The video starts with individual images of women and men, each complaining that America lacks government-required, paid parental leave. Then each person starts asking the question, “Who do I have to blow to get paid leave?” They then start naming individual prominent Republican male politicians, promising that they will do it if they have to. They’re laughing, making cracks about how long it would take, before returning to make a more standard appeal that viewers take up their cause, so they don’t have to go that route.
The video’s creators must think that the dirty language and sex talk will connect with a younger crowd that’s not interested in tedious policy debates. Yet presumably these good feminist activists would also have considered what kind of message they are sending by talking so casually about the trading of sexual favors for political reward. Do they really think young women should be considering how to use oral sex to advance their interests? Would they think it’s funny if men started making such jokes about how women can get what they want in politics or the work place by serving men along the way?
In fact, one could easily imagine that if a young man accidently watched this video in his office during his lunch hour and a female colleague walked in, he’d be vulnerable to a sexual harassment charge. Undoubtedly, the leaders at Emily’s List would rush to her side and agree that he was creating a hostile work environment by watching such filth that demeaned women as sexual objects.
A thoughtful women’s studies seminar might consider how such a video further ingrains the idea that all powerful politicians are men, overlooking Republican Senators Kelly Ayotte, Shelley Moore Capito, Susan Collins, Joni Ernst, Deb Fischer, and Lisa Murkowski, and House Leaders such as Rep. Marsha Blackburn. The feminist professor would have to start with a trigger warning, of course, cautioning that the video might stir up feelings of oppression and inadequacy with its implication that American women can hope for nothing more than to be sexual servants for men in power.
I’m sure the reps for American Women will object to this criticism, saying we should lighten up, that the oral sex line was just a joke. Yet their hypocrisy and expectation of enjoying a double standard is no laughing matter. Trying to get people’s attention is understandable, but sinking to such depths is not. Let’s hope this video represents rock bottom for political marketing, and its creators eventually emerge from this election season wondering why they sunk so low.
Labels: sexism, sexual politics