Student leads criticism of sexist campaigning
A 19-year-old student from the canton of Valais has gone viral after adding her voice to the many commentators criticising the perceived sexism surrounding the campaigning for this Sunday’s referendum.
In a 90-second video Camille Carron, who lives with her parents in Fully, expresses her reaction to the latest piece of publicity from the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), which calls for people “to better protect our women and girls” by voting in favour of their initiative to expel foreigners who commit crimes from Switzerland.
Dripping with sarcasm, Carron’s video reminds the Swiss People’s Party that women can also vote and that their communication materials neglect half the population by being aimed only at men.
“Women have the right to vote too, yes, since the 70s I think,” she says. “Yes I know, it's incredible, but we can vote. And also, I think women can protect themselves as well as men, perhaps better.... so your slogan, it's really useless guys.”
Speaking to daily Le Matin, Carron said she didn’t want to jump on the controversial debate over the expulsion of foreign criminals, but wanted to “laugh at the party’s antiquated views”.
“I received their leaflet in the mail at midday. Fifteen minutes later I made my video. It was a way to vent,” she said.
By Saturday the video, posted on Carron’s Facebook page, had gone viral, and by Tuesday had more than 227,000 views and 3,000 shares.
Reacting to the video, Jerome Desmeules, co-president of the Valais branch of the Swiss People’s Party, said he was pleased that “adolescents” could express their opinions on politics but was dismayed that Carron showed so little empathy for the victims of crimes.
“That will come with maturity,” he said.
The SVP – now Switzerland’s largest party – isn’t the only one to raise shackles with male-orientated or stereotypical campaigning.
A poster published by trade union SGV in support of a second tube for the Gotthard road tunnel, shows an elderly woman with her head in her hands and bears the slogan “Sorry grandmother, your grandson died in the tunnel because I didn’t vote yes”.
“When we want to move people, we use women. They are exploited,” Lorena Parini, a professor of gender studies at the University of Geneva, told Le Matin.
“Here women are represented as old, vulnerable, alone and passive, like something to be protected, a pure stereotype,” added Eléonore Lépinard, professor of gender studies at the University of Lausanne, who deplored the stereotypical approach.
“They think that they can only attract the female vote through sentiment and emotions. It doesn't address the technical or financial arguments, even though those are the important things in this campaign,” she told the paper.
Bernhard Salzmann of the SGV dismissed the criticism.
“It could have been a grandfather or grandmother,” he said. “I don’t see this as a cliché about women. Without the second tube, the Gotthard will remain a section of road where men and women will lose their lives.”
On February 28th the Swiss people will go to the ballot box to vote on four main issues: the creation of a second tube for the Gotthard road tunnel, the SVP’s proposal to expel foreign criminals, an initiative against the trading in basic foodstuffs and a fourth initiative aiming to put an end to tax disadvantages for married couples.
Women in Switzerland have only been able to vote in federal elections since 1971.
At cantonal level, women in some cantons including Vaud could vote from 1959, but the canton of Appenzell only granted women suffrage in 1990, after being forced to by the federal supreme court.