Grand Old Pricks – Masks Off for Misogyny

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Josette
 Arvizu
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Content warning: sexist and sexually demeaning imagery.

It’s unfortunate that we’d have to give a disclaimer before talking about the behavior coming from one of our major political parties, but here we are. Welcome to 2020.

Recently, the Republican Party of Bernalillo County posted a [again, content warning] vulgar meme on Facebook with a photo of a woman, tongue out, licking a spiny cactus in a sexually suggestive manner. The meme has the words “Things I would rather do than listen to Michelle Lujan Grisham” on the image. The post text reads #AbsoluteTruth.

So let’s unpack this message.

“I’d rather lick a cactus than [fill in the blank of something they really don’t want to do]”. It’s an expression that overstates their contempt for whatever it is they’re being asked to do, don’t want to do, and would rather harm themselves than do.

The Bernalillo County GOP decided that the words were not enough and that a visual would make a deeper impression. So, in the true spirit of the GOP, they selected an image of a woman licking a cactus, spines and all — pricks and all. The sexual connotation is not subtle. This is a stock photo of a woman fellating a cactus from an official Republican Party social media channel. We’re rarely surprised by the actions of the Republican Party anymore but come on. This is low even for them. It speaks to the insincerity of a party that has attempted to rebrand itself in our state as “Respect New Mexico” and claims to be the party of family values.

What’s worse is that this image is directed at New Mexico’s Governor Lujan Grisham. Despite her expertise in public health and successes handling the coronavirus pandemic in our state, to the Republicans what she says with regard to COVID-19 and other matters should be ignored, dismissed, and silenced. Oh how the Republican Party likes to silence women who are in opposition to their so called “values.” Don’t like what she says? Shut her up. Or maybe lock her up?

“Lock her up!”

On Tuesday at a campaign stop in Lansing, Donald Trump went on a tirade against Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and her pandemic response. His pack of supporters, so conditioned to hear “Democrat” + “woman” + “COVID shutdowns” and begin foaming at the mouth, responded to Trump’s attacks on Whitmer with the chant of “Lock her up!” a revival of the 2016 rallying cry against Hilary Clinton for any number of imagined evils.

With no accusations sticking to Joe Biden, Trump went back in time four years for one of the greatest hits in MAGA country — the thrill of threatening a woman with punishment to silence her into submission.

It’s no wonder that the Republican Party of Bernalillo felt empowered and emboldened to sexualize and demean our Governor when this behavior of blatant sexism comes from the top.

Bingo

Back to that phallic cactus. (Anyone have that on their 2020 dystopia bingo card?)

Let’s run through a quick list of the ways the Republican Party has shown their “Respect” for New Mexicans in the last month.

Earlier this month, the Grant County Democratic Party monthly Zoom call was hijacked by right-wing cranks who made transphobic comments, threatened violence, and masturbated on camera.

The home security video [content warning, nudity] of a naked man stealing a Biden/Harris sign out of an Albuquerque family’s yard is all over the internet. This prickish behavior is a hostile attempt to shock and intimidate, even if the lasting effect is kind of pathetic.

Naked Man Steals Biden Harris Sign in Albuquerque

That’s why the cactus licking meme directed at Lujan Grisham is a cause for concern — it’s a window into the twisted ideologies of people who use sexist violence to try to get their way by force. While GOP officials may try to distance themselves from right-wing extremist groups in our state, we’ve reached a point where the lines are blurred or nonexistent.

That’s now the mask-off approach to gender and power by mainstream GOP operatives. This is the trickle-down effect of Trump’s violence toward women. Remember he gleefully recounted how he’d “grab them by the pussy.” To date, 26 women, one of whom was a 13 year old child at the time of the rape, have accused Trump of sexual assault. This is his M.O. And yet in 2016, many people — many women — voted for him anyway.

So, it’s no surprise his camp of supporters, including those responsible for official GOP channels like the Bernalillo County Republican Party Facebook page unleash blatant misogyny publicly. The bar for professional conduct has been lowered into the abyss. They don’t even try to pretend anymore.

Of course, naysayers will point out the meme is a joke. Like the supposed “locker room talk” or boys will be boys excuse for Trump’s pussy-grab quote, this is a game they play. It’s always the ‘women/liberals can’t take a joke” to cover for bad behavior.

In the wake of substantive accountability for sexual harassment, assault, and abuse following the #MeToo movement, that just doesn’t fly anymore. Women are not overreacting. None of this is really about sex anyway. It’s about power. It’s about who gets to have a voice, who gets to lead, and the fragility of conservative masculinity.

We don’t know about you, but this sure doesn’t sound like “Respect” to us. Enough is enough. Now is the time to vote them all out and keep them out for good.

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Alissa Barnes :: Executive Director
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Alissa Barnes is Executive Director at ProgessNow New Mexico where she leads a team that works on message development, issue and voter education, and amplification of progressive messages and values. She leads the organization in strategy development, fundraising, and organizational growth and sustainability.

Alissa’s background includes nearly 12 years at Roadrunner Food Bank where Alissa led the development and creation of multiple programs that are now national models, invested in community building and collaborations, and worked closely with elected officials, educating about hunger and why policies would either benefit or hurt clients in food lines. She has a BA from the University of New Mexico and various non-profit certifications.
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Marianna Anaya :: Deputy Director
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Marianna oversees strategic messaging and creative implementation tactics for issue-based and political campaigns. She leads the team’s digital and earned media programs, bringing a New Mexico values-based approach to her work. 

Marianna’s background includes race and ethnic studies in education as a focus at UT Austin and UCLA, political campaign work, staffing former Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham as well as leading organizing and communications work for the Albuquerque Teachers Federation.

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Lucas Herndon :: Energy and Policy Director
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Lucas’ focus is on all things energy and environment, election integrity projects and general messaging strategy. He is often the front facing voice for PNNM when it comes to issues surrounding methane, renewable energy, oil industry accountability, and public lands issues. 

Lucas has an extensive background in public lands and solar energy. He was instrumental in the creation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in 2014 and has participated in every local election since 2012 through phone banking, online organizing, and poll watching. Lucas is a lifelong resident of Las Cruces where he has served in various capacities of leadership including as President of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce, District Director for the Dona Ana County Democratic Party, and attending and completing the inaugural classes of the Las Cruces Neighborhood Leadership Academy and the Las Cruces Tree Stewards. 

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Josette Arvizu :: Communications Director
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Josette Arvizu is the Communications Director at ProgressNow New Mexico where she oversees the development and implementation of systems that further the external and internal communications of the organization.

Josette’s background in marketing includes copywriting, paid media, SEO and content strategy for businesses and nonprofits, including convention and visitor bureaus from Bermuda to Anaheim. She began her career teaching writing to college students while in New Mexico State University’s MFA in creative writing program. Her previous work promoting diversity and inclusion includes coordination of writing and traditional arts workshops for Native American youth at the Tucson Indian Center.
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Jackie Aguirre :: Communications Specialist
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Jackie’s focus is on graphics and social media marketing that promote progressive issues across our state. 

Jackie’s background includes work in the Reproductive Justice space focusing on Latinx, Chicanx and Mexican-American communities.

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Edgar Cruz :: Communications Specialist
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Edgar Cruz is a Communications Specialist at ProgressNow New Mexico where he focuses on video creation and research that promotes progressive issues across our state.

Edgar has a background producing multimedia initiatives. With over five years of radio production experience, he is a movement agent who believes in exploring all avenues of media to inform and engage community.

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