Bernie Sanders is a fringe candidate at best – one could say he makes Ron Paul look like a mainstream moderate. That said, he’s about as relevant in the upcoming presidential elections as the town dog catcher. But, that fact isn’t going to stop the “moral outrage” from the right about an essay he wrote in 1972.
Sure, the opening lines are provocative. Placing the essay in its era, and recognizing the fact that Sanders wrote this as a disaffected youth that had already struck out at least more than once in the world of meaningful relationships with women, it’s really not so strange. If I put on my literary publisher cap from years gone, I’d have to say I wouldn’t have published it – “too much navel-gazing, and overwrought emotionalism” would have been scrawled on it in red ink. Honestly, Sanders wrote like a girl.
Mother Jones was kind, because they bothered to suggest that Sanders may have been influenced by Sigmund Freud. I’d wager it was more Kinsey and whiskey, than anything else. I’m also not buying the excuse offered by his campaign to Jake Tapper – nothing satirical about this essay.
As for the self-righteous outrage coming from the right, I call bullsh**.
Sanders is guilty of poor writing skills, and putting pen to paper when he was drunk on alcohol, angst, or both. But, he didn’t lie.
The fact is that women do fantasize about rape. No, this isn’t a new development, either. It dates back to ancient times. Doubt that? Take a course on classic art!
For those that are too lazy to take a look at the link on women fantasizing about rape, from Psychology Today:
But rape fantasies raise thorny issues. Many women who have them can’t shake the feeling that they are abnormal or perverted.
From 1973 through 2008, nine surveys of women’s rape fantasies have been published. They show that about four in 10 women admit having them (31 to 57 percent) with a median frequency of about once a month. Actual prevalence of rape fantasies is probably higher because women may not feel comfortable admitting them.
For the latest report (Bivona, J. and J. Critelli. “The Nature of Women’s Rape Fantasies: An Analysis of Prevalence, Frequency, and Contents,” Journal of Sex Research (2009) 46:33), psychologists at North Texas University asked 355 college women: How often have you fantasized being overpowered/forced/raped by a man/woman to have oral/vaginal/anal sex against your will?
Sixty-two percent said they’d had at least one such fantasy. But responses varied depending on the terminology used. When asked about being “overpowered by a man,” 52 percent said they’d had that fantasy, the situation most typically depicted in women’s romance fiction. But when the term was “rape,” only 32 percent said they’d had the fantasy. These findings are in the same ballpark as previous reports.
Frequency of rape fantasies varied substantially. Thirty-eight percent of respondents never had them. Of those who did, 25 percent reported such fantasies less than once a year. Thirteen percent had them a few times a year, 11 percent once a month, 8 percent once a week, and 5 percent several times a week. (Twenty-one percent of the respondents said they’d been sexually assaulted in real life.)
Rape fantasies can be either erotic or aversive. In erotic fantasies, the woman thinks: “I’m being forced and I enjoy it.” In aversive fantasies, she thinks: “I’m being forced and I hate it.” Forty-five-percent of the women in the recent survey had fantasies that were entirely erotic. Nine percent were entirely aversive. And 46 percent were mixed.
As for the contention that men desire to see women subjugated, excuse me as I lean back and yawn.
No, there isn’t anything wrong with what Sanders wrote, at least when it comes to accuracy of content. His writing sucks – severely. But that’s a matter of literary taste. He’s guilty of crimes against rhetoric, not against women. It’s most likely that he doesn’t agree with what he wrote back then – his opinion probably shifted within weeks or months of when it was originally published. Bottom line is that his thought processes probably shifted at least enough to make the Puritanical portions of the right-wing satisfied as soon as he managed to get laid. Enjoy the irony of that if you like. As for trying to crucify him for what he said then, since the essay didn’t suggest that we need to legalize rape or force women to take to their knees in the presence of men, I’d say we’re safe. Sanders has far more dangerous concepts rattling around in his old skull. Let’s stick to worrying about them, shall we?