Feminist icon Gloria Steinem managed to piss a lot of people off with her latest comment about women supporting Bernie Sanders this weekend. During an appearance on the HBO late night show Real Time With Bill Maher on Friday, Steinem claimed that young women only support Bernie Sanders because they want attention from boys.
“Women are more for [Clinton] than men are,” she said. “First of all, women get more radical as we get older, because we experience. Not to over-generalize, but men tend to get more conservative because they gain power as they age, women get more radical because they lose power as they age. And, when you’re young, you’re thinking, where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie.”
Steinem was discussing Clinton’s struggle to gain the support of young women, despite being a candidate for the first-ever female president. Sanders received the vast majority of young female voters in Iowa, and the LA Times reports that the numbers look similar in New Hampshire, where the primary takes place Tuesday. But insulting Sanders’ supporters’ intelligence by saying they’re only in it for the boys was probably not the best way to get them on Hillary’s side. One group, People for Bernie, even launched a petition as an attempt to get Steinem to take back what she said.
“This statement represents one of the worst pronouncements on gender we have seen from a notable person in this election season,” they wrote. “It’s particularly significant because you are a feminist icon whose leadership continues to inspire, and because the statement was such a sweeping condemnation of young women.”
Steinem is famous for her feminist activism throughout her life. She was a journalist for many years, and founded Ms. magazine in 1972.
On Sunday, the 81-year-old wrote to fans on her Facebook page that her comment was misinterpreted.
“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,” she wrote. “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 activists and feminists in greater numbers than ever before.”
Gloria Steinem received backlash for her comments around the same time as Madeline Albright, the female secretary of state who shamed any women who didn’t support Clinton at a rally in New Hampshire on Saturday.
“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other,” she said.
When Clinton appeared on Meet the Press on Sunday, she addressed Albright’s comment.
“Madeline has been saying this for many, many years,” she said. “She believes it firmly, in part because she knows what a struggle it has been and she understands the struggle is not over.”