In an interview with Bill Maher, a political commentator and television show host, Gloria Steinem responded to the overwhelming support for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign from young women by insinuating young girls only go where the boys are. “When you’re young, you’re thinking: ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie,’ ” Ms. Steinem said to Maher. Even as the leading feminist figure in recent history, she seems to think that young women cannot separate their political ideologies and their potential personal lives because they are primarily focused on ‘earning’ attention from men. Well, it’s time for Steinem to look at the facts.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll from Iowa, Democratic Caucus participants 18 to 44 years old back Sanders over Clinton 78 – 21 percent. While the poll does not specifically mention percentages related to gender, it is clear that Bernie connects with young people, especially on his most important campaign issues. Most young Bernie supporters cite his commitment to augment the higher education system to account for free tuition for public colleges/universities and to expand the American job market to young students. In an article published by the Economic Policy Institute, The Class of 2015: Despite An Improving Economy, Young Grads Still Face An Uphill Climb (Davis, 2015), the unemployment rate for college graduates was calculated to 7.2%, concurrent with an underemployment rate for college graduates at 14.9%. These issues are most important to Sanders’ campaign and young voters across the nation, which is he is most popular with them.
Young people are most commonly disregarded when it comes to voting, due to their low voter turnout overall, but this election season has seen a rise in interest from young voters from both political parties. For the Democratic party candidates, this rise mostly comes from the Sanders campaign, as aforementioned. For young female voters, the numbers are not different. Sanders, a self-proclaimed feminist, supports ideologies and legislation directly supporting health and economic equality for women. In addition to strengthening the middle class and rebuilding the American job market, he aims to eliminate the pay gap between men and women, especially for minority women making less than half to the dollar. He supports pro-choice legislation that make it easier for women to have their personal reproductive choices and rights ensured by hospitals. Though Hillary Clinton supports similar platforms, Sanders seems to get his message across as more committed to change, hurting Clinton’s support polls in the process.
Sanders also aims to create a political revolution in the United States, especially among young people. Because Clinton is deemed more moderate by the press, his ‘radical’ thinking has gotten him the support of progressive young voters who want this change. These voters are comprised of people of many genders; in fact, a good number of young male voters support his campaign. So is this in fact where the boys are, as Steinem says?
There are young men who support Sanders, and there are young women who support Sanders. Combined they represent a good number of the national youth population. But Steinem’s remarks are based completely on the fact that there is a woman and two men from the Democratic Party running for president; if young female voters are to support either male candidate, specifically Sanders, they are betraying the potential reality of a female president. It doesn’t matter if one of the male candidates has better ideas for change, especially when they concern young women, it only matters that because there is a woman running for office, ALL women have to support her.
This country is based on democracy and the idea that all men are ensured the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If young women want to vote for Bernie Sanders, they can. If young women want to vote for Hillary Clinton, they can. Young women are more independent and rational-thinking than ever before; they will make whatever choice best suits them, and, in this case, their country. Whether she bases her political decisions on actual political concerns, or the factor of impressing men, it is really none of Gloria Steinem’s business.