Bernie Sanders Is Speaking At The Women's March Convention & People Are Pissed
On Thursday, Oct. 12, it was announced that Senator Bernie Sanders is speaking at the Women's March convention in Detroit at the end of October. The Women's Convention is being hosted by the same team behind January's Women's March and the subsequent activist work surrounding Donald Trump's presidency. While the theme of the convention is "reclaiming our time," alluding to a viral quote by Rep. Maxine Waters, many are confused as to why the organizers have decided to cede women's time to Sanders, a man whose support of reproductive rights has been spotty.
Sanders is set to give a speech on the opening night of the Women's Convention, which is supposed to be "tapping into the power of women in leadership as the fundamental, grassroots force for change" (so then I guess it makes perfect sense to tap into the power of a man in leadership).
Tamika Mallory, co-founder of the Women's March, told the Detroit Free Press that Sanders was chosen for his work in inspiring young activists. Mallory said,
Mallory said in a statement obtained by Elite Daily,
Many people were less than pleased with this decision, and they took to Twitter to show it.
There are many reasons why people would be angry that Sanders was chosen for an opening night speech at the Women's Convention.
For starters, he's a white man. If this is really supposed to be about "reclaiming our time," we probably shouldn't freely be giving our time away to white men. That takes away time and a platform for women — especially women of color. It seems inherently counterintuitive.
Secondly, it dregs up the sexism stirred throughout the 2016 election, especially in the primaries when Sanders was running against Hillary Clinton. While Sanders was lauded as a progressive, Clinton was shouted down as backwards, despite them having extremely similar stances on policies (the main difference was that Clinton was supporting policies that, y'know, were possible in the real world). Not to mention, the shushing.
And then there's all the bullsh*t from Sanders on reproductive rights.
To continue bringing back old wounds, Clinton made repealing the Hyde Amendment, which restricts women's access to abortion, a major part of her campaign. Sanders, on the other hand, only came up with the same stance after Clinton got support for voicing it. And after Clinton got Planned Parenthood's endorsement in the primaries, Sanders criticized the vital women's health organization as "part of the establishment."
Right after the election last November, Sanders faced backlash for saying the Democratic party has to move beyond identity politics, and he seemingly dismissed Clinton, the first female nominee of a major political party, saying,
Apparently, Sanders missed all of Clinton's detailed policy plans and long history of public service.
This inconsistent support for reproductive rights continued this year. In April, Sanders controversially supported Heath Mello, who is anti-abortion, in a Nebraska mayoral race — a move Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, called "politically stupid." Sanders said at the time,
Because as every woman knows, the right to decide what to do with her own body is just some other issue that's totally negotiable.
This is an especially hypocritical move from the Women's March considering their own non-negotiable stance on reproductive rights. One of the Women's March's stated principles is reproductive rights, including access to abortion. The organization faced criticism for this before the march in January. Linda Sarsour, a co-founder — and a Sanders surrogate during the primaries — said before the January march,
To me, as someone who marched in D.C. in January and cares quite a bit about reproductive rights, Sanders' announced appearance at the Women's Convention is disappointing. While of course we need men to support women's rights, they don't need to be the voice of women's rights and progress, especially when they don't exactly have the best background in actually supporting the most basic aspects of women's rights.
I mean seriously, were no women available that night?
Editor's note: This post was updated to include the statement from Mallory and to correct who Sanders supported in the Nebraska mayoral race.