madeleine albright thinks I'm going to hell

The other day, I saw a Madeleine Albright quote in my Twitter timeline. I don’t know if this Time magazine interview is the original source, but this is the quote (bold):

What advice do you have for women who want respect from their male colleagues? Dana Philbin, CHICAGO

Women have to be active listeners and interrupters—but when you interrupt, you have to know what you are talking about. I also think it is important for women to help one another. I have a saying: There is a special place in hell for women who don’t.

I would guess that she didn’t mean anything by this other than to express condemnation of the bitchiness (for lack of a better term) that is sometimes reported specifically amongst women in the workplace, and that sort of thing. And maybe there was a time & place when most women really did have shared interests, simply qua women (such as suffrage). But if we’ve learned anything at all from third wave feminism, it’s that women are in many ways more diverse than they are similar (race, class, religion, etc). As such, I don’t think I really have any obligation to help my “sisters” simply because they are women, and that is what this quote prima facie suggests. So I guess I’m going to hell. The special part of it for people who think (gasp!) that moral obligations regarding who we ought to help are not straightforwardly related to coincidences of gender.


  • Peter Twieg wrote:

    I also think that the perverse implication of these kinds of duties grounded in shared consciousness of interest is that it’s relatively okay, I guess, for men to not help women, or perhaps even to go out of their way to act in the interests of the reproduction of patriarchy. There’s a reason why most respected moral theories are agent-neutral…

    Of course, I think this is a kind of off-the-cuff remark which betrays a certain mindset but wouldn’t hold up to reflective equilibrium in the minds of those who might instinctively endorse it.

  • Yes, I too suspect that such a remark would not hold up to reflective equilibrium. Even so, mindsets like this probably do some damage even just floating around casually, unfortunately.

Leave a Reply