Yesterday, American women were put before a stark choice for the Democratic Presidential primaries : either support Hillary Clinton or risk eternal damnation.
The precise threat was “There’s a special place in Hell for women who don’t support each other,” and it was issued by Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton and an important voice of the feminist movement in the United States in what was meant to be a high-profile endorsement of Hillary Clinton.
The full quote is: “We can tell our story about how we climbed the ladder and a lot of you younger women don’t think you have to; it’s been done. It’s not done. And you have to help. Hillary Clinton will always be there for you. And just remember, there’s a special place in Hell for women who don’t help each other.” We then see Ms. Albright hold Hillary Clinton’s hand and raise it aloft in a gesture of victory.
Really. A special place in Hell? So, the presidential primaries aren’t really about ideas, values, policies and programmes after all? What it boils down to is a girls-against-boys playground war with divine retribution thrown in for extra effect.
That a respected female politician of long career would threaten women with Hell, in a country, let’s not forget, where religious currents run deep, is insulting to women’s intelligence, to women’s freedom to think, to chose and to vote for themselves. It is an unwelcome reaffirmation of divisive ways of thinking that continue to delineate and divide blacks and whites, atheists and believers, women and men in the most reckless and irresponsible way, precisely because it comes from a woman of stature who should know better.
I honestly think Hillary didn’t know whether to blush or to smile. What she said was “Oh, thank you so much. Wow. Thank you, thank you!” But perhaps what she could, or should have said is:
With all due respect Ms Albright, one’s value as a person, in the eyes of God and (wo)man, has nothing to do with whether he or she supports one political candidate over another. Let’s keep Heaven and Hell out of this. And gender too. In politics, as in any other domain, women deserve to have freedom of choice that is not determined by their gender, or the Church. We’ve been there before, and we don’t want to go back.