WASHINGTON, June 26, 2013 ― Thousands of angry feminists poured into the streets last week in a violent protest, after Huffington Post broke the story about a scandalous Swiffer advertisement that exploited the image of “the famed feminist icon Rosie the Riveter” to promote a new line of the company’s mopping products ― a notion widely perceived as blasphemous, sexist, and outright hate speech.
The rioting started after someone Tweeted a snapshot of a Sunday morning paper insert, which depicted a Rosie lookalike cleaning the house. The shocking story was quickly picked up by Huffington Post, ThinkProgress, and other online publications frequented by radical feminists, causing an instant wave of “Internet chatter” and soon leading to worldwide unrest.
Rallying in front of Procter & Gamble headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, roughly 4,000 feminists ripped apart Swiffer Sweeper refills, burned Swiffer 360° Dusters, and waved never used mops.
Many were holding banners condemning the offensive ad and urging followers to take a decisive action. “Feminists condemn the blasphemy against the Holy Riveter,” one banner read.
It is well-known that feminism forbids any mocking or unapproved use of its symbols, especially if it’s done with the purpose of making money in a capitalist economy.
While the controversial ad didn’t use the actual poster of Rosie, the mere resemblance to the iconic image was seen by many as an insult to the global feminist community.
At Georgetown Law School, students and teachers of the Matriarchy Studies department marched through campus, breaking into janitors’ closets and throwing cleaning utensils into a large pile, which they later set on fire, while chanting “Matriarchy now!”, singing “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” and distributing free government condoms.
The image of Rosie the Riveter first originated as a propaganda poster during World War II, when the U.S. government encouraged women to work in factories while the men were fighting the Germans and Japanese.
Not ones to allow a good crisis to go to waste, American feminists appropriated Rosie’s persona as a specimen of what they hoped to breed in a government-dominated society of the future: a woman who needed a man no more that a fish needed a bicycle. That is why, even after the war ended, followed by decades of peace and prosperity, Rosie still can’t be allowed to move from the production line back to being a housewife and using a Swiffer broom.
Reports suggest the hard-line feminist group, Matriarchy Can’t Wait, which seeks a global feminist domination, has been behind calls to stage major protests around the world. The latest recruitment video posted on several radical websites, had this message from the group’s charismatic leader: “We urge all devout feminists to use every one of their manipulative pressure tools to stop these campaigns organized by the sexist fringe that spread hatred of the matriarchy under the guise of so-called cleaning products.”
As the protests spread around the globe, world capitals have become stages for anti-American rallies by international feminists, many of whom have never heard of Rosie and whose outrage is caused mostly by the news of an American business turning a profit. While some feminists simply demanded that their faith in the matriarchy be respected, others wanted blood.
“We consider any commercial depiction of our Founding Mother offensive,” said one teary-eyed member of the militant faction of the fundamentalist feminist group called Vaginas Now! in front of the European Union headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
Her companion, a protester from Germany, agreed. “A U.S. corporation using a revered government propaganda poster to make money by selling products on the free market is a triple insult,” she said, holding up a sign that called for the burning down of American embassies around the world.
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry apologized to world feminists for an obscure ad found only in domestic Sunday paper inserts. “Make no mistake, we will work with the IRS, DOJ, EPA, and labor unions to bring to justice those responsible for this despicable act of anti-feminism,” the President said at a special Rose Garden press-conference.
In an effort to repair America’s image, the State Department distributed a video address on the world’s television networks. Subtitled in every known world language, the video featured clips of Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Charlie Sheen, and other influential political and cultural leaders denouncing Swiffer and the practice of cleaning the house in general.
“The United States government condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack against Rosie the Riveter, who is the patron saint of this administration and the Democratic Party,” the video said.
Hundreds of feminists, however, clashed with security officials as they tried in vain to reach the American embassy in London amid anger over the vulgar depiction of a woman with a broom.
In Europe, the ad poses a huge human rights dilemma. Denmark is considering a ban on Swiffer products, hoping to appease the country’s three million strong feminist population. But a far-right male chauvinist organization, Sexists for Patriarchy, has announced plans to reproduce the controversial ad on flyers and throw them from an air balloon over Copenhagen. No air balloon operator has yet agreed to provide this service, but the group remains undeterred, even after Denmark’s Interior Ministry accused them of “recklessly pouring oil on the fire.” This is exactly the fire that some fear radical feminists would be all too happy to fan.
As outrage has engulfed the entire world, protests differ from one country to the next.
A demonstration in Iran’s capital gathered around a hundred or so young women. Having whispered all at the same time, “We want better cleaning products,” they promptly scattered without incident.
In Kabul, though, police had to detain 120 women. Around two hundred of those demonstrating were dressed in pink burqas, reminiscent of Western feminists’ vagina costumes, chanting “Swiffer go to hell!” and refusing to disperse. In total, some 250 protesters were detained in Afghanistan over the weekend.
Though the feminist protests in the Arab world are far smaller than those seen in the West, local policy experts are worried the current wave of unrest might be manipulated by feminist extremists who want to recruit new members and expand their influence.
“You’ve got radical feminists looking to exploit this, they want young women to get into the habit of extreme protesting and making unreasonable demands,” says Jamal Khan, security analyst for Al-Jazeera. “Most of these female protesters in the West are without a job or any economical perspective due to a useless college diploma in gender studies and redistributive justice, burdened with unpaid college loans, having suffered patriarchal oppression and extreme sexism of the so-called ‘free democracies’ ― an undeniable fact, proven and documented by their own Western media. Extreme feminists are using this stored frustration and anger for their own goals.”
But top Egyptian Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qadrat argues that there is no such thing as moderate feminism. “The radicals are not perverting the doctrine of feminism ― they are following it to the letter,” he stated in his latest TV address. “In cases where extreme fringes of other political movements have used their faith to justify violence, leaders of these movements have taken stands against these justifications. But the silence in the face of extremism coming from the best-funded feminist organizations is deafening. It casts doubts upon their commitment to peace,” he said, challenging the so-called “moderate women” to take a stand but being skeptical that they would.
“You, who condone the radical fringe in your midst, take part of the blame,” al-Qadrat told his female viewership. “The radicals are hiding behind you and your silence is helping them to do it. If you hear about an act of extremism being planned, it is your duty to prevent it. Anything less than this, and it’s proof that you are complicit in these acts and in those that may well follow. Make no mistake, this is the moment to take sides and to show whose side you’re on. And you are and always have been on the wrong side.”
Kareem Habeeb, a political observer for Al-Hayat newspaper, offers a more balanced view, stressing that the core of the protests in Europe and the U.S. are made up of “hard-line feminist radicals who are as xenophobic and intolerant as the radical sexist faction of the male chauvinist movement, spearheaded by Swiffer. Those who incite violence in reaction to the ad are just as guilty, for they have a political agenda, too.”
“Feminists need to lighten up a little, develop a sense of humor, and learn to take a joke,” states a recent lifestyles column in al-Qaeda’s online magazine Inspire. Writing under the pen-name “Sword of Allah,” the author advises feminists to get out of the seventh century mentality, forget their backward, barbaric rituals and superstitions, and embrace enlightenment. “Let’s face it ― your dogmatic, restrictive ways hinder creative thought, impede human development, obstruct free flow of ideas, and result in a dark, hateful, and paranoid view of the outside world. Open up your minds, feminists, and we will help you discover the beauty of living in harmony with the rest of humanity.”
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