Opinion seems strongly divided over this exchange. Sanders’ irritated ‘Excuse me I’m talking’ was denounced as sexist by many viewers. Interrupting, or silencing, women can certainly be seen a sexist trope. However in this case it was Clinton who was doing the interrupting – Sanders had paused slightly but was clearly in the middle of a sentence. The writer of this Vox piece observes:
He came off as a man shouting down a woman.
But what if his opponent had been a man? Would Sanders have responded differently? When David Cameron told Angela Eagle to ‘Calm down dear‘, it was easy to argue that this was a sexist jibe. He almost certainly would not have addressed a man in such a way, and the effect was patronising. In other clips from the CNN debate Sanders spoke passionately and without much smiling or smoothness. I suspect he would have addressed a male rival in the same impatient way. Perhaps it could be argued that the way this exchange is being described is more ‘gendered’ than the exchange itself. I don’t suppose he would have been accused of ‘shushing’ another man.
Gene adds: Sanders said some foolish things during the debate (“When you are white, you don’t know what it’s like to be living in a ghetto, you don’t know what it’s like to be poor.” Really? “We are, if elected president, going to invest a lot of money into mental health. And when you watch these Republican debates, you know why we need to invest in that.” A rather flip response to a serious problem.) But he did have a good, heartfelt moment about his Jewishness: