With less than a month to go until Lebanon’s elections on June 7, the political campaigning has intensified with some parties’ advertising causing controversy across the nation’s blogosphere.
As reported in the latest issue of Campaign, a poster by the Free Patriotic Movement, also known as Tayyar, has inflamed feminist groups and spawned a host of satirical spoofs.
The ad, supposedly aimed at encouraging Lebanon’s young women to participate in the electoral process, depicts an attractive female model next to the headline ‘sois belle et vote’ (be beautiful and vote). Tayyar have used a play on a well know sexist phrase ‘sois belle et tais-tois’ (shut up and look pretty) to get their message across.
But some, including the nation’s women’s rights campaigners the Feminist Collective, view the outdoor ad as exploitative and directly offensive to women, accusing it of the sexism it attempts to lampoon. “Isn’t your ad really saying: ‘hey, men! Look at us! We have hot women! Vote for us!” suggests a posting on the group’s blog.
The group launched their own version of the ad lambasting the male dominated list of political candidates. The doctored spoof shows the model with a black eye and encourages women to protest by not voting: ‘sois intelligente et vote blanc’ (be smart and vote blank).
With voting affiliations split across the nation’s various religious communities, it appears the election will result in a closely contested battle for seats. As a result, digital campaigning has come to the fore, with the nation’s bloggers and designers attempting to influence potential voters via social media and updates direct to the electorates’ inboxes.