Let’s Not Crucify Bernie Sanders for His Sexual-Fantasies Essay

by Charles C. W. Cooke

The Media Research Center notes that Senator Bernie Sanders once wrote a bizarre essay about the divergent sexual fantasies of men and women:

In a 1972 essay, presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) opined that men fantasized about women being abused. He also claimed that women fantasized about being gang raped.

In an article entitled “Men-And-Women,” published in an alternative newspaper called the “Vermont Freeman” Sanders shared his thoughts on male and female sexuality in ways that would cause a media firestorm if it had been penned by any current GOP candidate. Even one with as little chance at grabbing his party’s nomination as Sanders currently has.

“A man goes home and masturbates his typical fantasy,” wrote Sanders. “A woman on her knees. A woman tied up. A woman abused.”

Sanders didn’t specify as to how he had gained such a deep understanding of the male psyche.

In terms of his understanding of female sexual fantasies, Sanders provided similar insight.

“A woman enjoys intercourse with her man — as she fantasizes about being raped by 3 men simultaneously.”

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.

How true these words are. 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 race. In fact, it would be every Republican not in the race, too. Moreover, we’d see a host of think pieces on the GOP’s apparent ”rape problem”; we’d see endless Salon posts claiming stupidly that these attitudes were the product of free-market economics or a lack of gun control or of the pernicious influence that Protestantism has on the American mind; and we’d see dubious “studies” and ill-gotten “polls” commissioned to back up the message du jour. On cable news, the Democratic party’s cheaper mouthpieces would reference it over and over again. On social media, snarky memes would be made and sent around, the better to influence the low-information voters who are crucial come presidential-election season. Immediately, Planned Parenthood would start a fundraising drive. And eventually, when the drumbeat became too much to handle, the essay’s author would resign or withdraw or commit some form of political seppuku.

And here’s the thing: That’s bloody awful.

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. This is America: land of second chances. This is a place of redemption and of reinvention and of continual learning. Nobody honestly believes that Bernie Sanders is a sexual pervert or that he is a misogynist or that he intends to do women any harm. Nobody suspects that he harbors a secret desire to pass intrusive legislation or to cut gang rapists a break. Really, there is only one reason that anyone would make hay of this story, and that is to damage the man politically. Perhaps I’m old-fashioned. Perhaps I’m hopelessly idealistic. But until I see any sign of actual wrongdoing I’d much prefer to slam Sanders for his dangerous and ridiculous politics than to delve back into his past and embarrass him with a long-forgotten opinion. I certainly hope that my fellow conservatives will feel the same way, even if they do not enjoy the same courtesy from their adversaries.

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