Hey, GOP: Slapping Hillary — or any woman — is not a game

August 9, 2013

Hillary Clinton at the Benghazi hearings earlier this year. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

A Republican super PAC is promoting an online game allowing people to virtually slap the former secretary of state across the face. Depending on the person’s fancy, one can slap an animated image of Hillary Clinton while she is either speaking or sitting still via the convenient click of a button.

At first, I thought I had stumbled upon The Onion.

But no, “Slap Hillary,” a “game” originally launched in 2000, is real. The Hillary Project resurrected it this Monday, excitedly tweeting to reporters, “Have you slapped Hillary today?”

Is the game offensive? Is it funny? Or is it just something Clinton needs to “learn to deal with” as a public figure? .

I cannot believe I actually have to write the following: Encouraging people to slap a woman across the face — in essence, advocating violence against women — is offensive and disturbing, whether or not that woman is a public figure, and it is part of some “game” or joke.

The good news is some 105,000 people agree. That’s how many signatures UltraViolet, an online anti-sexism group, collected in 48 hours in support of a petition to The Hillary Project to pull the game. But, so far, no response.

So, women’s groups like Miss Representation and Emily’s List are joining UltraViolet in going over the super PAC’s head to the Republican leadership – RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner – to demand that they unequivocally condemn this sexist game, and to ensure the party does not benefit financially from promoting violence against women.

In less than 24 hours, UltraViolet’s second letter received nearly 20,000 signatures.

“For women, this issue is no laughing matter,” Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet said. “A woman is assaulted every nine seconds in our country. Everyday, three women die because of domestic violence.”

Many are taking to Twitter to voice their frustration and disgust:

@efxkaty As someone once publicly slapped in the face by an abusive ex, humor of a ‪#SlapHillary game c/o GOP PAC is sick to me

@sfpelosi Odious ‪#SlapHillary game a flashback to sexist ‪@Milbank/‪@TheFix  “Mad B*** Beer” during 2008 campaign. Misogyny train is never late.

@coolmcjazz Repub PAC ‪@projecthillary spreads truth about how misogynistic Repubs are: ‪http://bit.ly/1ctPDfL  ‪@akmcquade ‪@SaraLang ‪#SlapHillary

“People everywhere are outraged,” Chaudhary continued. She said UltraViolet has received a flood of support from men and women alike and from both major political parties.

But “Slap Hillary” is merely the latest instance of a frustrating norm of sexist attacks on women in power. Take the misogyny-laced campaign against economist Janet Yellen, one of the top candidates to take control of the Federal Reserve. And surely we have not forgotten the 2008 presidential election, during which critics knocked the two major female candidates for being a shrill harpy and a dumb shopaholic.

In response to those outraged about  “Slap Hillary,” the Super PAC fired back on Twitter this week that no one seemed to be upset with the “Slap Palin” game. And they do have a point…sort of.

“Whether it’s Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann does not matter,” Chaudhary said. “Jokes about slapping women — of any party — ought to have no place in our politics.”

In other words, The Hillary Project supporters, you are correct in saying misogynistic attacks are common fare for women leaders regardless of their political affiliation. That does not, however, give you or anyone else the license to counter sexism with more of it.

Those at The Hillary Project and in the Republican leadership are remaining silent, much to their detriment.

On Wednesday, the Ready for Hillary PAC took advantage of the “disgusting tactics” of the Republican super PAC (which self-describes as “The Only Thing Standing Between Hillary and the White House”) by reaching out to supporters for donations.

Under pressure from the Virginia attorney general’s gubernatorial campaign, The Hillary Project’s treasurer awkwardly cut ties with the super PAC, Talking Points Memo reported Thursday.

By early Friday morning, The Hillary Project had suspended its Twitter account.

Until the “Slap Hillary” game is pulled, Chaudhary said women’s groups are not backing down. If the Grand Old Party, the same party that almost did not reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act earlier this year, really wants to combat its “War on Women” stigma, it should start listening.

Alyson Neel

 Alyson Neel recently returned to the United States after working for a newspaper in Istanbul for the last 2 1/2 years. In the fall, she plans to begin graduate studies in public affairs at Princeton University. Follow her on Twitter @AlysonNeel.

Aly Neel is a multimedia platform journalist who most recently was based in Istanbul, Turkey, where she reported on gender-based violence and discrimination. She currently is pursuing her master in public affairs at Princeton University. Follow her on Twitter @AlysonNeel.
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