Late Friday morning, Eastern Standard Time, the hashtag #HotBoysForBernie started to pop up on my Twitter timeline. After seeing #HotGirlsForBernie become a top trending topic one week prior, I was curious to see what the men had to offer as they attempted to draw support for their preferred Democratic primary candidate. And what, I wondered, does it truly mean to be a hot boy for Bernie?
I posed this question to former Jezebel Man Brendan O’Connor, who participated in the hashtag. He told me, “Everyone who supports Bernie is hot, regardless of their gender. And when Bernie Sanders is president, everyone will be hot, regardless of who they voted for, because that’s what democratic socialism means.”
Okay, bet. This mirrors what Hadiya Afzal, one of the women who started the #HotGirlsForBernie hashtag campaign that went viral last week, told Vox: “Anyone can be a ‘hot girl for Bernie’ if they’re just a girl for Bernie.”
But as I scrolled through the HotBoysForBernie hashtag, I found myself experiencing a wholly different set of reactions than I did to #HotGirlsForBernie. They are as follows:
Not every man who participated in #HotBoysForBernie is straight, but it’s safe to say that a lot of the men who did are. Which brings me to my first question: When did straight men learn to take selfies? This is a new development to me. Did they get some pointers from their #HotGirlsForBernie comrades? Because I have never seen so many selfies of straight men in one place since I last used a dating app, six years ago.
Even more alarming, it appears as though The Men are leveling up, learning their angles, and even understanding the importance of good lighting. What’s next? Taking half-decent nudes? I’m not ready.
Are they thirst traps for a cause that goes beyond mere vanity? Sure! But we’ve all participated in a hashtag that doubles as an excuse to show off some good photos of us. I welcome this flex. There is nothing shameful about the holy matrimony of civic duty and stunting, but let’s keep it real.
This is at least partially due to #HotBoysForBernie not having nearly the same virality as HotGirlsForBernie, but it’s the extent to which the women who participated in the hashtag were harassed—like, receiving vomit GIFs in the replies, getting called fat and ugly—compared to the men—who have received comparably few snide comments—that is absolutely galling. Unsurprising, of course, but I don’t know, it’s almost as if people hate women or something.
And speaking of that...
One of the nice things about #HotGirlsForBernie was the racial and ethnic diversity in the hashtag. There were black girls and white girls, Asian girls and Latinas. Another thing Afzal told Vox was that, “the success of the hashtag also serves to counter a super-frustrating ‘Bernie Bro’ narrative.” A hashtag that put faces to Sanders supporters, faces that were not just of the white, neckbeard variety.
#HotBoysForBernie lacks that flavor. It’s just a little under-seasoned! I found myself scrolling a little more than I liked to find the thirst traps of black and brown men. Of course, a hashtag that didn’t have nearly the level of virality as its female counterpart that encourages men to be vain for Twitter clout isn’t the best indicator of racial diversity in one’s supporters—and Sanders is a popular candidate for voters across racial lines—but still!
It’s true, and it’s fine.
I don’t know, I saw a guy in a canoe boat who was a real cutie. He’s voting for Bernie. That’s neat.