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Thursday, February 18, 2016

So, Is a Thing

Posted By on Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 12:57 PM

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Gloria Steinem recently opined that young women favor Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in Democratic presidential primaries not because they identify more with his progressive politics or find his grouchy fire inspiring, but because, well, they're looking for dudes.

"When you're young, you're thinking, Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie," she said on the HBO show "Real Time with Bill Maher."

The feminist icon's remarks were widely criticized as being patronizing to young liberal women. But is it possible she was onto something?

Nope, not at all. Steinem's comments were ill-advised and insulting — not to mention heteronormative — by any measure. But a new dating website,, does suggest that maybe Bernie-boosters are indeed looking for love in addition to social justice, income equality and political revolution.    

The website launched earlier this week but crashed on Wednesday when its servers were overwhelmed by more than a million hits. (Insert your own viral "Feel the Bern" joke here.) Currently a landing page directs curious users to a Facebook group where supporters can mingle. The  conversation threads range from political discussions to musical tastes, body art, movies and dietary preferences. Curiously, Bernie seems to attract a disproportionally large number of single vegans. Oh, and there are selfies. Duckface selfies. Shirtless "Bernie Bro" bathroom mirror selfies. Pet selfies. So many selfies. So very many selfies.

In a phone call with Seven Days, press liaison Joshua Kaunert says the site's all-volunteer team is working to move the website to servers that can accommodate higher volume. They've begun a crowd-funding campaign to cover that cost. Kaunert says when it's relaunched, likely within the next few days, the site will be free and any leftover donations will be sent to Sanders' campaign.

Kaunert says the site will function similarly to other dating sites, with a search field, user profiles, chat forums, private messaging and the like.  

"It's nothing fancy," he says. "It's a niche site to allow Bernie supporters, people of the same political views, to find each other."

He adds that the site and Facebook group are especially popular with users in red states. While someone living in, say, Burlington, can meet like-minded liberals at any bar, coffee shop or natural foods store, being a progressive in a place such as South Carolina can be a lonelier experience.

"I think those people are being inundated with conservative views. They're feeling stifled. Maybe their friends are Trump supporters," he says. "So people from those states have been a strong demographic for us, more so than people from Vermont, because those people already have that network. They appreciate having a safe space to express themselves."

Few topics bring out the loons online like sex and politics. So combining them into a dating site has the makings of a troll orgy. As such, both the Facebook group and website are heavily moderated, not only for offensive sexual content but extreme right-wing political postings, too. 

"With the Facebook page, I wouldn't say it's exactly anti-Trump," says Kaunert. "But any kind of Bernie bashing or sexism is moderated very quickly. No unsolicited dick pics, that kind of stuff."

In other words, no pics of the Donald. (Rimshot!)

As for the longevity of the site, Kaunert believes it will have legs, regardless of how Bernie fares in upcoming primaries or, potentially, the November election.

"It's really more of a movement that has coalesced around Bernie," he says. "But these kinds of feelings, being angry at the government, millennial angst, they exist regardless of what happens with Bernie. The community that's being built around Bernie is going to last, no matter what happens in this election cycle." 

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About The Author

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles is Seven Days' assistant arts editor.

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