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Feminspire | April 24, 2014

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Lena Dunham Woos Women Voters with R-Rated Obama Ad

Lena Dunham Woos Women Voters with R-Rated Obama Ad

We’re almost at the end of election season, but there’s still a little more campaign coverage to discuss. The election is less than a week away, and both candidates are vying for hard-to-get voters, one of those coveted groups being women.

In order to appeal to female voters, both sides have released political ads pandering to their supposed needs. First up, Lena Dunham created a video to support Barack Obama. She takes a unique twist and formulates the dialogue to sound like she is talking about her first time having sex. However, she is actually explaining her first time voting.

Right-wing conservatives created a media frenzy criticizing the nature of her video. They claimed the video poses a sexual double entendre for women, and “shows how completely out of touch the Obama campaign is with young women.”


However, Amanda Marcotte challenges the criticism. On slate.com, she responds to a critic claiming that Obama is asking for “your daughters.” Marcotte argues:

“Your daughters. What more is there to say? Sexy young white women are the rightful property of Republican men, and Obama is stealing them from you and filling their heads with this ridiculous notion that they own themselves.”

One group in particular, Independent Women’s Voice, chastised Dunham’s video, claiming “This had got to be our first R-rated presidential campaign ad.” They go on to say “This ad simply proves that the Obama Campaign only knows how to speak to one specific type of woman. And I’m proud to say I am not that type of woman.” What type of woman are you implying her to be, IWV?

Previously, this “a 501(c)(4) nonpartisan, nonprofit organization for mainstream women, men and families” released an ad entitled “Boyfriend” in June of 2012. In the ad, one woman speaks to another about how she trusted this guy for four years and can’t wait around for him to change anymore. At the end, the iconic “HOPE” image of Barack Obama, hanging on the living room wall, winks at the camera.

Recently, IWV released two more videos in the Boyfriend “series,” all comparing Barack Obama to a bad boyfriend. He “always has someone else to blame” and “keeps spending and spending” money the “couple” does not have. The third ad ends with a picture of Mitt Romney as “Mr. Dependable,” teeth sparkling animation and all.

The first question that comes to mind is, why can a nonpartisan organization seemingly endorse a candidate? They clearly depict Obama as a deadbeat and manipulative boyfriend, while showing Mitt Romney as a dependable and caring guy.

The second question is who came up with the animation for these videos? The message is clear and direct enough to stand on its own. The crude animation adds nothing to the video’s message.

While critics are typing fervently to point out flaws with Dunham’s message, they appear silent on Romney’s ad, which aired sometime in early September. In “The Breakup,” a woman is dating Obama and breaking up with him because he is “on the golf course” and “always out with Hollywood celebrities.”

Although devoid of sexual innuendos, it is ripe with irrelevant commentary. Who cares if Obama has been photographed with celebrities? He is the president. Show me a president who has never consorted with celebrities.

Speaking of which, Mitt Romney has had his fair share of celebrity meetings:

Here he is with comedian Jeff Foxworthy.

Romney sings with Meatloaf. Shouldn’t he be busy working so that women can get home to cook dinner for their children, rather than consorting with celebrities?

And here he is, having time to laugh with Donald Trump, rather than cutting spending to lower the national debt. How dare he have time to chuckle.

Another claim in the break up with Obama videos is that Obama is “always on the golf course.” Mitt Romney also has his fair share of fun, vacationing on a lake and pictured on a jet ski with his wife.

Look how much fun he is having instead of creating more jobs for people!

In a world full of contradictions, both candidates fail to recognize their own faults, but jump at the chance to criticize the other side’s flaws. Romney’s ad addresses minuscule issues as reasons not to vote for Obama. Having the “girlfriend” point out silly problems about her boyfriend is one step shy of showing a nagging housewife, wouldn’t you say?

One valid criticism of Dunham is her portrayal of only women’s issues in the video. She does mention the Iraq troops, but most of the other issues deal solely with women.

While this criticism is factually valid, it misses the point; this video is intended to encourage young female voters to vote. Many of the issues that affect young female voters are centered around birth control, the Lilly Ledbetter Act, and gay marriage.

The videos by the GOP and IWV do not expand much upon what they criticize. The women in their videos are portrayed as girlfriends who made a mistake choosing their boyfriends. They’re stupid and they’ve put up with that man for too long. They need a guy who will take care of them and who is dependable.

Dunham’s ad, while overtly speaking in sexual innuendos, touches upon a variety of issues, including abortion, the troops in Iraq, and gay marriage. Her message is clear, funny, and relevant to young female voters, which was her target audience. Regardless of whatever “type of woman” she was catering to, this was definitely not the first R-rated ad campaign.
All of this campaign ad fighting may be tiring you out. You may be world-weary, rejoicing that the election will be over by this time next week. To alleviate your *headdesk* feelings, I close with this final light-hearted political advertisement from Joss Whedon.


What are your thoughts on Lena Dunham’s ad for President Obama and the Mr. Dependable ad for Mitt Romney? Share with us in the comments below.

Written by Nicole Del Casale