Killer Mike has been one of Bernie Sanders’s most vocal supporters, but his latest rally for the Democratic candidate has landed him in hot water.
The rapper spoke at a Sanders campaign event in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia on Tuesday (February 16). During his speech, he quoted a recent conversation he had with anti-racist activist and feminist Jane Elliott.
"I talked to Jane Elliott a few weeks ago, and Jane said, 'Michael, a uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president of the United States,’” Mike said. “You have to have policy that is reflective of social justice."
He quickly came under fire on Twitter as multiple supporters of Hillary Clinton called his remarks “sexist.”
Mike dismissed the accusations of sexism on Twitter, saying simply that he’s not a fan of Clinton as a candidate. But his language, even in quotation marks, strikes a troubling resemblance to the sexism that has hovered around Clinton since she set off on her campaign trail.
The idea of “voting with your vagina” -- or uterus, or whatever body part conveniently signifies womanhood in a cis-normative political landscape -- delegitimizes the politics of everyone who aligns with Clinton, no matter their gender. It’s a gender-essentialist cliché that reduces a powerful political figure to the sum of her body parts, and it suggests that people with uteruses aren’t capable of making choices beyond picking out their closest anatomical match in a political race.
"The last time I checked, my uterus was not a sentient being,” wrote Jessica Grose in a recent essay for Lenny. “Here's what the 'voting with your genitals' accusation is really telling other women: you're too hysterical to use your pretty head."
Uteruses are political to the extent that their owners still need to fight for the right to control them, but that’s just about the only reason they should ever come up in a political context. There are plenty of critiques to be made of Clinton that don’t rely on the particulars of her body. Though Killer Mike was quoting a known feminist, the words he shared with Sanders supporters to cheers and applause can only serve to deepen the sexism that has plagued the presidential race. There’s no purpose to that quote other than to paint Sanders supporters as cerebral and enlightened, while Clinton supporters by contrast come off like they're subject to the whims of their anatomy.
Killer Mike has used his celebrity to draw attention to some of the most urgent issues facing the U.S. today, like police brutality and Black Lives Matter. But his latest appearance in the political sphere only solidifies the idea that the Sanders campaign is a boys’ club -- a place where women’s opinions and needs come in second.