Bernie Sanders' Essay

Bernie Sanders' famous essay is below. I will reserve comment but I'd like your opinion on it. I will say that the press is handling this rather badly, at least at present, taking quotes with zero context, not addressing the meaning of the essay as a whole. Sanders says it was poorly written. Is it?

Man and Woman

by Bernie Sanders

Mid-February, 1972

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

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

The man and woman get dressed up on Sunday – and go to Church, or maybe to their “revolutionary” political meeting.

Have you ever looked at the Stag Man, Hero, Tough magazines on the shelf of your local bookstore? DO you know why the newspapers with the articles like “Girl 12 raped by 14 men” sell so well?

Women, for their own preservation, are trying to pull themselves together. And it’s necessary for all of humanity that they do so. Slavishness on one hand breeds pigness on the other hand. Pigness on one hand breeds slavishness on the other. Men and women – both are losers. Women adapt themselves to fill the needs of men, and men adapt themselves to fill the needs of women. In the beginning there were strong men who killed the animals and brought home the food – and the dependent women who cooked it. No more! Only the roles remain – waiting to be shaken off. There are no “human” oppressors. Oppressors have lost their humanity. On one hand “slavishness,” on the other hand “pigness.” Six of one, half dozen of the other. Who wins?

Many women seem to be walking a tightrope now. Their qualities of love, openness, and gentleness were too deeply enmeshed with qualities of dependency, subservience, and masochism. How do you love – without being dependent? How do you be gentle – without being subservient? How do you maintain a relationship without giving up your identity and without getting strung out? How do you reach out and give your heart to your lover, but maintain the soul which is you?

And Men. Men are in pain too. They are thinking, wondering. What is it they want from a woman? Are they at fault? Are they perpetrating this man-woman situation? Are they oppressors?

The man is bitter.

“You lied to me,” he said. (She did).

“You said they loved me, that you wanted me, that you needed me. Those are your words.” (They are).

“But in reality,” he said. “If you ever loved me, or wanted me, or needed me. (all of which I’m not certain was ever true), you also hated me. You hated me – just as you have hated every man in your entire life, but you didn’t have the guts to tell me that. You hated me before you ever saw me, even though I was not your father, or your teacher, or your sex friend when you were 13 years old, or your husband. You hated me not because of who I am, or what I was to you, but because I am a man. You did not deal with me as a person – as me. You lived a lie with me, used me and played games with me – and that’s a piggy thing to do.”

And she said, “You wanted me not as a woman, or a lover, or a friend, but as a submissive woman, or submissive friend, or submissive lover; and right now where my head is I balk at even the slightest suspicion of that kind of demand.

And she said, “You’re full of ___.”

And they never made love together (which they had each liked to do more than anything) or never saw each other one more time.

More like this

Essentially a long winded way of saying the old ways of men/women interactions and carried on by traditions & supported by religion are making their lives miserable and the teachings are being carried on, and that to win we must change.
As a part of this, my parents raised me to be kind and gentle, OTHER MALES, however, said I should be forceful & never cry. And women told me the same thing as they would date the OTHER MALES but not gentle me.
So the problems of the interactions are carried on by both sides.

I wouldn't wear a leisure suit from 1972. Neither would I try on anything from that essay from the same era.

By Richard Chapman (not verified) on 01 Jun 2015 #permalink

What RC @#2 said.

It was the 70s: a time when weird and amateurish gibberings were celebrated for their own sake.

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 01 Jun 2015 #permalink

This essay is from 43 years ago, and yes, it is somewhat poorly written - but his drift, upon reading it, is easily caught. This man clearly wants both men and women to break out of their ancient roles and become equals, respecting one another. He sees a problem, explains it, and suggests that changes to solve the problem are not easy.

It makes no sense to pretend that this relic of a much younger, inexperienced man is reflective of his position today - but it does lend insight to his perception of inequity and disrespect between the genders.

I would no more hold this against a neocon than against Sanders. What they say NOW counts a lot more.

By Bruce Jensen (not verified) on 01 Jun 2015 #permalink

Definitely seems like a first draft of some musings about gender roles.

In the begining of the universe was popping up females quantum bubbles and male bubbles. One was born as a little point and was fulfilled with energy till exploding; the other was born full of energy becoming empty till disappearing. Both had no more than 17 miilonth of a second lifetime. When they met in the space they shock destroying each other and this energy created the chaos. Only after long time they discovered that was better for both surviving if the bubble full give the energy to the bubble that was dying and then, before exploding, it returns the energy to that was dying by mssing energy. The evolution of this process created the nuclear gluon between proton and nêutron and the whole Universe today. This is the Physics of Nobel prize Hideki Yukawa.
It happens that evolution is made off by waves which repeats the first steps of prior waves. So, when evolution arrive to biological systems, that ancient process was called ^sexy^. At the beginings of each evolutionary cycle a new system begins with the internal conflict between its negative and positive forces, but with time, they learn how to join and then the system gets its transcendence. Men and women are still the internal conflict inside the human species but we know which will be the finalof this history. More details see Matrix/DNA Theory.

By Louis Morelli (not verified) on 01 Jun 2015 #permalink

Dated indeed and not terribly well written in my view.

The essay speaks for soem experiences of some men and some women and unfairly generalises it I reckon.

Have you ever looked at the Stag Man, Hero, Tough magazines on the shelf of your local bookstore? DO you know why the newspapers with the articles like “Girl 12 raped by 14 men” sell so well?

And nowadays we have the internet ..

In the beginning there were strong men who killed the animals and brought home the food – and the dependent women who cooked it.

That's a popular or maybe rather common belief. Its not necessarily what the reality was.


I don't think this particularly helps or hinders Bernie Sanders campaign. You can read a lot of good or bad or nothing really into it depending on how you choose to interpret it. He hasn't really made any decisive statements of fact with alot implied and ambiguous but for this single powerful and definitive line :

Women, for their own preservation, are trying to pull themselves together. And it’s necessary for all of humanity that they do so.

Which rather goes against the following sentences and seems a bit disjointed from them.

Its all a bit stream of consciousness and, as noted can be interpreted in a few ways but mainly seems to say there's a lot of fault and misunderstandings and pain on both sides of the gender divide. Which unsurprisingly for the time (& perhaps his age when he wrote this?) also ignores a whole lot of extra complexities about gender identity and is very binary in its approach which we now realise there's more to gender than just that black /white make/female duality. (Trans, intersex, neither gender, etc ..)

Haven't heard of this essay before and no idea if was published at the time and, if so, when and where.

Or whether it was a first draft of later one where running through and brainstorming various thoughts because it sort of seems like first draft, random wandering brain-storming on a theme rather than a proper intellectual academic essay. There's also obviously a lack of any specific data in it. , which again to me suggests a first or early unfinished draft.

By Astrostevo (not verified) on 02 Jun 2015 #permalink

Well, we know Wildling women hunted alongside their men. :-)

I see something that's kin of stream of consciousness also, and with a little 70s-new-agey stuff thrown in.

I agree that it seems to be some musings on how gender roles can make people unhappy and dishonest with each other.

Not sure how relevant this is to much of anything, really, except an insight into what looks like the (slightly stoned?) musings of a 30-year-old in 1972.

Bruce Jensen said pretty much what I would have said about this essay — that it's poorly written but holds a lot of truth.

There's a 1991 book that has some good stuff to say on this question: Sam Keen's Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man. One of many, of course.

Relevance to Senator Sanders's present positions is tenuous. It's on the basis of those that I just checked his name in the Democratic Party survey.

By Christopher Winter (not verified) on 02 Jun 2015 #permalink