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John Berger proposed the idea that "Men look at women and women look at men looking at women."
The man who objectified women, celebrated sexually assaulting them, and perpetuated discourse that fragments women--I speak of the man who lost the popular vote in the Presidential election and who was recorded on tape doing all three things: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-recorded-having-extremely-lewd-conversation-about-women-in-2005/2016/10/07/3b9ce776-8cb4-11e6-bf8a-3d26847eeed4_story.html?utm_term=.84fb0aa244a7 --proved Berger right.
Now, this confirmed sexual groper has nominated as Secretary of Labor a man who makes his living selling dead animals as hamburgers by teaching men how to look at women and women how to look at men looking at women.
I speak of a man who, as the head of Carl's Jr., has overseen some of the most sexist and sexually provocative advertisements to air in the United States. I wrote about Carl's Jr. and its brother company, Hardee's in the afterword to the Bloomsbury Revelations edition of The Sexual Politics of Meat:
Fast food burger chains like Carl’s, Burger King, and Hardees’ fall over each other in their attempt to find new ways of showing barely-clad women being objectified while eating or desiring hamburgers. Another aspect of the sexual politics of meat: the disempowerment of women is inscribed visually by depicting females in non-dominant positions, in which large burgers hang over their bodies, loom large beside their bodies, or are being stuffed into their mouths. The burgers dominate the visual space over or around a woman. They reveal (and enact) fantasies about women’s big mouths and what we can swallow. Women are symbolically silenced by having their mouths stuffed with flesh—that innate and originating patriarchal symbol of power over and violence."
The ads have other things in common: they sexualize a certain type of woman's body (in terms of size and figure), are often racist, reinforcing stereotypes about women of color, while also teaching men how to be voyeurs to women's sexuality. Carl's Jr. teaches that heterosexual men's sexuality is the referent point for dominance and success.
One was shared on social media simply as "blow job woman." The ad exalted in a woman's humiliation.
One simulates a man reaching orgasm by watching a woman whose breasts are emphasized walk by eating a burger as his water hose spurts out water and then stops.
The New York Times, in reporting on the coming nomination of Puzder, wrote:
The advertisements that Mr. Puzder’s companies runs to promote its restaurants frequently feature women wearing next to nothing while gesturing suggestively. “I like our ads,” he told the publication Entrepreneur. “I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.”
What does the burger stand for? The sexual politics of meat. The disempowerment of women, the glorification of their object status, in the midst of the object status of dead animals. Go ahead, step off that bus, Groper in Chief: this is the social environment and the man that will excuse and encourage your sexist comments and your assaultive behavior.
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