Wesley Meredith Wins Most Sexist Political Ad of the Year

Via Feminist Law Professors

I’m sure there are some other close contenders. Leave your pick in comments, and stay tuned for Maya’s version later today with “Most Racist Political Ad of the Year.”

Transcript via Care2 after the jump

Wesley Meredith Attack Ad

Video: A middle-aged white man in a mustache and collared shirt faces the camera. He’s surrounded by several “average American” people, none of whom are looking at the camera. There’s text on the screen (mostly obscured on the youtube video) reading “Paid for by Wesley Meredith For NC Senate.”

[click of sound starting] Voiceover: “…for state senate and I paid for this ad.”

Video: Shot of the back of a brunette woman’s head and faint image of her reflection in a mirror.

Voiceover (in a woman’s voice): “Incumbent Senator Margaret Dickson.”

Video: Woman applying mascara.

Voiceover: “Who does she really care about? Is it you, or is it just a charade?”

Video: Close-up of woman opening a gold-colored tube of bright-red lipstick, then applying the lipstick and blotting her lips on a tissue. The camera then moves to a close-up of the woman adjusting a “Margaret Dickson NC Senate” button on the lapel of her dark suit worn over a red shirt. In the final shot, small text on screen reads “JRCE: HB2, 2/10/03”

Voiceover: “Not once, not twice, but three times, busted using public office to help companies she owned.”

Video: The screen splits into three columns, each with a different picture. In the farthest right, there’s a close-up of the woman adjusting a diamond ring on her left-hand ring finger. Text at the bottom of the picture, apparently citing a source, reads “NC Utilities Comm. Docket no. p-100.” The second is a close-up of her clasping an apparently gold and diamond bracelet around her wrist. Text at the bottom reads “12/20/2009 Charlotte Observer.” The third shot seems to be cut off at the right edge — what we see is the back part of an ear against dark hair and part of a hand making a “putting in an earring” motion. Text at the bottom reads “WTVD-TV 12/03/09.” The pictures are revealed from left to right as the voiceover names her alleged crimes.

Voiceover: “Special deals. Insider trading. No bid state contracts. All for her own gain.”

Video: Close-up of women’s hands removing a thick wad of cash from her purse and placing it on a table. The outside bill in the role is a $100 bill.

Voiceover: “What does Margaret Dickson really care about?”

Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/samll/ Sam Lindsay-Levine

    I feel like an idiot. Can you explain to me why this is the most sexist ad of the year? I would have thought you could do the exact same ad with a male target, having them adjust their expensive tie, their gold and diamond cufflinks, and picking up the keys to their expensive Porche – to me the ad is trying to paint the target as a plundering plutocrat and so focusing on signs of wealth and upper-class status.

    Is this some dog-whistle that is going past me?

    • http://feministing.com/members/miriam/ Miriam

      I think focusing on her putting on make-up and getting dressed in feminine trappings, while wondering what she is “really focused on” has too much of a sexist slant. It both implies she can’t tear herself away from focusing on her looks to focus on politics, and it implies she might be a flighty feminine figure, rather than a serious politician.

      The folks at Care2 (link in post) also think the ad is implying that she’s a sex worker.

      • http://feministing.com/members/samll/ Sam Lindsay-Levine

        That makes sense. Somehow that didn’t even occur to me, maybe because the narrator’s words pointed me off in another direction. Certainly the whole focus on lipstick just seemed oddly out of place to me.

        (also I accidentally clicked Report instead of Reply, sorry for wasting your time on that report!)

  • http://feministing.com/members/caveneil/ Neil

    This plays into the popular stereotype that women only care about money.

    see also – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwUO_NHAjQA

    The make up in the ad implies that she is fake, and possibly also a whore. However, if the accusations are credible, I don’t find the ad offensive. As the above poster points out, the opposition could and probably would have made a similar ad with manly trappings of wealth if she were a man who was on the take.

  • http://feministing.com/members/raynaroze/ Rayna

    This dosnt really seem all that sexist to me. All I see is a woman putting on makeup, a regular routine for most women every morning. Why don’t we make a commercial with Wesley Merideth using a gold razor to shave in the morning? I face more sexism than this on a regular basis. I actually found the comercial to be somewhat fair.

    So a woman putting on lipstick imply’s that she is a sex worker? If she has so much money why would she be a sex worker? I really do not find this comercial offensive. I have seen much worse on the local news, and the O’Reilly Factor.

  • http://feministing.com/members/azure156/ Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

    Yeah, I don’t quite get the sex worker implication. Is it because she’s applying makeup? Lots of women do that. Is it because she’s handling large sums of money? I took that to imply she was a corrupt or greedy politician; indeed I’d have to wonder more about people who see a woman with lots of money and immediately jump to the conclusion “sex worker”.

    • http://feministing.com/members/cupkate/ Kate

      I’d have to wonder more about people who see a woman with lots of money and immediately jump to the conclusion “sex worker”.

      This kind of reasoning parallels the kind of crap I hear around my more conservative family members. This commercial was not made in a vacuum – this imagery was not accidentally offensive and I am not a reverse-sexist for seeing it.

      • http://feministing.com/members/alexander/ Alexander

        First, no such thing as reverse-sexist. There is just sexist, doesn’t matter which gender you’re sexist towards.

        I have a hard time seeing the connection to sex worker here. Yes this video was not created in a vacuum, but sex-worker is far from the only (stereotypical/sexist) reason a woman could be holding a wad of cash.

  • http://feministing.com/members/visibility/ Visibility

    This ad has nothing to do with lipstick. The allegations are about how the woman candidate uses her political status for her own gain – ie, “whoring” herself out. The ad wants you to think this candidate = prostitute to special interests and her own interests. The roll of benjamins makes that very clear. All the makeup, etc is just a lead in.

    The ad wouldn’t work nearly as well if it showed a man putting on his cufflinks, etc, and then leaving money on the table – you wouldn’t think he’s a prostitute, you’d think he was the john, which wouldnt’ make sense with the same allegations.

    • http://feministing.com/members/mjameson/ Matthew T. Jameson

      “The allegations are about how the woman candidate uses her political status for her own gain – ie, “whoring” herself out. The ad wants you to think this candidate = prostitute to special interests and her own interests. The roll of benjamins makes that very clear.”

      So you’re inferring this all form the presence of money? Does that mean that any reference to money=whoring=sexist? Did it ever occur to you that politics and money are virtually the same thing?

      Also, did you notice that she is shown withdrawing the money from her own purse, using an engagement-ring-clad hand? Your interpretation is nonsensical and boils down to one equation:

      criticizing a woman=sexist.

      • http://feministing.com/members/meghan/ Seattle

        “Also, did you notice that she is shown withdrawing the money from her own purse, using an engagement-ring-clad hand? Your interpretation is nonsensical and boils down to one equation:

        criticizing a woman=sexist.”

        Really, Matthew?! I mean really. First of all, prostitutes probably carry their money in their own purse, right? And that “engagement-ring-clad hand” you speak of didn’t have the “engagement-ring” on it in the beginning. It shows her putting it on. Did you assume that most prostitutes leave their engagement ring on at work?

        Furthermore, your equation that “criticizing a woman=sexist” just shows that you are speaking from a white male-body privileged POV and it makes me wonder what you are doing on this site. A patriarchal world has made this ad sexist, not us.

        • http://feministing.com/members/mjameson/ Matthew T. Jameson

          Really, Seattle?!

          Look, you are criticizing my point of view here because of what you -assume- to be my race and body. If you want to have a conversation about whether or not this ad is sexist, by all means, offer up some evidence for or against. Instead, all you have is emphatic ideology. Look! A woman is portrayed with money! It came from a purse! Prostitutes carry money in purses! She put on a ring! Prostitutes put on rings after they’re done working!

          These are all true statements. Prostitutes also, you know, wear shoes. Some of them probably have dogs, and drive cars, and many speak English. However, none of these things mean that the ad is portraying a prostitute. If there were any features in the ad that actually suggest prostitution, I’m all ears, but up until now, all anyone has identified is the wad of money. The ad is alluding to political corruption (is anyone arguing that it’s sexist to suggest that women might be, you know, corrupt politicians?). Ergo, doesn’t a wad of money seem like an appropriate symbol of that?

          I object to the idea that female politicians need to be treated with kid gloves, compared to males. Male politicians accuse other males of corruption all the time, but that is not sexist. How is this ad, depicting a woman wearing lavish things and pulling out a wad of cash anything different?

          All you really have for an argument are emphatic restatements of your thesis, and attempts to discredit my perspective based on what you assume to be my race and body. Don’t get me wrong,; I think reasonable people can disagree on the interpretation of a stimulus, but if you’re going to call my incredulity sexist and question my worthiness to be here, you should have at least some kind of reasonable argument to back up your perspective. If you’re just going to take a lock-step, ideological perspective, I question what YOU’re doing in this otherwise thoughtful community that appreciates the presence of dissenting views, regardless of the -perceived- race and physical sex of the speaker.

          • http://feministing.com/members/182204031988o/ 182204031988

            A good response.

  • http://feministing.com/members/april/ April Streich

    Not really sexist. They’re not painting her as a gold-digger in the way that women are usually portrayed, but a gold-digger to support her business.

    Meh. There are more sexist ads out there than this one.

  • http://feministing.com/members/cupkate/ Kate

    I was only vaguely annoyed until that giant roll of one-hundred dollar bills came out. Of course the narration isn’t going to say, “And by the way, we’re implying that she’s a prostitute,” but that’s definitely the message I got.
    There’s not many professions where one might reasonably keep rolls of cash on hand, and I can’t think of any that are considered socially acceptable.

  • http://feministing.com/members/smiles/ Smiley

    Oh, how I agree with the above comments.

    Feminsiting is really becoming quite predictable in its approach: anything that attacks a woman of a leftish slant (or whom Feministing approves) is automatically sexist. Same for people who disapprove of Barack Obame: racists.

    Arguments supporting the rants would be most welcome.

    • http://feministing.com/members/meghan/ Seattle

      This is all true. Don’t you see? There is a reason that people who are criticize people on a leftish slant are sexist and racist…because they vote against women, brown people, anyone of color. It’s all part of the patriarchy. Some don’t vote that way, but do some reading and you will see who the people paying for the ads are voting against.

      • http://feministing.com/members/smiles/ Smiley


        But that is the point! The advert was deemed sexist – and yet there is nothing in the advert that makes it sexist.

        If Wesley Meredith is indeed sexist, then the advert must say so (and why), and give reasons. It does not, and therefore the advert cannot be deemed to be sexist.

  • http://feministing.com/members/182204031988o/ 182204031988

    Those who have concluded that this ad is sexist because it implies that Dickson is a whore are really stretching their analysis here. Dickson is a woman, therefore womanly things will be shown in order to portray her. If anything, the blurred shots of her face, the close-ups and the hand placing the wad of cash on the table at the end indicate that she’s mysterious, sinister and slippery and this is supported by the fact that the ad begins by stating that she has been found ‘not once, not twice, but three times’ doing things for her own benefit. She is therefore portrayed as an elusive business woman pampering herself at the expense of the public.
    The dominant colour is red, which is both dangerous and luxurious. The second strongest colour is gold – the jewellery she puts on and the way the ad is cut (i.e, the screen split in to three sections in sync with the voice-over’s allegations) shows enrichment; with each scandal she gets away with, she gets more money which equals more jewellery which indicates more overall wealth. It is patently obvious that the wad of cash at the end is a visual answer to the question posed by the voice-over: “what does Margaret Dickson care about?” I do not know who Margaret Dickson is, but the impression I get from this ad is unscrupulous, self-serving business woman and politician, not whore, and I suspect that’s what most people will get.

    Someone above pointed out that the ad was not made in a vacuum, therefore their claims about the whore / sex-worker implications remained intact. This is as good as stating that all ads which feature women can be seen as sexist because they were created by humanity which is generally sexist. You can make that claim, but it’s not a very good one because it shows your analysis is ideological rather than focused on dealing with the *actual content* of the ad.