An email sent to the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign:
Dear Senator Sanders;
My name is Allison, and I have been a fan of yours for years. I have listened to you speak on news programs with a huge smile on my face, taking comfort in the fact that there was someone on the Senate who talked like I did about the issues that were important to me.
I initially thought when you announced your run for president that I would be a Bernie supporter all the way.
Imagine my disappointment to hear your campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, attacking your opponent Hillary Clinton on the basis of her “ambition.” Stating that Clinton’s ambitions are a danger to the party. To hear you state that she isn’t “qualified.”
Senator Sanders, I’m a fiction author trying to make a living in a world largely dominated by men. That landscape is slowly changing for female fiction authors, and it’s changing not because men are becoming nicer and nicer, but because of women like me, who are willing to stand up and chase our ambitions in a world that consistently and overwhelmingly tells us to sit down and shut up.
And to hear Weaver state that her ambitions are somehow a danger to the party, a party that you are not only actively campaigning against in many ways, but that you still are not fundraising for, is absurd.
And to hear you yourself question whether or not she is qualified, when you yourself praised her qualifications in 2008 via twitter, is equally heartbreaking. The myth of diminished female credibility does women and girls in this country active harm. As fivethirtyeight.com notes, the belief in a lack of qualifications is a big part of what keeps women out of government. And this diminished credibility is a myth, since research shows that female candidates overall, in both parties, are actually more qualified than male candidates. Not only are they simply more qualified, but evidence shows that women in political office, whether Republican or Democrat, do a better job of representing women’s interests than do even well-intentioned male politicians.
And I guess what’s really confusing to me is that there are many good, important things to be critical of Hillary Clinton about. Actual substantive issues having to do with her political stance and her history in government. Issues that have in fact caused my support of Hillary Clinton to waver in dark and quiet moments. But instead your campaign attacks her credibility.
This is the kind of thing I would expect from Mitt Romney, or from Donald Trump. It’s certainly not the kind of thing I would expect to hear coming from your campaign, Senator Sanders, a politician that I have looked up to for years.
So to realize that your campaign is comfortable relying on these old sexist dog whistle statements is to have yet another layer of political innocence stripped away from me. How cynical, Senator Sanders, regardless of your actual beliefs or policy, to be willing to further the oppression of women and girls in order to boost your own campaign prospects. Especially in a nation in which women are consistently under-represented politically, even now.
How long are we going to continue to tell women and girls to sit down, to be quiet, to cede ambition to men? I know I will die without seeing gender equality in the United States; it is a painful truth that I have now internalized. But I have friends with young daughters; the idea that they will be asked, as I have been, to sit down and shut up is too much to bear.
How can you ask me, a female professional struggling to prove her worth in a world still dominated by male voices, to vote for you after hearing these kinds of things from your campaign?