It's 2018. You might think we’ve moved beyond belittling women in politics for their looks. Looking at social media posts by at least a couple of Democratic strategists, you would be wrong.
Mary Treder Lang is the Republican nominee for Michigan's Secretary of State. Lang will face Democrat Jocelyn Benson in the November elections.
Instead of focusing on the differences between the candidates, her critics are lampooning a photo of her on social media.
On Twitter, political consultant Joe DiSano compared Lang’s look to that of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” character Krazee-Eyez Killa, an over-the-top aspiring rapper who purposefully warps his eyes for emphasis.
DiSano captioned the side-by-side photos:
@JoeDiSano: Crazy Eyes and Krazy Eyes Killah. Neither should be #misos #marytrederlang #migov #migop
There was nothing substantive in his criticism. It was purely a cruel personal attack.
Another political strategist on the left, TJ Bucholz, posted to Facebook the same photo to ridicule Lang. The accompanying comment read:
“Ok, maybe it’s just me, but I would read the shit out of a book entitled The Oral History Of This Mary Treder Lang Photo. So many questions: Who else was there? What photographer took the shot? What was in the background to create this expression? What comment make this look happen? How did someone sign off on it and allow it to appear on Secretary of State candidate web sites? Fascinating stuff.”
Some were quick to jump on the joke and run with it, including one person who replied:
“Easy they told her if she opens her eyes wide the wrinkles don’t show.”
Others (men and women) pushed back on the criticism replying:
“Come on, let's not be shallow. Do better than making fun of a lady's appearance.”
“Well. TJ. That’s a low blow. She’s my neighbor and my friend. She’s quite a good human. I disagree with some of her political positions. But you are way better than to berate her based on a less than ideal photo.”
This is in Michigan politics, but female candidates on both the left and right are facing sexist attacks everywhere.
Rachel Hundley, a California was threatened with photos of her in her underwear going public if she didn’t drop out of her race. Cori Bush, a Missouri Democratic candidate, was told she could never make it to Congress because her thighs were too big.
In this campaign season, there will undoubtedly be people who demean the looks of female candidates. It’s a tactic to undermine their candidacy and silence their voice.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with challenging a woman on her policy positions and public statements. However, personal attacks about hair, skin, age, beauty, etc. are signs of desperation.
DiSano and Bucholz took cheap shots and deserve to be called out.
The only way to stop these attacks, encourage thoughtful debate and ensure that women and men are treated respectfully, is to stand up to this behavior whenever it occurs.
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