With New York’s primary election date steadily approaching, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore a growing trend among supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders. As someone in full support of Sanders, I am entirely sympathetic to—and often contribute to—legitimate criticisms of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
There is a huge difference, however, between valid criticisms of Clinton’s policies and decisions and the blatant misogyny that has flooded my Twitter and Facebook feeds. Too much focus has been put on irrelevant, gender-based criticisms of Clinton from both supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Sanders.
Unsurprisingly, the Internet has proved to be an excellent platform for relatively uneducated and politically unaware people to voice their every thought regarding Clinton. As a young woman, I know for certain I am growing tired of older generations of women scolding me for not supporting the prospect of a female president—ultimately questioning my feminist ethics. While the majority of Sanders supporters are feminist in their principles, it is undeniable that Clinton is the target of misogynistic rhetoric from Republicans and Democrats alike. The recent hashtag “#BernieBros” is enough to make my head spin.
An example of this blatant misogyny can be found in an MSNBC segment that meticulously discussed Clinton’s public speaking techniques in March. After Clinton gave a speech in Detroit regarding job creation and gender equality, three male reporters on MSNBC’s “Hardball” took it upon themselves to criticize Clinton for shouting during speeches.
One of them stated: “There’s a private version of Hillary Clinton that’s very winning and very charming, that’s because there’s no microphone.” Because, as we know, a presidential candidate’s most valuable asset is their charm.
Clinton herself has spoken out about the constant criticism of her “shrillness,” stating, “I've been told to stop, and I quote, ‘Shouting about gun violence.’ Well, first of all, I'm not shouting, it's just, when women talk, some people think we're shouting.” This is a classic example of a passionate woman being labeled as overly emotional and abrasive.
These criticisms of Clinton are just more examples of women being told to quiet down and be politer. Sanders himself had to condemn the growing misogynistic attacks on Clinton from his own supporters, stating, “We have many hundreds of thousands of supporters, and some of them have gone over the edge. I apologize for that.”
Clinton has consistently shown dishonesty and troubling associations with issues many college students take seriously, such as welfare reform, militaristic ventures and her ties with corporate powers. I support Sanders because his values coincide with my own, primarily with his stances on abortion, college tuition and minimum wage.
Trump and Sanders supporters alike are guilty of criticizing Clinton for irrelevant issues that are tied to her gender. Mocking Clinton for “barking like a dog”—as Trump has—is not a legitimate criticism. Sanders is known for hollering and wildly gesturing from behind a podium without once being called shrill. We need to stop associating assertiveness and power with “bitchiness” when it comes to women.
Regardless of who you'll be voting for in the primaries, take it upon yourself to end the misogyny that is increasingly apparent in this election.