Sunday, January 31, 2016

The 'Bernie bro' scam

As close as I can tell, the term 'Bernie bro,' or 'Berniebro' emerged with an article by Robinson Meyer in the Atlantic on October 1 last year. This was when, in the face of a concerted media effort to marginalize Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the Sanders campaign began building an insurgent political momentum that continues to this day. As we stand on the cusp of the first primary (okay, caucus), the berniebro meme is spreading like beltway strip malls. The problem with this article and most everything I have read about berniebro so far has been without specific examples, or with very few. In Meyer's piece, he doesn't cite a single example of the berniebro. Instead, he creates the berniebro as an archetype, which he then ridicules. Jezebel's Johanna Rothkopf picked up on it immediately, and basically reiterated Meyers' piece, with copious citation of him. She includes a few sexist tweets and comments from various men, mostly in response to her own comment on pro-Sanders facebok pages that "Bernie is great, but Hillary is more electable."

First of all, facebook.

Second of all, there are supporters of Bernie Sanders who are sexist and sex-blind. That puts them among most of the population, male and female. We are not a feminist society. Not by a long shot. Clinton receives specifically sexist abuse from right, left, and center because sexism and the male power it underwrites are endemic to our culture and all its institutions. Hello?

I have way more than once said that it is not okay to attack women who are public figures using insults that are insults because they are women. If being a bitch is a bad thing for Hillary Clinton or Ann Coulter, then being a bitch (a female) is a bad thing. Gendered insults are expressions of male power and a special and far-reaching hatred of women.

Women, of course, are generally more sensitive to this; and that is why Clinton's allies would like to create a psychic association between sexism and Sanders - which is what the berniebro meme does. The problem is, if you look at Sanders supporters as a whole, and the rest of the voting population, you are far more likely to find more pro-feminist men among Sanders' supporters. So while there are certainly Sanders' supporters who are male and sexist, the idea that they are especially so is just the same old bullshit of manipulative and deceptive politics. They don't want you to look more closely at this little association they are constructing. They want you to want to be like them, cool and sophisticated and up on the latest memes (I hate that word!).

And I'm not saying sexism among Sanders' supporters is off limits. Quite the contrary. So I'll say this to men who support Sanders, for what it's worth. If you are engaging in sexist verbal or textual abuse of Hillary Clinton, and that includes any term that is exclusively associated with women and any reference to her looks or her anatomy, you need to stop that shit posthaste, because you are hurting women, you are hurting yourselves by consolidating your isolation within the unipolar world of patriarchy, and you are hurting the candidate you are ostensibly supporting. We men like name-calling, because it conforms to our gender-constructed self-image of being aggressive and wanting to be feared. The irony is that our attachment to aggressive masculinity is in fact driven by profound fear. Don't get defensive, gentlemen. As an old man, one thing I can say for sure is that it is always unwise to fight people when they are right. Stay the hell off the comments windows if you feel that mean or stupid thing coming out of your mouth.

Let's go to the polls and elect Sanders.

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