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man – and woman, by Bernard Sanders (1972)

This is the article that Senator Bernie Sanders published in “mid-February, 1972”, when he was 30 years old. It appeared in the Vermont Freeman, an “alternative newspaper”. This version of the article is taken from a photo of the article that appeared in MotherJones in May, 2015. 

Once you’ve read the article, re-visit the way this has been portrayed in the mainstream and social media during Sanders’ presidential campaign. They’ve picked the first two paragraphs, the first three sentences, and give no notice to the point of the writing which is articulated in the remaining 12 paragraphs. This is an article from 1972 on the roles that men and women play in their relationship with one another — especially the gender-based dominance (and submissiveness) that was “traditional” at that time.

Recall that 1972 was a time of gender-based role transition — the Equal Rights Amendment was being debated, the feminist movement was gaining steam. The changing role of men and women in a relationship was a common topic, often unspoken.

Sanders dismisses this article as “poorly written”. Perhaps so, but the message behind the words is worthy of a moment’s serious thought.

Not, however, in a political campaign — serious thought is an oft-overlooked casualty of political media coverage. And so it is again.

man – and woman

by Bernard Sanders


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.

The man and woman get dressed up on Sunday — and go to Church, or maybe to their “revolutionary” political meeting.

Have you ever looked at the StagManNeroTough magazines on the shelf of your local bookstore? Do you know why the newspapers with the articles like “Girl 12 raped by 14 men” sell so well? To what in us are they appealing?

Women, for their own preservation, are trying to pull themselves together. And it’s necessary for all of humanity that they do so. Slavishness on one hand breeds pigness on the other hand. Pigness on one hand breeds slavishness on the other. Men and women — both are losers. Women adapt themselves to fill the needs of men, and men adapt themselves to fill the needs of women. In the beginning there were strong men who killed the animals and brought home the food — and the dependent women who cooked it. No more! Only the roles remain — waiting to be shaken off. There are no “human” oppressors. Oppressors have lost their humanity. On one hand “slavishness,” on the other hand “pigness.” Six of one, half dozen of the other. Who wins?

Many women seem to be walking a tightrope now. Their qualities of love, openness, and gentleness were too deeply enmeshed with qualities of dependency, subservience, and masochism. How do you love — without being dependent? How do you be gentle — without being subservient? How do you maintain a relationship without giving up your identity and without getting strung out? How do you reach out and give your heart to your lover, but maintain the soul which is you?

And Men. Men are in pain too. They are thinking, wondering. What is it they want from a woman? Are they at fault? Are they perpetrating this man-woman situation? Are they oppressors?

The man is bitter.

“You lied to me,” he said. (She did).

“You said that you loved me, that you wanted me, that you needed me. Those are your words.” (They are).

“But in reality.” he said, “If you ever loved me, or wanted me, or needed me (all of which I’m not certain was ever true), you also hated me. You hated me — just as you have hated every man in your entire life, but you didn’t have the guts to tell me that. You hated me before you ever saw me, even though I was not your father, or your teacher, or your sex friend when you were 13 years old, or your husband. You hated me not because of who I am, or what I was to you, but because i am a man. You did not deal with me as a person — as me. You lived a lie with me, used me and played games with me — and that’s a piggy thing to do.”

And she said, “You wanted me not as a woman, or a lover, or a friend, but as a submissive woman, or submissive friend, or submissive lover; and right now where my head is I balk at even the slightest suspicion of that kind of demand.

And he said, “You’re full of _________.”

And they never again made love together (which they had each liked to do more than anything) or never ever saw each other one more time.

One reply on “man – and woman, by Bernard Sanders (1972)”

I didn’t think it was poorly written. I would hope that Sanders does not feel the need to run from this. It’s thoughtful and reflective. For my taste, it is excessively thoughtful and reflective (even in the the 1972, 30 year-old context,) but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s better than the flip side. I didn’t realize social media folk were using it against him. But even when selectively quoted, I still see nothing wrong with it. He’s being honest, and that’s refreshing in the current political climate.

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