This Prominent Feminist Just Named Bernie Sanders An ‘Honorary Woman’

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I’m trying to imagine Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as a woman, because he apparently is an “honorary woman.” Thursday night, Bernie participated in the Las Vegas Democrat town hall meeting, when the subject of feminism came up.

An unidentified woman raised an intriguing question for the Vermont senator:

‘My question is, do you consider yourself a feminist?’

‘If so, how do you, as a white male, understand the intersectional identities that people of color face, especially when entering high positions of power within business or government?’

Bernie is a long-time supporter of women. His campaign website reminds us Republicans are trying to “eliminate the fundamental rights of women to control their own bodies:”

‘The right-wing in this country is waging a war against women and by working together, we will ensure that is a war they are going to lose.’

But Hillary Clinton constantly plays the woman card. Former Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, campaigned for her in New Hampshire, criticizing Bernie’s female supporters:

‘There is a special place in hell for women who don’t support other women.’

So amidst all the women’s rights rhetoric, Bernie’s historical support for women tends to get lost. Here he answered the woman in the Las Vegas town hall:

‘I consider myself a strong feminist. And, in fact, Gloria Steinem — everybody knows Gloria is one of the leading feminists in America — made me an honorary woman many, many years ago.’

After the laughter quieted, he said:

‘I don’t know exactly what that meant, but I accepted it when she came to campaign for me.’

‘Look, right now in this country, women are making 79 cents on the dollar compared to men. Minority women, women of color, are making substantially less. African-American women are making 54 cents on the dollar.’

‘This is absurd. This has nothing to do with economics and it’s everything to do with sexism. I will fight as hard as I can. And I’ve worked with Harry Reid. We have tried desperately to pass pay equity for women. I will continue that fight.’

Here are some of Bernie’s top priorities for women:

  1. Pay equity for women:
    “It is a national disgrace that women only earn 79 cents for every dollar a man earns. African-American women earn just 64 cents…Hispanic women just 54 cents. He will sign the Paycheck Fairness Act into law to end wage discrimination based on gender.”

2. Reproductive rights of women:
“…Sanders has consistently fought against Republican attacks on women. He would expand, not cut, funding for Planned Parenthood, the Title X family planning program, and other initiatives that protect women’s health, access to contraception, and the availability of a safe and legal abortion.”

3. Supreme Court justices supporting Roe v. Wade (the reproductive rights of women):

“…nominate Supreme Court justices who understand that Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and recognize the rights of women to have access to family planning services.”

4. Quality childcare and pre-k available to all Americans:

“[He] is working on a plan to make high-quality childcare and Pre-K available to every American, regardless of income…the cost of a quality childcare program is out of reach for millions of Americans.”

5. $15 an hour minimum wage by 2020 and $15 tipped minimum wage by 2023:

“Women make up two-thirds of all minimum wage workers. Increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour would help close the gender wage gap.”

“The tipped minimum wage has been $2.13, since 1991. More than two-thirds of tipped workers are women. Increasing the tipped minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2023 would lift millions of women out of poverty.”

6. 12 weeks paid family leave, two weeks of paid vacation, and one week of paid sick days:

“…it is not a family value to force the mother of a new-born baby to go back to work a few days after she gives birth, because she doesn’t have the money to stay home and bond with her baby…employers [need] to provide at least one week of paid sick leave so that women can stay home to take care of a sick child.”

7. Expanded WIC (nutrition assistance) program for pregnant mothers and infants:
“…helped lead the effort in the Senate against Republican attempts to cut the WIC program, and…substantially increase funding for this program, so every low-income mother and her children receive the nutrition they need.”

8. Healthcare as a right:
“…fight for a Medicare…single-payer healthcare system…a right for all Americans…Women have much higher healthcare expenses than men and pay a greater portion of their healthcare costs out of their own pockets. Women make up two-thirds of the low-wage workforce and only about 23 percent of low-wage jobs provide health insurance.”

9. Expand Social Security:
“…expand Social Security benefits by an average of $65 a month; increase cost-of-living-adjustments to keep up with rising medical and prescription drug costs; and expand the minimum Social Security benefit to lift seniors out of poverty…More than twice as many elderly women lived in poverty than men in 2013.”

Thanks, Bernie, for being our “honorary woman.”

Featured Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr, Creative Commons

H/T: NBC Town Hall TranscriptSanders Website