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Madeleine Albright Defends Her Hillary Clinton Remarks

3 minute read

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright defended her recent remarks that “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women,” in an interview with TIME.

“I said that I think that people need to understand who has been really fighting on their behalf on issues that are of interest to women and clearly Hillary Clinton has and I have said there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women a lot—it’s so famous that it ended up on a Starbucks cup—because I do think that just generally, we are very judgmental of each other,” Albright said.

Albright and feminist icon Gloria Steinem have come under fire in recent days for their remarks over the weekend seen as hectoring younger women into supporting Clinton. Steinem told HBO’s Bill Maher that she thought younger women were only flocking to Democratic rival Bernie Sanders because “the boys are with Bernie.” Steinem since apologized on her Facebook page.

Albright did not apologize, but rather said she felt that people were taking her remarks out of context. The place-in-hell quote is something Albright has said for more than 40 years, and was more aimed at older women not helping younger ones get a leg up in the workforce. “I’ve said it forever, that we are overly judgmental of each other. And that we put women through tests that we do not put men through. And so that’s what I was saying,” Albright said.

Albright and Steinem’s comments reflect a divide within Clinton’s support: she does well with middle aged and older women but loses younger women to Sanders. Millenials are the first generation born believing in the equality of the sexes. Most younger women don’t doubt that they will see a female president in their lifetime: they just wonder why it has to be Clinton. To them Albright has a message: you don’t realize the struggle it took.

“I think because life is better, thanks to people like Hillary and me,” she said. “I have to tell you when I went for my first job when I was 22 years old, they said, ‘So what are you going to do, honey?’ I’m not sure that young women get that now. So it has taken a lot of work now. So what concerns me most of all is that we don’t go backwards. Because if you listen to things, people are saying things that are very anti-women in terms of decisions that we have to make about our lives. And I think we all have to remember that no matter what age we are, that things can always go back.”

To help appeal to younger women, Clinton has campaigned with Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO show “Girls,” and pop star Katy Perry, but she has failed to connect. In an echo of her difficulties against Barack Obama in the 2008 primary, she has faced a passion deficit among younger voters.

Albright’s message to young women is that passion is not as important as policy.

–Jay Newton-Small is the author of the recently published book, “Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works,” available on amazon.com or at book stores everywhere.

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