Speed Reads

the times they are a-changin'

Female candidates are breastfeeding, discussing sexual assault in campaign ads

Women running for office in 2018 are taking a new approach to campaign advertising, a Tuesday Politico report details, invoking gender in a way once considered inappropriate or ill-advised in a political context.

Some, like Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Kelda Roys (D), released video showing them breastfeeding their children. "[The president] is a guy who's been accused of sexually assaulting and harassing dozens of women," Roys said, and yet he was elected. "The idea that women will still have to walk this very narrow tightrope to be taken seriously and [be] seen as credible — I just think women candidates and women voters, they've had enough."

Another gubernatorial candidate, Krish Vignarajah (D) of Maryland, decided to include breastfeeding in her ad because it authentically shows what her life is like. "It's what moms have been doing forever between juggling work, raising families, and frankly getting the job done," she told Politico.

Other candidates have chosen to discuss sexual harassment and assault, including their personal experiences. Mary Barzee Flores (D), seeking a House seat in Florida, released an ad in which she describes dealing with "handsy" men and sexual misconduct from supervisors.

The idea, said Kelly Dittmar of the Center for American Women and Politics, is to use gender as "as an electoral asset," rather than a disadvantage. So far, Dittmar sees mostly Democratic candidates taking these new approaches, but she suggested they could work for the GOP, too, with a few tweaks.