Young women just don't get it

Hillary is trailing Bernie in the youth vote. Is this surprising? Shouldn't be. When I was 23, I voted for the liberal George McGovern, but Richard Nixon beat him by the largest landslide in history. Of course, if Sen. Bernie Sanders gets the Democratic nomination, the 2016 Republican will make Nixon's victory look like a win by a nose.

They say if you're not a liberal when you're young, you don't have a heart. Bernie is as liberal as can be, and he calls upon young people to start a revolution. Not too different from 1972, although Mr. McGovern was far less revolutionary than Mr. Sanders. And, of course, there is no war in Vietnam, so the issues are not as major. But there still is inequality among races and poor education and poverty and, yes, inequality between the sexes.


Women's issues were major in the 1970s too. And that was a real revolution. One that is not won yet. Still, young women must think it's over. Otherwise, why wouldn't they support Hillary? There's no shame in solidarity. Look at the black vote, look at ethnic votes. Voters support their own. Given the choice, women should support an equally competent woman over a man — yes, because she is a woman. Here we have a proven, more qualified and (sorry, Bernie) younger female candidate, and yet we have young women supporting Bernie. How can this be?

Because young women just don't get it.


I have children. I tell their female friends my mother was born without the right to vote. They are often dumbfounded: "Your mother?" Then I tell them that I had to go to the Human Rights Commission to force a bank to lend me $500 because they didn't make personal loans to married women. Yes, me, in my lifetime. I go on to tell them that when I was dating, women weren't allowed into certain restaurants with pants on; as a matter of fact, women weren't allowed into certain restaurants at all just because they were women. When I was old enough to become pregnant, reproductive freedom was not a right I enjoyed; drug stores could refuse to sell me birth control. Abortion was illegal in the country.

These young women find it hard to relate these stories to me, someone who is much older, yet considered a contemporary by them. They never thought about any of this. They can go to a bank and get a loan. They cannot be overtly denied employment because they are women. They think they can go to any college they like. It's all taken for granted.

I explain to them that most of the strides women have made were not through legislation but through Supreme Court rulings. Then I tell them that several Supreme Court seats will be filled by the next president, and if it's a Republican you can bet that they will go to justices who will attack abortion rights and equal pay, and support other things like allowing companies to refuse to pay for birth control.

I remind them about McGovern and ask them to really think about whether it is possible for a self-proclaimed socialist to win the presidency against any Republican. I remind them one more time what's at stake, and then they finally get it.

But I shake my head and ask myself, why can't they just go with Hillary because she is a woman?

Barbara A. Res ( is an engineer and attorney, and the author of "All Alone on the 68th Floor: How One Woman Changed the Face of Construction."