Bernie Sanders & the Divine Feminine: Why so Many Feminists are Feeling the Bern.

Via Camille Williams
on Mar 19, 2016
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Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Women who support Bernie Sanders have been called to reconcile this choice with their feminist beliefs and credentials, to ourselves or others or both.

Last month, after some unfortunate remarks about female Bernie Sanders supporters by Madeline Albright and Gloria Steinem, the discussion ramped up. When having a woman president is within reach at long last, could women who are supporting the old white guy possibly be real feminists?

We heard two conflicting messages from those who support Hillary—of course they weren’t voting for her just because she’s a woman (what an insulting suggestion!), but also, how could we who feel the Bern not be supporting the woman?

I found myself asking repeatedly: “Well, which is it? Are you saying that any self-respecting feminist must back the female candidate, regardless of other factors, or not?”

After the Albright and Steinem clusterf*ck, I took the opportunity to re-examine whether my choice of candidates is aligned with my feminist principles…

At the beginning of this campaign, I was conflicted. I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2008. I liked Obama, but I felt that all else being equal, I wanted the woman. This time around, I don’t feel all else is equal—I strongly believe Bernie Sanders is the president we need.

Still, a part of me felt sad that I wouldn’t be voting for Hillary in this primary. That inner conflict is quickly evaporating as I learn more about the histories of each candidate, observe how each is conducting themselves during the campaign, and consider how their proposed policies are likely to impact women’s lives.

I determined there is no conflict between my staunch feminist beliefs and my support for Bernie because of: a) his stellar record on issues affecting women and families, and b) my belief that his proposed policies will do more to better the lives of women and other oppressed groups than his opponent’s.

That was enough for me, and yet—I knew there was even more to it if I could just put a finger on it.

Fast forward to March 8th, International Women’s Day. I looked for an article to post on my Facebook page to celebrate the day. I wanted to shout out to my sister women and take it beyond gender by celebrating both women and men who honor the Sacred Feminine in all of us. While I was looking through articles, for that half hour at least, I wasn’t thinking about politics.

Then I found something that brought it all home. In this article about the Sacred Feminine, the author talks about how this manifests in different realms. Here’s what she says about the political realm:

“In the political dimension, [the Sacred Feminine] means using the authority of power to serve the greater good, to protect and serve life, not for domination, greed and self-interest. It means to protect the common wealth of planetary resources–such as water, food, air, soil, energy—and share for the greatest good of all, rather than hoarding, exploiting and commoditizing them.”

I read that and immediately thought: “That’s Bernie Sanders.”

Think about each candidate’s record and positions, particularly on correct placement of power and political influence (moneyed interests versus the people), the death penalty, foreign policy and protecting the environment. Let’s say you did a blind study with people who had no prior familiarity with either candidate and didn’t know their genders.

Imagine you presented them with detailed information on their records and everything they have said about these issues, then asked them to choose which candidate was better aligned with the above description of the Divine Feminine in the political realm. Which do you think they would choose?

So, there it is—the feminist in me supports Bernie, because of his record and proposed policies on issues affecting women and families, and because of my beliefs about the kind of leadership that will improve women’s lives the most.

And on spiritual level, I now realize, my support for him is fully aligned with my feminist principles because his politics completely embody the political aspects of the Divine Feminine.

No wonder so many feminists are feeling the Bern!

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Relephant:

“I Don’t Vote with my Vagina”—Susan Sarandon Feels the Bern.

I Am a Female Democrat & I Do Not Support Hillary Clinton.

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Author: Camille Williams 

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Flickr/Gage Skidmore


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About Camille Williams

Camille Williams is a mother, midwife and writer in Providence, RI.  In her work as a midwife, she is a passionate advocate for women’s autonomy and the sacred nature of birth. At home, she home-schools her two boys and learns at least as much from that as they do. She blogs about parenting, life in a bicultural family, midwifery and women’s health, spirituality, politics and more at Wake Up, Mama! Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Comments

26 Responses to “Bernie Sanders & the Divine Feminine: Why so Many Feminists are Feeling the Bern.”

  1. moda says:

    Thank you! This is definitely share-worthy, and I will be sharing it with my friends and on my facebook pages. Keep up the good work! #FeelTheBern!

  2. angeliname55 says:

    LOVE THIS thank you thank you thank you shared shared and shared. #OfThePeople #StillSanders #FeelTheBern

  3. Carly says:

    Wonderful points! This pretty much gets rid of the last bit of guilt I have for not supporting Hillary.

    • Camille Williams says:

      That's what happened for me when I had that aha moment–last shred of guilt put to rest–that's why I had to write about it!

  4. Camille Williams says:

    Thank you so much, Moda!

  5. Ellen says:

    I wrote a longer comment but got an error when I tried to post it so it didn't save. Bottom line, you captured my inner journey on this issue perfectly and I couldn't agree with you more. A vote for Bernie is an act of feminism in it's truest state. Hilary may be a woman, but she does not represent the divine feminist. She plays into the corruption and greed that is our current political system. That's not the kind of leader I want to align with. It's time for a change. I vote for the best candidate for the job, always, regardless of surface characterisitcs. #feelthebern

  6. olson says:

    Bernie has always been Fighting for Women’s Rights http://berniesanders.com/issues/fighting-for-womens-rights/
    Bernie has consistently voted ProChoice and for the availability of contraception. He has long fought to protect women from domestic violence and sexual abuse, and promotes equal pay in the workforce. His main stances on women’s rights are outlined here: http://feelthebern.org/bernie-sanders-on-womens-rights/

    6 Things Every Feminist Should Know About Bernie Sanders’ Campaign http://www.bustle.com/articles/126200-6-things-every-feminist-should-know-about-bernie-sanders-campaign
    5 Powerful Quotes That Prove Bernie Sanders Is a Damn Good Feminist http://mic.com/articles/119074/5-times-bernie-sanders-spoke-the-feminist-truth
    Why Bernie Sanders Is Best on Women’s Issues http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/why_bernie_sanders_is_best_on_womens_issues_20150905
    7 Fantastic Times Bernie Sanders Stood Up For Women & Their Rights http://www.bustle.com/articles/121154-7-fantastic-times-bernie-sanders-stood-up-for-women-their-rights

    Bernie Sanders has a far better record of fighting for women’s rights than Hillary Clinton http://observer.com/2015/11/why-bernie-sanders-cares-more-about-womens-issues-than-hillary-clinton/
    Hillary Clinton Is Smearing Bernie Sanders as a Sexist. It’s ridiculous. Bernie’s record as a feminist is as good as Clintons http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/10/hillary_clinton_is_smearing_bernie_sanders_as_a_sexist_it_s_an_insult_to.html
    Meet the Women Who Say There’s a Better Feminist in the Race Than Hillary Clinton: Bernie Sanders http://time.com/4107286/hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-women-new-hampshire-2016/

  7. Jennifer kawatu says:

    I agree with all of this, but after feeling the Bern – I now only feel desperate to stop Trump. Since Hillary is clearly more electable in the general election – my focus has turned to the long game. Two words: Supreme Court. With that, I think it may be time to join forces.

    • Camille Williams says:

      Jennifer, I hear you loud and clear about not letting Trump in, and that's why I am not in the "Bernie or bust" camp–I will vote for Hillary (or, really, against Trump) if she is the nominee. However, I strongly disagree with you on who has the better chance of beating him. I know polls aren't perfect, but they have been very consistent in showing Bernie beating Trump by larger margins than Hillary in the general election. The other important factor is how the makeup of Congress will shake out over the course of the next few elections. Bernie is the one with the momentum of a highly motivated, politically engaged base of millenials (along with not-trivial numbers of us older folks!). That's what is going to move Congress in a more progressive direction faster. Which of course also has major implications for getting good Supreme Court candidates confirmed.

  8. CharC101 says:

    Great & Timely article Camille. I've already shared on FB. I REALLY want a woman president, but Hillary isn't that woman. She's same old politics in a skirt. Bernie, I feel is more supportive & integral in his comments & plans for women. I really like what Marianne Williamson has to say on this subject as well. Thanks for the article.

    • Camille Williams says:

      YES, I love Marianne Williamson–I have forever for her writings, and I love her current focus on both spirituality and politics–two of my favorite topics. (I actually donated to her campaign when she ran for Congress even thought I'm not in California).

  9. Armen says:

    Wonderful post, Camille, thank you.

    I am a little surprised that you characterize Albright's and Steinem's remarks as "unfortunate," their behavior a "clusterf*ck." Their comments seem par for the course for two figures who have spent a lifetime politicizing their causes. I don't recall the schism between feminist ideals, as you and Ms. Hanchin so eloquently express them, and feminism the political movement, to have ever been as stark as it is today. The latter has, for a while now, exhibited the uglier qualities of propagandist movements, and among these are what George Orwell described as Groupthink and Newspeak. The groupthink today is everywhere, used bluntly, as a cudgel. To publicly shame Shailene Woodley for being uncomfortable with the feminist label, or to pedantically diss Humanism (Humanism!!) as Megan Garber recently did in The Atlantic — are the same manifestations of groupthink that Albright and Steinem espouse with a natural ease.

    It is sad and difficult to see the ideals for which we have fought so hard to be warped by the political element, and to be tainted by association with propaganda. It is no surprise that young people shun the feminist label: they will not be fooled by the dogma, they see through the latent misandry, and they demand, as we did, to think for themselves.

    • Camille Williams says:

      Thanks for you comments, Armen. You've given me a lot of food for thought here–I will look for that Atlantic article. I characterized Albright and Steinem's remarks that way because a bit of an internet outcry ensued–they managed to alienate and offend the very women they presumably wish would come over to their side. Steinem ended up apologizing for her remarks, although it was kind of a fauxpology (it included language about being "misinterpreted" when her words were pretty clear).

  10. Deb says:

    I too supported Hilary in the primary against Obama. For me Hilary was the right candidate for that election. In this one I believe Bernie is the right person for this time period. That said, I do not see the Secretary as a "bad" candidate, though I think she's terrible at running for office. In the end I will easily cast my vote for either one for president.

    • Camille Williams says:

      Thanks for your comment, Deb. I agree with Robert Reich on this–Hillary is a good candidate for the maintenance of the political system we have now (and I will vote for her if that's my only viable option other than Trump). Bernie is the best candidate for the political system we need to move toward. We have an amazing and realistic opportunity to do so and we have to seize it. How knows when it will come again?

  11. Jason says:

    Thank you for that inspiring read. The “Bernie Bros” narrative has been so frustrating, especially when so many of us originally wanted Elizabeth Warren to enter and are planning to support Jill Stein if the unthinkable happens… Bernie loses. But really it has been frustrating because, to me, feminism has always been about equality for all people, not just women, and no one seemed to personify that more than Bernie Sanders. I really hope that the message that you, and many others, are sending makes it through the din of the main stream media

    • Camille Williams says:

      Thank you, Jason. I personally will reluctantly vote for Hillary if she is the nominee–or really against Trump, in order to keep him out. But I understand other Bernie supporters' unwillingness to do so. Not only will Hillary fail to secure the votes of many of Bernie's supporters, moderate (read: sane) Republicans are not likely to vote for her, either. Many of them will vote for Bernie.

  12. Jason says:

    Thank you for that inspiring read. The "Bernie Bros" narrative has been so frustrating, especially when so many of us originally wanted Elizabeth Warren to enter and are planning to support Jill Stein if the unthinkable happens… Bernie loses. But really it has been frustrating because, to me, feminism has always been about equality for all people, not just women, and no one seemed to personify that more than Bernie Sanders. I really hope that the message that you, and many others, are sending makes it through the din of the main stream media

  13. Natalia says:

    Thanks for an interesting article. Im from the UK, where we already had a couple of decades with a female Prime Minister, who was about as empathic as Heinrich Himmler. Thatcher was for gender equality (or indeed any equality) what Hitler was for race relations. In my view, Sanders beautiful truthful open heart trumps Hilarys vagina every time. Vote with your hearts folks…everything else is tactical…and tactical is the problem with politics. Lets be the change…

    • Camille Williams says:

      Thanks for that perspective, Natalia. I don't know much about what kind of leader Thatcher was. I am putting that on my long list of things to learn more about!

  14. Bebek says:

    Bernie Sanders voted no on gun control one month after Sandy Hook. He has helped the NRA and gun manufacturers sell millions of dangerous weapons and oppose sensible laws. He has opposed the Democrats’ efforts to enact gun control legislation for 25 years and caused a huge increase in shooting deaths and maimings. The USA is eleven times more dangerous for women than any other developed nation thanks to Bernie Sanders and the NRA bitches.

  15. I liked this, actually, until attributes that are sacred to all humankind were tagged The Sacred Feminine. If anything, Bernie shows that using the authority of power to serve the greater good, to protect and serve life, not for domination, greed and self-interest; to protect the common wealth of planetary resources–such as water, food, air, soil, energy—and to share for the greatest good of all, rather than hoarding, exploiting and commoditizing them is a sacred responsibility of all leaders regardless of gender. And Hillary is showing that women hold no monopoly on what is divine about the human experience any more than men do. The Sacred is The Sacred. It cannot be contained within a sex or gender. We need Grandfathers like Bernie, and he’s not in any way reduced or compromised because of his masculinity. We don’t have to be misandrists like Hillary in order to be feminists. The world has a chance to heal when people are able to shine as who they are without having to pigeonhole themselves or feel themselves lacking because they champion a group without being a “member” of that group. His creed is compassion. That breaks through everything.

    • Camille Williams says:

      I might be misunderstanding you but I think I hear you saying that these attributes shouldn't be understood as exclusive to the female gender. I completely agree. As I understand the linked article as well as other sources on the Divine or Sacred Feminine is that while it is not completely unrelated to gender, it goes beyond gender, and Sacred Feminine as well as the Sacred Masculine attributes exist in all of us in varying degrees, regardless of gender.

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