Over the Line

nVyTbCaLester B. Pearson, former Canadian Prime Minister and winner of the 1957 Nobel Peace Prize, once said, “Politics is the skilled use of blunt objects.”

To be sure, politics is a rough and tumble business. And yet there are times when lines get crossed.

This is one of those times.

In the last number of years, women have made gains in the political world, a world historically dominated by male privilege. For instance, in the most recent election cycle, we had Michelle Bachman running on the Republican side. And, in the cycle before that, it was Hillary Clinton running for the Democrats and Sarah Palin for the Republicans. Despite what Tertullian might say, viable female candidates running on national tickets has been a welcome change.

But it hasn’t come easy.

Because unlike most male candidates (New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as one notable exception), female political candidates consistently have to weather commentary about more than their political views. Indeed, for women running in today’s political landscape, their dress, their body shape and their hairstyle are tragically fair game for everyone from political pundits to gossip columnists.

Now, as the electorate anticipates the 2016 presidential campaign, the speculation is heating up about about whether Hillary Clinton will make another run. Unfortunately, so too is the male privilege-driven hate machine.

The other day, I noticed this article about a button on offer at a recent Republican convention in Southern California. Here’s a picture tweeted by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci:

Screen Shot 2013-10-09 at 7.58.36 PM

Disgusting right? Yes.

The good news is that according to Marinucci, the GOP tracked down the vendor who was selling the button and removed it.

The bad news is that people think like this at all. That in 2013, women seeking office still have contend with this kind of blatantly offensive propaganda. That in today’s political landscape, the blunt objects include this brand of toxic personal attacks.

Politics is a rough and tumble business. But it shouldn’t be sexist as well.

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