Read time: 6 minutes

I'll Cut Bernie Sanders A Break On That Sex Essay

Right-wingers claim it's appalling that Bernie Sanders wrote an essay about male and female sex fantasies for an alternative paper in Vermont in 1972, and say it's hypocritical that he's not being raked over the coals in the press for it.
I'll Cut Bernie Sanders A Break On That Sex Essay
Image from: Chicago Maroon

Right-wingers claim it's appalling that Bernie Sanders wrote an essay about male and female sex fantasies for an alternative paper in Vermont in 1972, and say it's hypocritical that he's not being raked over the coals in the press for it:

In a 1972 essay, presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) opined that men fantasized about women being abused. He also claimed that women fantasized about being gang raped.

In an article entitled "Men-And-Women," published in an alternative newspaper called the "Vermont Freeman" Sanders shared his thoughts on male and female sexuality in ways that would cause a media firestorm if it had been penned by any current GOP candidate. Even one with as little chance at grabbing his party's nomination as Sanders currently has.

"A man goes home and masturbates his typical fantasy," wrote Sanders. "A woman on her knees. A woman tied up. A woman abused."

Sanders didn't specify as to how he had gained such a deep understanding of the male psyche.

In terms of his understanding of female sexual fantasies, Sanders provided similar insight.

"A woman enjoys intercourse with her man--as she fantasizes about being raped by 3 men simultaneously."

Here's the whole essay, via Mother Jones, which unearthed it:

The essay is cringe-inducing -- but in a very clumsy way, Sanders is stumbling toward a humane point: relations between the sexes should be steeped in less pain and cruelty. I'm a generation younger than Sanders, but my adolescence was in the early 1970s, and being a straight male and struggling to reconcile the worldviews of Larry Flynt and Gloria Steinem was confusing. Even cruel sexually explicit material seemed excitingly countercultural -- not just porn, but, for instance, Last Tango in Paris (which was released in the U.S. the same month Sanders published this essay). Yet if you had any human decency at all, it was obvious that the arguments of feminism were morally compelling. I can't imagine Sanders's worldview as my own in adolescence, but I can imagine nodding thoughtfully if a high school friend described male-female interactions as a sad battle between male "pigness" and a female "slavishness" brought on by an internalization of a piggish male worldview. Enlightenment takes time.


↓ Story continues below ↓

****

Right-wingers think liberal media bias is depriving them of an opportunity to humiliate the entire Democratic Party. Here's Charles C.W. Cooke at National Review arguing that this would be a major scandal if it had happened on the right:

... it wouldn’t just be Ted Cruz or Rick Santorum who would be asked about the essay: it would be every Republican in the race. In fact, it would be every Republican not in the race, too. Moreover, we’d see a host of think pieces on the GOP’s apparent ”rape problem”; we’d see endless Salon posts claiming stupidly that these attitudes were the product of free-market economics or a lack of gun control or of the pernicious influence that Protestantism has on the American mind; and we’d see dubious “studies” and ill-gotten “polls” commissioned to back up the message du jour. On cable news, the Democratic party’s cheaper mouthpieces would reference it over and over again. On social media, snarky memes would be made and sent around, the better to influence the low-information voters who are crucial come presidential-election season. Immediately, Planned Parenthood would start a fundraising drive. And eventually, when the drumbeat became too much to handle, the essay’s author would resign or withdraw or commit some form of political seppuku

But, of course, the guy who said the following in a 2003 AP interview didn't commit political seppuku -- in fact, he just announced another run for president:

SANTORUM: ... Every society in the history of man has upheld the institution of marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. Why? Because society is based on one thing: that society is based on the future of the society. And that's what? Children. Monogamous relationships. In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality --

AP: I'm sorry, I didn't think I was going to talk about "man on dog" with a United States senator, it's sort of freaking me out.

SANTORUM: And that's sort of where we are in today's world, unfortunately. The idea is that the state doesn't have rights to limit individuals' wants and passions. I disagree with that. I think we absolutely have rights because there are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire. And we're seeing it in our society.

See a difference between that and what Sanders wrote? Sanders wasn't advocating sexual brutality. Santorum was advocating curtailment of the rights of gay people (even though, as he so generously acknowledged, compared to people who commit bestiality they aren't that bad).

Another Republican who didn't commit political seppuku: Bob McDonnell in 2009.

At age 34, two years before his first election and two decades before he would run for governor of Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell submitted a master's thesis to the evangelical school he was attending in Virginia Beach in which he described working women and feminists as "detrimental" to the family. He said government policy should favor married couples over "cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators." He described as "illogical" a 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples.

That story broke in late August of 2009. McDonnell was elected governor the following November.

Again, see the difference? What was controversial in McDonnell's thesis was what he actually advocated -- and went on to advocate as an officeholder:

The 93-page document, which is publicly available at the Regent University library, culminates with a 15-point action plan that McDonnell said the Republican Party should follow to protect American families -- a vision that he started to put into action soon after he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

During his 14 years in the General Assembly, McDonnell pursued at least 10 of the policy goals he laid out in that research paper, including abortion restrictions, covenant marriage, school vouchers and tax policies to favor his view of the traditional family. In 2001, he voted against a resolution in support of ending wage discrimination between men and women

But the right likes to ignore intent. The Sanders non-scandal reminds me of the right's attempt to smear Jim Webb during his 2006 Senate campaign by pointing out lurid passages in his Vietnam War novels, such as one in which a man on a road in placed a young boy's penis in his mouth -- never mind the fact that this is probably something Webb actually saw during his combat years. Intent doesn't matter. All that matters is shock value.

Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog

Comments

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service (revised 3/17/2016) for information on our posting policy.