Feminists have accused an Austrian Green Party MP of being sexist against himself after he unveiled an election poster showing his face covered in lipstick kisses.
Julian Schmid’s campaign poster shows his lipstick-covered face along with the slogan “I’m open for everything.” However, this proved too risqué for the rival Neos party, who complained to the Werbewatchgroup – a feminist watchdog coordinated by Vienna’s Women’s Department.
The group agreed with the complaint, ruling that not only did it play to gender stereotypes, it also “objectified” Schmid and excluded gay people.
“The sexualized representation of people (mostly women, but increasingly also men) is the most common and visible form of sexist advertising,” the group said in a statement.
They went on to complain the poster could suggest Schmid is “open for sexual adventures” and that this is therefore a case of “a male being sexualised”.
Even though Schmid unveiled the poster himself two weeks ago – and proudly posted it on Facebook – the group still claimed it “objectified” him.
“Whilst objectifying this man, the poster is also trying to, with a wink, acknowledge gender stereotyped patterns – where the man is seen as potent and polyamorous.”
Also, because red lipstick marks are associated particularly with women rather than men, the poster “effectively excluded non-heterosexual relationships” and presented the “construction of heterosexuality as a social norm.”
The Vienna Greens said they were “surprised” by the statement, while Schmid told Der Standard that he felt “embarrassed” by the controversy but added that “politics should also be a little bit fun”.
Earlier this year, a feminist campaign against advertisements for Protein World backfired after the small company reported record sales thanks to attention generated. Breitbart London reported that the company made £1 million in four days thanks to the attention drawn by angry Social Justice Warriors.
Schmid also thanked the Werbewatchgroup. “At least we’ve now drawn some attention to the campaign posters,” he joked.