I have spent much of my career as a diplomat. It is an occupation in which words and context matter a great deal. So one might assume I know better than to tell a large number of women to go to hell.
But last Saturday, in the excitement of a campaign event for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, that is essentially what I did, when I delivered a line I have uttered a thousand times to applause, nodding heads and laughter: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” It is a phrase I first used almost 25 years ago, when I was the United States ambassador to the United Nations and worked closely with the six other female U.N. ambassadors. But this time, to my surprise, it went viral.
I absolutely believe what I said, that women should help one another, but this was the wrong context and the wrong time to use that line. I did not mean to argue that women should support a particular candidate based solely on gender. But I understand that I came across as condemning those who disagree with my political preferences. If heaven were open only to those who agreed on politics, I imagine it would be largely unoccupied.
However, I do want to explain why I so firmly believe that, even today, women have an obligation to help one another.