Campaign commercials are getting dirty down south. North Carolina politician Wesley Meredith is challenging State Senator Margaret Dickson for her seat and ran an ad depicting a cash-carrying woman making herself up with lipstick and mascara. You know, like whores do.As the actress applies mascara to her lashes in the mirror, the scary smear ad voice intones: “Incumbent Senator Margaret Dickson: who does she really care about? Is it you? Or is it just a charade?” Onscreen the woman swivels a tube of lipstick and swipes it across her lips. “Not once, not twice, but three times busted using her public office to help companies she owned,” the voice continues, as the screen splits in three to show a diamond ring on her finger, a jewel-covered bracelet, and a lock of hair being tucked behind her ears. “Special deals. Insider trading. No-bid contracts. All for her own gain,” the voice goes on. “What does Margaret Dickson really care about?” In the last shot of the ad, the actress takes a wadded-up ball of cash, wrapped in rubber bands, and sets it on the table.
The Dickson campaign blasted the ad for using the money, makeup and jewelry onscreen to depict the state senator as a whore. “To portray Senator Dickson … as a prostitute goes beyond gutter politics. It is wrong,” said supporter Nina Szlosberg-Landis.
I can understand conveying the concept of a “charade” in a commercial against your opponent. However, this commercial goes further than that by using an action so gender-specific as putting on makeup. There’s absolutely no reason to emphasize the opponent’s sex in an ad and it’s even more questionable when it’s the trappings of femininity being referenced. Not only can makeup and jewelry imply frivolousness, but here they’re implying falseness, as if any woman who decks herself out in bling and whore paint might be a bimbo unfit for office.
That’s flat-out sexism, Wesley Meredith. If this was supposed to be a commercial about political shenanigans, it should have just been that.