Woman Outraged by Lawmaker’s Sexist Memes Just Won His Political Seat in NJ
She said the lawmaker’s sexist Facebook posts motivated her to run for office.
Ten months after a county lawmaker in New Jersey took to Facebook to post sexist memes about the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., he lost his seat — to a woman motivated by his chauvinism.
Ashley Bennett, a 32-year-old psychiatric emergency room screener, defeated Atlantic County freeholder John Carman — the meme master — by more than four percentage points on Tuesday. Bennett, who had never before run for political office, said the Facebook posts motivated her to challenge Carman.
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"I was angry about [the meme], because elected officials shouldn't be on social media mocking and belittling people who are expressing their concerns about their community and the nation," Bennett told the Associated Press.
In January, as millions of women flooded the nation’s capital to protest gender discrimination and sexual violence at the Women’s March, Carman posted a photo of a woman standing over a stove with the caption "Just asking....will the woman's protest be over in time for them to cook dinner?”
"I just wanted to push back against that hurtful rhetoric, those archaic ideals, and speak for those who feel they don't really have a voice anymore." #AshleyBennett#Election2017https://t.co/jHgH15oMKn— Bennett 4 Freeholder (@Bennett4Office) November 9, 2017
Another post featured the popular Kermit the Frog tea-drinking meme with the caption “There must be a large sandwich making class going on in DC today.”
Carman initially refused to apologize for his sexist attempts at humor — a move that prompted several women, including Bennett, to walk out of a freeholder meeting.
"I walked out because you had the entire time to sit and collect your thoughts, and hear what people were saying, and instead of apologizing and saying you could do better, you disrespect people and say the people you surround yourself are strong," Bennett told the Philadelphia Inquirer at the time. "There are a lot of people who are strong."
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By the time Carman issued a statement calling his posts “an error in judgement,” Bennett had decided to run against him.
Her campaign said the big win demonstrated the power of regular folks to affect change and fight back against discrimination.
"Ashley Bennett's victory proved that democracy works best when ordinary people speak out, vote, and run for office," Bennett’s spokesperson told the AP. "She is ready to put in the hours to improve the lives of everyone in her district — and she doesn't plan on making it home in time to cook dinner any time soon."