Mimicking the GOP, Naftali Bennett's Lady-Themed Ad Is Not a Good Thing

Screenshot vis YouTube

Women like to talk about men. They also like to exercise. And often do these two things at once. At least that’s what I learned from Naftali Bennett’s new campaign video. In it a pair of attractive seemingly secular women appear in five vignettes. In each vignette they are shown conversing about various social issues as they go about their day (3 out of 5 of the scenes involve them working out).

“The security guard in our building told me that they raised the salary for all the security guards by 1,000 shekel”, one woman tells the other as they ride their bikes.

“1,000 shekel? Who did that?” her friend replies.

“Bennett. Not only the security guards, he also raised the salary of the cleaning staff by 1000 shekel.”

For a moment it appears that the women will be seduced by Bennett’s ability to get things done, “To tell you the truth, he really does it…”, they say, but then they ruefully recall that, “but he’s a right-winger.”

And so he is rejected. It goes on in the same vein— they jog, they discuss childcare; they stretch and discuss employment opportunities. As they are leaving work, they discuss a new initiative to require companies to hire disabled people- until the last scene in which one of the women is left hanging at a bar after her friend abandons her for the seemingly perfect bearded Eldad Gal-Ed (a contestant on the Israeli version of Big Brother and noted right-winger) and can only respond with the familiar refrain, “but he’s a right-winger!”

According to Dr. Shayna Weiss, Bennett’s target demographic is center-right voters who may be on the fence about who to vote for. This is a good thing, because if the ad was aimed at leftists it would show a fundamental misunderstanding of what leftists really think. Unfortunately for Bennett, it also shows a fundamental lack of understanding of women.

It seems that Bennett (or his ad agency) is under the impression that women spend most of their time thinking about men. I’m not talking about the fact that the premise of the ad is that these knee-jerk left-wing Tel Aviv women need a good man to show them that they are wrong (we’ll get to that in a second), I’m talking about the fact that first and foremost, the ad fails the Bechdel test.(link) Each snippet of conversation between the two women in the ad revolves around a man: the first is about a male child, the second about a conversation with a male security guard, the third about a male friend, the fourth is about male co-worker and in the fifth one of the women is whisked away by a bearded hipster.

Yes, this is exactly what women discuss all the time. Never mind other issues that may concern the female electorate such as national security, foreign police or the economy. The only way to get through to us is to compare voting to dating— and what might happen if you let your right-wing prejudice get in the way (hint: you will be alone).

In this way, the ad is similar to the string of Republican ads aimed at women that ran in 2012 and 2014.

In each of these ads the women’s concerns regarding legitimate issues (the economy, healthcare etc) were framed within their relationships with men. In one a woman is shown breaking up with a cardboard cutout of Obama. In another, a reality show contestant must choose between two bachelors, the irresponsible and selfish Democrat or the responsible and good Republican. The women were relegated to the roles of disappointed girlfriends, horrified Bachelorettes and nothing more. Both these ads and the Bennett ad, belie the belief of their creators that a woman’s life revolves around a man.

Jon Stewart’s senior women correspondent may have the best send up of this:

But more than that, as mentioned above, the implication of this ad is that these poor women only think that they are leftist. Thank goodness Naftali Bennett is around to tell them what they really believe. Could you imagine the same ad but with men instead of women?

This ad is part of Bennett’s attempt to paint himself as cool and with it (hence, Big Brother) and to shift the focus away from his party’s religious underpinnings in an effort to attract secular voters, says Weiss. Here’s the problem, you can be as hip as a bearded, tattooed barista in a local-roast, free-trade coffee shop, but you aren’t going to attract female secular (or religious) voters with an ad like that. Most women, like men, hold their political beliefs not because a man came along and showed them the light, but because they have values and ideals and principles and would like to remain true to them. To imply otherwise is insulting and chauvinistic. Naftali Bennett may think he’s a bro, but when it comes to women he’s really “that guy.”

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Mimicking the GOP, Naftali Bennett's Lady-Themed Ad Is Not a Good Thing

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