That cartoon

Yesterday NZ celebrated 120 years of Women’s Suffrage. But not without controversy.

Bryce Edwards tweeted the cartoon below, which appeared in the Timaru Herald:

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Like many, I was appalled at the inclusion of this particular cartoon on a day celebrating women winning a right that had been preserved for men only.

I interpreted the cartoon as intentionally objectifying Jacinda Ardern in an attempt to denigrate the role of women in politics in general, given the context of the particular day.

Perhaps, I should have taken my own advice from my previous post on ‘Too PC or not PC’.  My point is, there is actually another possible interpretation.

Cameron Slater suggests that  ‘…Evans has encapsulated Labour’s own misogynist behaviour in trotting our Jacinda as a piece of arm or eye candy…’

I can appreciate this suggestion because despite Cunliffe’s own endorsement of increasing females in caucus and the level of female support he enjoyed during his campaign for leadership,  the cartoon could be interpreted as alluding to the hypocrisy in Cunliffe not nominating a female as the Deputy Leader when the opportunity presented itself.

Should the cartoonist have depicted Ardern as a bikini clad Ring Girl? Probably not. I personally think it was inappropriate, but I wondered if he could have conveyed his message with the same impact. What I believe went wrong, was that  if the intention was to encapsulate Labour’s own misogyny, in using misogynistic imagery he crossed an ethical boundary and made himself susceptible to the criticism that prevailed.

Note, I question the sincerity of the suggestion given the context of the day and that while he might have been highlighting his view of Labour’s own misogyny, there is no indication (that I am aware of) that he doesn’t subscribe to the perceived message of his joke – i.e. that women have no legitimate role in politics.

EDIT (in light of Cameron Slater’s comment below, I hadn’t made it clear that I was referring to Evans in the paragraph above, and for that I apologise for the misleading statement I made)

Note: I question whether it was Malcolm Evans’ intention to simply highlight his view of Labour’s own misogyny, as there is no indication (that I am aware of) that Evans doesn’t subscribe to the perceived message of his joke, i.e. that women have no legitimate role in politics. Although, I would happily eat my words if there is evidence to the contrary. 

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