The “joke,” it seems, was ultimately on him.
Less than a year after a local New Jersey politician, John L. Carman, mocked the Women’s March online, he was defeated by a woman who was inspired to run by his “misogynistic” meme.
Ashley Bennett, a 32-year-old screener for a 24-hour emergency crisis hotline, tells The Washington Post she was “furious” when she learned that Carman, an Atlantic County freeholder, had posted a Facebook meme suggesting that women belong in the kitchen on the day of the Women’s March.
“It’s 2017. Really? Is that what we’re going to do?” Bennett told The Washington Post. “How do you have the time to be on social media belittling and mocking people when there is all this work to be done?”
The meme in question showed a woman stirring a pot over a kitchen stove, and was captioned, “Will the woman’s protest be over in time for them to cook dinner?”
Carman also wrote above the image: “Just asking?”
The following day, Bennett — and a group of about 30 other women — had an answer for him. Bennett recalls how the women confronted Carman about his post (which he later deleted) at a meeting with county officials. One woman even brought a box of macaroni and cheese and told Carman to “cook his own damn dinner.”
“It was in bad taste, the joke I posted,” Carman admitted at the time. “But it was just that. It was a joke … nothing serious about it.” He added that the “strong, confident” women in his life “didn’t get offended by this.”
Bennett was unsatisfied with his response, to say the least. After venting her frustration to her family that night, they suggested, “Why don’t you run?”
Bennett says she surprised her family and herself when she decided to do just that.
And on Tuesday night, Bennett, a first-time campaigner who ran as a Democrat, succeeded in unseating Carman, a 58-year-old Republican who has worked in local government for twenty years.
“I never saw this coming, ever,” said Bennett, who ran as a Democrat for freeholder, an elected county commissioner in New Jersey responsible for legislation and overseeing county budgets.
“If you would have asked me back in November, would you run for office? I would have looked at you strangely,” she added.
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Now Bennett is hopeful that her win will encourage other young people to get involved in local politics.
“If you see something that you don’t like, or that you think should be changed…then do it,” she said. “Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s not your turn. If you’re fearful about it, do it afraid and see it through.”