Yesterday, the news that Bernie Sanders would be the keynote speaker at the Women’s Convention hit me like a punch in the gut. I started crying. The first Women’s Convention in 40 years, and now, in addition to not having a female president, women apparently can’t be the opening speaker for women’s groups anymore.
It’s bad enough that all of my elected representatives are men who I did not vote for. It’s bad enough that, living in a red state, when I call, or protest, or make my voice heard, I am ignored. It’s bad enough that I see how what is going on in my government is harmful to families, both my own and others I care about. It’s bad enough watching progress that was hard fought and hard won be rolled back. It’s bad enough watching an unapologetic misogynistic, rapist, bully command power he never should have been given and it is agonizing living under his rule. It is humiliating and every day, as someone who has been bullied, I am triggered.
But now a prominent women’s group went and gave a prominent speaking role to Bernie Sanders.
Bernie Sanders, who speaks at women, not to them.
Bernie Sanders, who cares a lot about white male issues but barely concerns himself with issues I care about, such as paid family leave, affordable access to childcare, support for families with children with disabilities, making early education work for all children, etc.
Bernie Sanders, who threw Planned Parenthood and NARAL under the bus and who has supported forced birth candidates and who has dismissed reproductive rights as identity politics and a distraction from more important issues that effect white men. Good to know that an economic issue (yes, access to reproductive services is economic) that affects women and, considering that, if we don’t have the financial resources we need to get a late term abortion which are usually only performed with the fetus is not compatible with life or the women’s life is in danger, we could die, are a distraction from more important issues. Women’s lives are a distraction from more important issues in Sander’s mind.
Bernie Sanders, who said he was more of a feminist than Madeleine Kunin when she ran against him. And where he learned to sharpen the attacks he would later use against Hillary Clinton.
Bernie Sanders, who I watched as he dragged Clinton through the mud, said she was not qualified, fed his supporters koolaid about superdelegates and a contested convention and a rigged primary because, I guess, the thought of a woman beating him by honest means was too much for his delicate male ego. One of my friends from high school was a Bernie delegate, and I watched in horror as they went to the DNC and planned to disrupt it. I watched as an entire day of the DNC was devoted to the loser in an attempt to please them even as it hurt so bad because, for the first time a woman was nominated to a major party, and it still could not be all about her. She had to bend over backwards to appease her opponent, and it was not enough for them. I watched in frustration as his supporters staged walk outs, booed speakers, women and other activists who have dedicated their lives to women’s issues, because these people were supporting Clinton and not Sanders. I am still angry and bitter about it, and I knew I would never be able to forgive Bernie for it. Rather than the convention being about Clinton, her accomplishments, and what this meant for women and feminism, the convention was about his delicate male ego.
And then November happened, and the white male backlash to all of the progress that has been made during President Obama’s administration began. Every day feels like a nightmare. One emergency after another, one loss after another. I already don’t know what to tell my daughter, aside from keep fighting. And now this.
Now a supposedly feminist organization that is supposed to lift women’s voices gives the keynote speaker role to a man who is not an ally. They gave it to a man who turned a women’s historic achievement into an event about his bruised ego. They gave it to a man who will throw reproductive right’s under the bus if he gets his $15 an hour minimum wage. Women can’t be president, much less be the keynote speaker’s at a women’s group anymore. It feels as though Sanders wants to co-opt and destroy feminism, and that too many women are so dewy eyed over him that they are willing to let him do it.
I’m not, and fortunately, many others aren’t. I am screaming at the Women’s March right now, along with thousands of others. This is one indignity too many. I have no interest in supporting an organization that lets a white male mansplain to women. There are plenty of others to devote my time to.