Bernie Sanders Talks 1972 'Rape Fantasy' Essay: 'I Learned My Lesson'

"I think I could make a good president, but I write fiction pretty poorly," the presidential candidate said during an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has come under fire for a recently surfaced 1972 essay in which he suggested that women fantasize about being gang-raped. But during an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers Monday, the comedian gave the Vermont senator a lead-in to laugh about his controversial essay on gender roles and sexuality.

After pointing out that Sanders had disavowed the piece as a “poorly written” Fifty Shades of Grey, Meyers asked, “Considering the success of the Fifty Shades of Grey books – do you regret that you did not follow that path more and not do this politics thing? You could be rolling in cash right now!”

Sanders, who is seeking the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, seemed to appreciate the comic relief.

“No, it was bad fiction. I learned my lesson. I think I could make a good president, but I write fiction pretty poorly,” he said to laughter and applause from the crowd.

The essay, titled “Man – and woman” and originally published in 1972 in the alternative newspaper the Vermont Freeman, was dug up last week by Mother Jones. It begins:

“A man goes home and masturbates his typical fantasy. A woman on her knees, a woman tied up, a woman abused. A woman enjoys intercourse with her man – as she fantasizes about being raped by 3 men simultaneously. The man and woman get dressed up on Sunday – and go to Church, or maybe to their ‘revolutionary’ political meeting.”

“Have you ever looked at the Stag, Man, Hero, Tough magazines on the shelf of your local bookstore? Do you know why the newspapers with the articles like ‘Girl 12 raped by 14 men’ sell so well? To what in us are they appealing?”

The Sanders campaign last week called the essay a “dumb attempt at dark satire intended to attack gender stereotypes in the 1970s, and it looks as stupid today as it was then,” according to the Washington Post.

Sanders also defended himself during an appearance Sunday on Meet the Press, saying, “That was 43 years ago. It was very poorly written. And if you read it, it was dealing with gender stereotypes. Why some men like to oppress women. Why other women like to be submissive. You know, something like Fifty Shades of Grey, very poorly written, 43 years ago.”

The essay isn’t the only embarrassment that’s come back to haunt Sanders since he announced his bid for president on April 30.

Meyers also brought up Sanders’ 1987 folk album, playing one track on which the then-mayor of Vermont can be heard singing tunelessly with his thick Brooklyn accent.

“Big mistake,” Sanders said of the album. “So now we have learned that I do bad fiction and bad music. But I do have some other attributes.”

Bottom line: Sanders probably shouldn’t quit his day job.

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