As New Hampshire voters take to the polls on Tuesday in the nation’s first primary of the 2016 presidential race, they’re doing so amid an all-out battle of the sexes. Gender and sexism have been thrust to the front of the competitive primary race in which Clinton, once the faraway frontrunner, barely edged the upstart Sanders in the Iowa Caucus, and is facing defeat in the Granite State. Slings and arrows are flying in both directions as Hillary Clinton has seen her support among women weaken and Bernie Sanders has seen feminists, especially younger ones, back him with increasing enthusiasm.
Even surrogates for each candidate are wading into the fray and emerging wounded from the ruthless battle. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and feminist icon Gloria Steinem both came under fire over the weekend after commenting on women who back Bernie Sanders. And Bill Clinton leveled withering criticism at Sanders supporters, accusing the so-called “Bernie bros” of unleashing “sexist” and “profane” attacks against Hillary. The accusations drew a response from Jane Sanders, the senator’s wife. “Our surrogates don’t do that,” she said, adding that the supporters of her husband who use caustic and vulgar language in online attacks are a small number, and are not condoned.
Meanwhile, a self-proclaimed feminist wrote an Op-Ed for The Guardian explaining why Bernie Sanders has won her vote — and not Hillary Clinton. Roseann DeMoro, the executive director of National Nurses United, the country’s largest nurses union, rebuked Albright’s and Steinem’s remarks about feminism, calling them “destructive,” and wrote that she’s voting for the longtime senator because “Bernie Sanders is a feminist, too.” DeMoro goes on to liken a possible Clinton presidency to the administration of Margaret Thatcher, whom she argued caused harm to so many “as a result of her policies.” She continued, “You cannot separate gender from race and class: racial and gender discrimination remain very real, incredibly widespread societal problems, impacting people’s daily lives in myriad ways, from law enforcement practices to hiring and promotion opportunities to pay inequities to a profit-focused healthcare system.”
Near the end of her piece, DeMoro addressed the rubber meeting the road as it’s been for many feminists this election cycle — what she describes as a political dilemma based on gender.