“Excuse Me, I’m Talking” – Bernie Sanders’ Cringey GIFable Moment
This week Bernie Sanders is learning that you can be a good man who respects women and still be tone-deaf when it comes to having an argument with one – or at least I hope he’s learning that.
At the last Democratic presidential debate, Sanders got more grouchy than we’ve seen him up to this point, particularly when Hillary Clinton tried to interrupt him. As he was responding to her accusations that he voted against the auto bailout by accusing her of supporting Wall Street over the middle class, Clinton interjected “You know…” and Sanders waved his finger at her and snapped, “Excuse me, I’m talking.”
The crowd audibly gasped.
Here’s the thing. I don’t think Bernie Sanders is sexist or doesn’t respect Clinton as a person or anything like that. I’m sure he’s gruff and scolding with anyone who talks over him when he’s riled up. But what woman out there hasn’t heard almost exactly those words from an overbearing father, boyfriend or male boss and felt a stab of rage and frustration at some point in their lives?
Here’s how Clinton’s digital outreach lead Zerlina Maxwell reacted, for example:
Other commentators were quick to point out how bad the moment looked for Sanders – and the knowing glance Clinton gave to the crowd showed just how aware of that she was.
This is where awareness of feminist discussions and tropes is important – because no matter how valid Sanders’ point was, it’s far too easy for Clinton’s campaign to make a GIFable moment out of this exchange. By not paying attention to how his finger-wagging and scolding plays with women, Sanders allowed himself to be goaded into a moment that will be replayed all over the internet for days, and make him seem out of touch.