Bernie Sanders has said he's proud of his record on women's issues, but his rivals in the Hillary Clinton camp aren't so sure he's the rock solid feminist he claims to be. While the progressive Vermont senator has gone as far as to defend Clinton against sexist attacks, he has recently faced a rash of accusations of being sexist himself.
During the Democratic debate, for example, Sanders accused Clinton of "shouting" about gun control; Clinton later claimed that Sanders' remark was an example of sexist language. Later, Sanders' campaign manager Jeff Weaver joked that, "we're willing to consider [Clinton] for vice president... we'll even interview her," further souring the Sanders campaign in the eyes of feminists. The fact that nearly all of Sanders' top campaign strategists are men also hasn't helped his case.
Clinton and her supporters aren't alone in their accusations, however. Politico recalls that in 1986, when Sanders ran and lost against Madeleine Kunin in the race for Vermont governor, he made a point of suggesting that because his opponent was a woman, that was not a good enough reason to vote for her. "He tried to be more of a feminist than I was to appeal to the women's vote," Kunin told Politico. "I found that very difficult."
Sanders also got into hot water when he was running against Diane Gallagher for mayor of Burlington in 1985. "He is setting me up to the rich bitch, the girl with the pearls, Lady Di," Gallagher told the Burlington Free Press at the time.
None of this has escaped feminists keeping watch on the current campaign. "I'm stunned that a man like Bernie Sanders, who has clearly committed his life to making the country a better place, would get sucked into this very dangerous rhetoric, which perpetuates sexist and misogynistic stereotypes," former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, now a Clinton supporter, told Politico. "The candidate is supposed to set the tone, set the agenda. If Bernie Sanders does not want to be seen as someone who uses sexist language and perpetuates a dangerous sexist stereotype of strong women, then he should tell his people to stop. And if they don't stop, he should fire them."