U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders penned an essay in 1972 claiming that women fantasize about being gang raped and men fantasize about abusing women.
An independent socialist from Vermont, Sanders is running for president as a Democrat and is the only officially announced rival at this time to Hillary Clinton.
Sanders’ office responded this afternoon that the article was merely a failed attempt at satire.
It was included in a feature about the senator posted by liberal/progressive Mother Jones earlier this week, which called the Sanders-authored tract “a stream-of-consciousness essay on the nature of male-female dynamics.”
At the beginning of the essay in question, called “Man and Woman,” which originally appeared in the Vermont Freeman alternative newspaper, Sanders stated the following.
“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.”
According to CNN’s Jake Tapper, the senator’s office described the newly surfaced essay as “a dumb attempt at dark satire in an alternative publication… intended to attack gender stereotypes in the 70s.” Not everyone on Twitter is buying that explanation, however.
So far, the mainstream media has not run with the story in any significant way. Today, for example, the New York Times published a story lauding Sanders’ “unabashedly progressive message” and described the senator at age 73 as “fit and quick-witted.” CNN similarly explained that “Sanders, an agitator who doesn’t suffer fools, political opponents or journalists gladly, is testing whether the kind of populist, liberal agenda that gave him 75 [percent] approval ratings in his adopted home state can catch fire nationwide.”
The Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group, observed that it would be highly unlikely that the mainstream media would give any Republican a pass for this kind of lurid prose (no matter how far it goes back), especially given the rape-comment controversy that imploded Todd Akin’s 2012 campaign in Missouri for U.S. Senate. “It is unclear where Sanders acquired his early expertise on male and female sexual desires. But what is clear is that had Ted Cruz or Rick Santorum wrote something along these lines — even 40 years ago — the media wouldn’t stop talking about it for weeks.”
National Review columnist Charles C.W. Cooke offered a somewhat different take on how this information would be reported if Sanders was a member of the other political party. “And it wouldn’t just be Ted Cruz or Rick Santorum who would be asked about the essay: it would be every Republican in the [presidential] race. In fact, it would be every Republican not in the race, too.” Cooke continued: “Bernie Sanders wrote these words — and a lot of drivel besides – in 1972. Maybe he was young and foolish. Maybe he was a different man back then. Maybe society was unrecognizable and he had bought into all sorts of faddish psychology. Who knows? And frankly, who cares? Sure, the Democratic party would crucify a Republican for the same offense. But they shouldn’t. A society in which people are drummed out of politics for things they wrote 43 years ago is an ugly society indeed. Sometimes the best way to address hypocrisy is to take the high road…”
Alluding to the double standard, Bloomberg reporter John Heilemann told his With All Due Respect co-host Mark Halperin that “I now we both agree about this, which is that if a Republican, any Republican candidate wrote an essay like this, whether they were 16 years old and high on dope or whether it was two weeks ago, it would be a huge scandal. So I think we need to hold Bernie Sanders to the same standard, and people need to ask him tough questions about it.”
Do you think that Bernie Sanders’ prior written views about a woman’s alleged gang-rape fantasies should or will be an issue in the 2016 presidential campaign?
[Photo by Win McNamee / Getty Images News]
Added: On NBC’s Meet the Press, Sanders deemed the essay a poorly written work of fiction that was like 50 Shades of Grey.