The phenomenon of the “Bernie Bro” — a label used to describe male fans of Bernie Sanders who attack female supporters of Hillary Clinton with crass and sexist comments online — recalls an earlier Democratic primary skirmish, one that also involved women who supported the frontrunner Clinton coming under fire from the followers of a surprisingly successful upstart.
According to Brendan James, writing in the International Business Times Tuesday, the “Obama Boys” of 2008 were an early glimmer of the ugly online battle playing itself out among Democratic voters today.
James observes that “social media was nowhere near as mainstream in 2008, so the battle of the Obama Boys drew a much smaller crowd back then,” but the contours are familiar.
He points to a 2008 Salon piece by Rebecca Traister, which “described women who, while sympathetic to Obama if not outright supportive, felt alienated by latent and sometimes not-so-latent sexism from male supporters.”
The visibility of the “Bernie Bro” has grown such that Sanders himself had to come out and disavow them with his characteristic frankness: “It’s disgusting. We don’t want that crap,” he said, something Obama never had to do.
But when it comes to alienating women who support the rival candidate, Sanders’s supporters hardly have a monopoly on that.
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