Young women ‘feel the Bern,’ older ones back Hillary. Discuss.

In a lively and sometimes heated intergenerational exchange, Berkeley Blog authors are hashing out gender and generational dynamics of the Democratic side of the presidential campaign, and why, in particular, so many young women back Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton.

Clinton and Sanders

In one post, history Ph.D. candidate Peggy O’Donnell writes of feminist fault lines and how the increased economic insecurity they face is fueling young women’s support for Sanders.

“I gather that many young women feel that feminism has run its course,” responds Robin Lakoff, a professor emerita of linguistics.

But if a Republican were to win the White House, “What do you think will happen to young women’s reproductive rights, not just abortion but contraception?” she asks.

(Lakoff has written extensively about language, gender and power, as in a 2015 Berkeley Blog post noting pundits’ obsession with how Hillary Clinton delivers her message, rather the content of what she’s saying.)

In a response, O’Donnell decries not-infrequent public put-downs of young women by other women who are their seniors. “In recent memory,” she writes, “young women have been publicly critiqued by women for the sound of our voices and our speech patterns, the way we write our emails, and how we dress and present ourselves.”

Jeremy Adam Smith, of the Greater Good Science Center, adds two more pieces. One, looking at gender bias and power differences, is “What do young women want from Bernie Sanders?” His second post is titled “What Clinton’s campaign reveals about women and power.”

For many Berkeley students he’s spoken with, “the Iraq War and the Great Recession are their two generation-defining forces,” he writes. “Their concerns are actually pretty economic – shockingly economic: they’re worried about student debt and their job prospects, and (to a lesser degree) about housing (this is the Bay Area, so everyone feels eaten alive by rent).”