Feminism's Generational Gap
by Prathusha Yeruva
It has been incredibly difficult to ignore the feminist fracture that has manifested in the 2016 Democratic primary. With some older feminist role models like Gloria Steinem and Madeline Albright insisting that a woman who doesn’t vote for Hillary is vying for the attention of boys or that there’s a “special place in hell” for women who don’t support other women, the feminist generational gap is wider than it has ever been before.
In order to fully understand this divide, it is important to realize where each population is coming from. Older women grew up embracing the feminism of the suffragettes and never really believing that it was possible for a women to become the President of the United States. Younger women have cultivated an equally legitimate form of feminism, one largely concerned with issues like eradicating the pay gap, keeping abortion legal, and protecting the rights of everyone who identifies as a woman. For younger girls who grew up being told that they could grow up to be anything, they are often more concerned with having a president that represents their hopes, rather than one voting for someone just because they identify as a woman.
Even as a young person who supports Hillary Clinton, I strongly disagree with the statements that people like Albright and Steinem have made. I’m standing with Hillary because I think that the legislation that she has proposed are things that are passable in today’s difficult political climate and that she is someone who would serve as an advocate for women and minorities. I’m not supporting Hillary because I want her to be the first female President, I’m supporting her because of my opinions on what America’s future should look like. On the other hand, young women aren’t supporting Bernie Sanders because “that’s where the boys are”; in a parallel manner, they think that Bernie Sanders would be able to create an America that they would want to live in.
As someone who spent a great deal of her childhood looking up to feminist leaders like Gloria Steinem and Madeline Albright, I’m disappointed in the statements that they put out and how little faith they have put into this new generation of feminists. However, it is incredibly important to acknowledge this generational gap that has emerged in modern-day feminism and work toward closing this split. In fact, Madeline Albright’s quote actually works quite well in this situation, “there is a special place in hell for women who don’t support other women” but not in terms of Presidential elections. Women who put other women down for petty things, like a difference in political ideology, or who try to specify who does and who doesn’t qualify as a feminist, are the types of people who are causing the real problems. It’s time for us to come together, both young and old, and create a better world for all women.