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Why the Bernie vs. Hillary Meme is Problematic

By Cameron Walsh and Melanie Sawyer in Opinion & Politics


As a passionate and reasonably educated member of the 2016 electorate, I generally stay informed of the issues that influence the election. Although I have been a dedicated follower of Hillary since 2014, I respect my peers and family members who wholeheartedly support Bernie Sanders. I’m not here to change your mind on the big issues, but I am here to change your mind on a smaller one. You may have seen the “Bernie or Hillary” meme that has been circulating the Internet. It depicts what appears to be a compare/contrast of Sanders and Clinton for various “issues” varying from cereal and racism to string cheese and Harry Potter--essentially any arbitrary aspect of our culture that could possibly have a dichotomy. The meme shows each candidate’s attitude about the topic, but the statements are completely fabricated. Over and over, Clinton is portrayed as a blundering, misguided politician (strikingly similar to Donald Trump’s actual behavior). Sanders’ fake answers, on the other hand, are persistently “correct,” or at least better than Hillary’s.

Meme 1

Meme 1

One of the most infuriating of these is the “sexism” meme: Bernie Sanders eloquently states “Women deserve equal pay for equal work.” But Hillary says, “I’m a woman, so the fact that you’re making fun of me is sexist.” This is an age-old stereotype of the average feminist, paraded by self-loathing men’s rights advocates who can not possibly justify preventing equality between the sexes. These satirical criticisms are not only fatally reductionist, but an embarrassing reflection on those who circulate them. If none of Clinton’s policies are flawed enough for an actual, intelligent criticism, please refrain from perpetuating misogyny and diminishing Clinton’s accomplishments, enthusiasm, and political prowess. (Oh and while you’re at it, take a minute to see the policies she’s actually championing). Though I acknowledge that political satire can often be beneficial, or at the least rooted in truth, it’s important to realize that these memes aren’t a thoughtful criticism on the state of our political system, but rather an unfounded attempt to uproot all that Clinton has fought for, in gender equality and otherwise.
Meme 2

Meme 2

According to the Annenberg Public Policy center, in 2014, only 36% of Americans could name all three branches of government. We cannot risk misleading an already politically illiterate populace with memes like these, and set our nation back decades in our respect for and acknowledgement of powerful women. Clinton has dealt with an unprecedented amount of criticism for issues that should not even be issues: her husband’s affair (please explain to me how her husband’s poor decisions could possibly reflect badly on her?), her pantsuits (because clearly a woman who doesn’t wear skirts all the time is not fit to run our country), and especially remarks that her supporters only back her because of her gender. If you support Bernie Sanders because of specific goals and policies that he has championed, I respect your decision wholeheartedly. However, this election is far too significant to waste propagating sexist and demeaning attitudes about one of the greatest female role models of our generation.

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