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republican party badges degrade hilary clinton

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Pictured above are badges which were on display at the California Republican Convention on the weekend. Badges which were described by The San Francisco Chronicle writer Carla Marinucci as being ‘very popular.’ Just in case you can’t quite make out that writing (or if you can’t quite believe your eyes and need it to be clarified) they read: ‘KFC Hillary Special – 2 fat thighs, 2 small breasts…left wing’.

The Republican Party has been reported as rapidly losing the female vote, with 33 percent of women who voted in a poll sponsored by National Journal stating that the party had moved further away from representing their views since the 2012 election. The party’s March report laid out planned ‘solutions’ for their ‘women problem’, including urging more Republican women to run for office, talking about ‘people and families’ rather than statistics, and using Women’s Month to ‘remind voters of the Republican’s Party historical role in advancing the women’s rights movement.’

Something tells me that this latest move isn’t going to do them any favours in their attempt to secure the important female vote.

This PR problem facing the GOP is similar to the one that the Liberal Party of Australia faced leading into the election, and is continuing to face now. Another striking similarity between the two parties is their cringe-worthy and downright shocking use of sexist language to garner attention for their party, by demeaning the female faces of their opposition. No doubt that the ‘KFC Hillary Special’ reminded just about everybody else of the infamous ‘Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail’ from ‘Menu-gate’,  from a Liberal Party fundraiser in June this year. This menu referred to our then Prime Minister as meat – ‘small breasts, huge thighs and a big red box.’

It’s an uncomfortably familiar situation. Generally speaking, we as a country look to the United States sometimes too rigorously as the leading example on the world stage in terms of its democracy, policy and even its popular culture. In this case (arguably in many other cases as well, given so many recent events) they have copied our degradation of women, and it’s certainly something about which we should not be proud; nor something we should continue to endorse as a global society as acceptable.

What both of these incidents show is that sexism and misogyny are ongoing, worldwide issues, which manifest in these demeaning and derogatory forms.

This repeated incident is disturbing, but it also has its roots in a much older, disturbing patriarchal tradition of aligning women’s bodies with meat. This is immediately evocative of a famous 1978 cover of controversial publication Hustler, showing a woman’s legs coming out of a meat grinder, with a quotation from the magazine’s publisher Larry Flynt stating ‘We will no longer hang women up like pieces of meat.’ If I may repeat myself, this cover is from 1978. Thirty-five years later, and we have two incidents aligning women politicians with meat. We really haven’t come nearly as far as we think we have.

This isn’t the first time that Hillary Clinton, arguably the most powerful woman in the world, has faced this kind of attention. During the previous presidential elections in 2007, Clinton was given an apron reading ‘the other white meat’.

It’s worrying that this is an ongoing trend. It’s even more worrying that very little appears to be being done to stop the trend from reoccurring. It’s even more worrying again when also taking into account other disturbing gaffes from other GOP candidates recently, including one claiming that women who are victims of ‘legitimate rape’ (how ever this differs from ‘illegitimate rape’…) cannot get pregnant; another labelled pregnancies resulting from rape ‘a gift from God’; and a vice-presidential candidate wanting to declare terminating pregnancy as a homicidal crime. Yikes.

I suppose that as a global society, we can only hope that these anti-Hillary badges have the opposite of their intended affect, and spark a genuine change in the way in which women are treated. Hopefully in another thirty-five years, that Hustler image becomes an iconic piece of history of how things have changed, rather than an ironic representation of the stagnancy of our culture.

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