A short essay written in 1972 is coming back to haunt Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. The piece, entitled Man-and-Woman" makes graphic and uncomfortable statements regarding male and female rape fantasies.

"A woman enjoys intercourse with her man — as she fantasizes about being raped by 3 men simultaneously," a 30-year-old Sanders wrote. According to ABC News, the essay was written in "a stream-of-consciousness style with incomplete sentences and partial dialogue".

The Sanders campaign is, as expected, attempting to distance itself from the essay published for the alternative newspaper Vermont Freeman. It called the essay "a dumb attempt at dark satire ... that in no way reflects his views on women."

Michael Briggs, a campaign spokesman, said it was "intended to attack gender stereotypes back in the 1970s, though it is as stupid today as it was back then".

"When Bernie got into this race he understood there would be attempts to distract voters from the real issues. He is determined to run a campaign that takes on big issues facing the American people and not a campaign of salacious gossip or anything like that," he added.

Saunders's first foray was Sex and the Single Girl-Part Two

The piece was not Sanders's first foray into writing about female sexuality. According to MotherJones, 21-year-old Sanders wrote a sexual freedom manifesto against the University of Chicago, where he was a student.

In the 2,000-word piece, entitled Sex and the Single Girl—Part Two, Sanders criticised the university's strict student housing guidelines.

He wrote: "In my opinion, the administrators of this university are as qualified to legislate on sex as they are to mend broken bones...If they dislike sex, or if they think that it is 'dirty,' or 'evil,' or 'sinful' that is their misfortune. It is incredible, however, that they should be allowed to pass their attitudes, or neuroses, on to the student body."

MotherJones reported the piece garnered national attention.

Sanders, who was the second Democrat to enter the 2016 race, trails behind fellow Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The latest Quinnipiac University poll revealed Sander earned 15% support to Clinton's 57%.