Bernie Sanders's Inauguration Coat Was Cute – But A Woman Could Never Show Up Like That

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Bernie Sanders

The memes of Bernie Sanders sitting at the inauguration yesterday have been taking the internet by storm, flooding Twitter and Instagram pages for the past twenty-four hours.

Of course, the pictures have provided people with something to laugh at, creating one of the first viral jokes of the new year; but I wonder, would those jokes still be as funny if the same situation had involved a woman?

This is nothing against Bernie Sanders. I find his decision to show up to such a political event that was being broadcasted to the entire country, in such a simplistic outfit, pretty much comical – and many people seem to agree. 

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But, it just makes me think of the double standard in society, and how if Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, or even Kamala Harris, had shown up to the inauguration in the same disheveled appearance, they would’ve been ridiculed on every media source known to man.

I imagine there would be comments like: “Who did she hire as her stylist?” 

“Why would her team let her out looking like that?”

“Does she know this is a formal event?”

“I can’t believe her husband let that happen.”

It’s almost as if a woman’s capacity to dress herself has to fall into the hands of an outside party. 

We see this happening frequently on red carpets. While men can show up to events in ripped jeans, and wrinkly shirts, women have to think about the backlash of even attempting to have a hair out of place, or a wrinkle not ironed.

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And it’s even worse for people of color.

If Bernie Sanders had been a Black man, I’m sure the comments would’ve been very different. If it had been a Black woman showing up to the Inauguration like that, she would’ve been practically crucified on social media.

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So, why does it have to be like this?

Why do women have to constantly think about their appearance? Why can’t we just go outside in sweatpants and not have to fear the looks of judgement?

Why can’t women show up to Inauguration Day in the same exact outfit that Bernie Sanders wore, and receive the same feedback of memes and laughter that he got?

This double standard that exists between the simple idea of attire between women and men is something that shouldn’t even exist in the first place.

It’s another form of the patriarchy, and I’m so tired of women having to edit their appearance for the sake of a man — whether it’s with the clothes we wear, or the way we are expected to sit in public with our legs crossed.

However, it’s totally fine for a man to spread his legs over the three seats surrounding him. The hypocrisy is palpable.

Women are taught to edit for male approval and to edit for societal approval.

We are taught to curate our behavior and personality around male desires, and to do it enthusiastically.

And these sanctions that we enforce onto young girls are not isolated incidents.

The practice of women editing themselves, fussing over our looks and outfit so that we aren’t forced to face any ridicule in public spaces is a direct contributor to all of the horrific gender-based violence that we constantly see in the news.

Women are only human — we aren’t these super-beings that should have to bear this weight of having to please practically everyone else, but be miserable ourselves.

Society has come a long way when it comes to certain gender-based actions, but somehow, this issue has been left untouched.

It’s time we change that.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Chicago. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.