.
Sometimes, that person is a woman, and sometimes they are not.
There are plenty of women in politics who I don’t agree with. Who support ideas and policies that I would never support, who put forward positions that I believe harm women more than they help them.
A vote for those women is not a vote I would ever cast.
So I was pretty frustrated when I saw that Madeleine Albright had used her own old line, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other,” stumping for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire on the weekend.
Not because I don’t support Clinton’s bid for the presidency, but because voting for a woman is not the only way that women can support each other.
Albright was talking about young women, who the polling says are breaking for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries.
She thinks they don’t realise how revolutionary a female President of the United States would be.
“We can tell our story of how we climbed the ladder, and a lot of you younger women think it’s done. It’s not done,” she said.
I am not convinced that Albright’s argument was simply “young women should vote for Hillary because vagina”. I think it was more nuanced than that. I think she was saying “this fight has been going on for a really long time, and Hillary Clinton is in it, she’s always been in it, and she will always be in it”.
Clinton is a woman who supports other women. Who fights for abortion access and equal rights and fair pay.
She is a longstanding advocate for women, and she has the support in this election of Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice (a pro-choice advocacy group).
In their statement announcing they were endorsing Clinton, NARAL said:
“Decisions made in the next several years will determine how women and families fare in the United States for decades to come.
“We need not just a worthy ally, but a champion with a demonstrated record of fighting for reproductive freedom and economic justice.
“Hillary Clinton is that champion. She has spent her entire life leading on equal opportunity for women and families—as a private citizen, First Lady, United States Senator, and Secretary of State.”
Gloria Steinem too has attracted quite a bit of criticism for a recent comment that young women were supporting Sanders because that’s what “the boys” are doing.