You cannot claim to be an activist for human rights and then call a female presidential nominee and her supporters — many of whom are women — whores. Too bad oncologist and Bernie supporter Dr. Paul Song didn’t get the memo to this effect.
Yesterday, Dr. Song resigned from his leadership position at the progressive advocacy organization, The Courage Campaign, after the uproar he caused with this comment at a Bernie Sanders rally in New York City on Thursday.
“Now, Secretary Clinton has said that Medicare-for-all will never happen…. Medicare-for-all will never happen if we continue to elect corporate, Democratic whores who are beholden to Big Pharma and the private insurance industry instead of us.”
How could Dr. Song refer to a female candidate by the gender-biased slur “whore”?
Traditionally, prostitution has been the trade-of-last-resort for women who have no other means of earning money, with “whoring” deemed a disastrous career choice that has always carried the taint of religious shame and social condemnation. Many of the voters who support both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton either are women who are struggling to survive in this economy of gender inequality or they are the daughters and sons of women who struggled to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table, and the bill collectors at arms’ length. A progressive activist such as Dr. Song should know this.
But why “whore”? The word “whore” is not hiding amongst the leaves of an ancient dictionary as an antiquated synonym for prostitute. The word “whore” is alive and well. “Whore” is used interchangeably with “hooker” and “slut” to denote a woman who will do anything for money or favors, especially sex acts. While there are certainly male prostitutes out there, historically, the word “whore” has mostly been used to refer to women. And the women in the Democratic Party were not amused.
Dr. Song issued an apology, saying he was not referring to Hillary Clinton, but when there’s only one female candidate and a gender-biased insult that demeans women is used, it’s hard to see how Dr. Song didn’t intend to mock Hillary.
Politics is not for the weak of heart. (Ask me how I know.) Nor is any political event sequestered from the fiery burn of immediate judgment on social media.
Dr. Song, I encourage you to explore the misogyny that exists within our language. The casual sexism that caught you off guard is prevalent.