In an excerpt from her new book, The Destruction of Hillary Clinton, cultural historian Susan Bordo partly blames Clinton’s loss on her young, female detractors:
Many younger women, on the other hand—no less feminist, no less committed to gender equality—had formed their ideas about “the Clintons,” as Savannah Barker reminds us, in the shadow of 20 years of relentless personal and political attacks. Few of them—as I know from decades of teaching courses on feminism, gender issues, and the social movements of the 60s—were aware of the “living history” (to borrow Hillary’s phrase) that shaped the woman herself.
Bordo presents a number of false premises, including the familiar argument that young people failed to appreciate Clinton’s true radicalism. She creates an appealing narrative for anyone upset by Clinton’s loss and looking for someone to blame, omitting key facts that show the antipathy between Team Clinton and younger voters was not a one-way street.
“They [young women] didn’t want to be dealt any cards at a bridge game organized by Gloria Steinem or Madeleine Albright—or Hillary Clinton. They wanted Bernie Sanders,” Bordo complains.
But this aversion is actually easy to explain. Steinem suggested young women supported Sanders in order to meet boys: “When you’re young, you’re thinking: ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie.’” Albright suggested that women who voted for Sanders would go to hell. It’s not hard to see why these women are precluded from the halls of millennial adoration.
In the end, millennial voters, both male and female, were cool to Clinton for a host of reasons. If she was unable to muster their full-throated support, the blame lies with her, not them. Feminism rests on the basis that women should be judged for their worth, but Bordo instead assumes that Hillary Clinton, by virtue of her gender, should have been spared the critical gaze of young women. And that’s sexist.