How not to be a sexist jerk this election season

I swore I wasn’t going to do an election strip this week, but the alternative was a comic about excessive amounts of cellulose filler found in cans of grated Parmesan cheese. You can guess how well that went.

Let me say up front that I do not consider Bernie to be a sexist jerk, since I know that’s what many people are going to assume. To the contrary, I think he’s a feminist. He did, however, say something uncool that I felt needed calling out (in the same spirit, let’s say, that he publicly criticizes Obama when he disagrees with him). For those unfamiliar with the backstory, Bernie was defending a controversial comment made by the rapper Killer Mike (who was actually quoting a feminist scholar friend) about a uterus not qualifying one to be president. Setting aside the point that I think most Hillary supporters are factoring in more than just the uterus situation, Bernie’s claim that he would never ask voters to support him because he’s a man struck me as an odd case of false equivalence, the kind of context-free, ahistorical argument we tend to hear from right-wingers shooting down affirmative action or calls for greater workplace diversity. Of course he wouldn’t ask people to vote for him because he’s a man. There’s no need!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not particularly attached to either Hillary or Bernie, but I do think we need more women in politics. While gender certainly — obviously! — shouldn’t be the only factor, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a female president. And while I think the “Bernie Bro” phenomenon has been somewhat overstated, I’ve come to realize that a lot of otherwise well-meaning people just don’t quite take our nation’s glaring absence of a single female president or vice president very seriously. You don’t even have to support Hillary to acknowledge that solving the problem is important. Just as President Obama has provided a positive role model and sense of possibility to countless numbers of people, a woman in the Oval Office would have a powerful effect.


  • Bookworm

    I agree with you about needing more women. I just hate for Hillary to be the first woman President, even though at this point she seems to be the best choice.

  • vatreehugger

    “You don’t even have to support Hillary to acknowledge that solving the problem is important.”

    No one really disagrees with that except the Clinton supporters making up terms like “BernieBro”….the ones who equate not supporting Clinton to not taking the glaring absence of a single female president or vice president very seriously…..and then act surprised when such critiques lead to a backlash from internet trolls.

    Saying you want to see a female president in your lifetime is perfectly respectable. Saying you’re voting for the woman because you want to see a female president is not. Now I certainly agree that Clinton supporters who are voting “just” for her gender are primarily a straw-man…..but then again, so are their imaginary critics saying “c’mon, what’s the hurry?”.

    • InheritTheWindow

      Both Democratic candidates have their absurdly devoted supporters, and have rightly garnered nicknames for their zealotry. For every Bernie Bro there is a Hillary Bot. There are also tons of Democrats who prefer one candidate but can totally understand the appeal of the other.

      • vatreehugger

        In general I would agree, but I find it dishonest to suggest that the whole “BernieBro” trope isn’t being harped upon and overexagerrated significantly more disproportionately than “Hillary Bots”. Indeed, the only reason we’ve heard more from the “BernieBros” is because of how much more progressive media has been nitpicking at Sanders and his supporters in the first place.

        Both sides indeed have their crazy, rude extremists. Sanders’ extremists get upset at “Hillary Bots” because they don’t like them supporting a candidate who they see as a “phony-establishment-wall-street-insider”…….Hillary’s extremists get upset at “BernieBros” because they’re not supporting the woman. There’s a pretty significant difference there.

        • InheritTheWindow

          In the online areas that I frequent, I see far more and far meaner vitriol slung at Clinton by Sanders supporters than the other way around.

          Also you are being disingenuous with your reasons for why Hillary Bots criticize Bernie Bros. They are concerned that Sanders is not electable nationally, doesn’t have the foreign policy chops, and has no real path to implementing any of his policy.

          • vatreehugger

            I’m not just talking about random individual comments on the internet. I’m talking about actual media coverage, both with mainstream outlets – like the Washington Post and CNN and Time – and more liberal online outlets like the Atlantic, Motherjones, Jezebel, RHRealityCheck, Slate, ThinkProgress, BuzzFeed…..Gloria Steinem’s own comments deriding Sanders’ supporters. It’s not even a contest how much more the BernieBro stereotype has been overgeneralized and blown out of proportion, and it carries an extra sting that so much of it comes from fellow liberals/progressives/feminists who one would expect better of.

            In light of that, I’m very sure you are going to see more individuals on the Sanders’ side getting angry and riled up online. That was kinda the point of my previous comment. Sanders get nitpicked and attacked more, his supporters get labeled and stereotyped and overgeneralized more, which will naturally rile up his supporters more, and then they in turn are further attacked and criticized for getting more riled up.

            I was also only using the Bro/Bot labels to apply to the extremes of either side. To me, those labels don’t apply to any general supporter of either candidate. To me, the Clinton supporters who focus on electability or policy are not “extremists” or “crazies” or “Bots” who dole out the BernieBro label. That’s something I typically only hear from the ilk that suggests support of Sanders is synonymous with an indifference towards or ignorance of women in politics – or with being a frat boy who hates minorities – and in turn opt for a gendered pejorative.

  • InheritTheWindow

    I think I speak for all present when I say, We’d love to get a look at that Parmesan cartoon.

  • Alan Barta

    Norm Chomsky would be quick to point out that Democratic and Republican are merely labels, not platforms. Many the social reforms progressives would like to see expanded began in Republican administrations, for example, race emancipation under Lincoln. But the names get claimed by self serving oligarchs, so you can’t vote along party lines. Been an independent for my entire voting career, but politicians find that doesn’t collect enough support to win elections.

  • Timothy Weaver

    Are you losing the debate? Just play the gender card and slander your opposition with baseless accusation of sexism which allows you to claim victory.

    You’re a piece of shit for slandering Trump supporters with false claims of sexism.

    Fuck you.

    • Alan Barta

      Typical Trump supporter… foul mouthed mindless namecaller, misogynist, neo-Nazi, white supremacist. Chauvanists can help but love this bigoted combover marshmallow male, not to mention criminals, gamblers, gangsters, John Birchers, mental defectives, and whores, his peeps. A coalition of top Republicans (who represent 29% of voters) just denounced him en masse. Democrats (with whom 31% of voters affiliate) hate him. But Independents (38% affiliation) will decide this election, just like they have in last 10 cycles.

    • Sven

      Not all Trump supporters are woman-hating sexists.

      But all woman-hating sexists are Trump supporters.

Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.