Are you ready for women's convention kick-off speaker...Bernie Sanders?!

Later this month, the organizers who brought us the Women’s March (in January) are holding the Women’s Convention in Detroit. Attending the weekend event will cost you just over $300, unless you’re a student. That gets you in to hear from a long list of progressive women including Sally Kohn, Rep. Maxine Waters, and Symone Sanders. But today the group announced the kick-off speaker for the event will be…Bernie Sanders?!

The Detroit Free Press spoke to one of the organizers who defended the choice:

He was the right choice to be a headliner for the first national Women’s Convention in 40 years, said Tamika Mallory, co-founder of Women’s March, because Sanders knows how to mobilize a new generation of activists.

“I think that right now, no one can deny that Bernie Sanders is probably one of the most powerful U.S. senators … on progressive issues, women’s issues, mobilizing millennials. He is really in line with the principles of the Women’s March,” Mallory told the Free Press in an exclusive interview Wednesday night.

But not everyone sees the brilliance of having a man kick-off an event devoted to women’s empowerment. In fact, lots of progressives who support the Women’s March are trashing the idea:

I’m just barely skimming the surface here. There are thousands of people complaining about this decision on Twitter. In fact, someone has already started a petition intended to pressure the organizers to change their mind:

We, the undersigned, urge the Women’s March to reconsider giving Sen. Bernie Sanders a headlining role at the Women’s Convention on October 27. The convention represents the first gathering of its kind for 40 years, putting it at the center of an intersectional feminist movement. For an event of this kind to center a white, male politician over emerging women leaders, particularly those of color, is very disappointing to us.

It goes on like that for several more paragraphs. In four hours, over 1,700 people have signed it.

The women behind this event are professional organizers who, supposedly, have their finger on the pulse of the nation, or at least a substantial part of it. To make Sanders a kickoff speaker suggests they didn’t spend even 5 minutes talking to anyone about what the response to that might be.

I don’t think there’s any way this stands. The backlash from would-be allies is strong and growing. I suspect Sanders will be asked to bow out. He’ll agree and some alternate speaker (Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Hillary?) will be announced. Everyone will gripe about whoever is chosen but most will agree it’s an improvement. The show will go on.

But the bottom line here is that two full weeks before the event, the organizers have already marred both it and their own reputations. The tone could change, but right now there are hundreds of women saying they are tuning out and unfollowing the Women’s March. They have really shot themselves in the foot with this. Let’s see how long it takes them to reverse course.