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N.J. Dem. Ashley Bennett Wins Seat Held by Man Who Mocked Women's March

Ashley Bennett

Election Day 2017 was in many ways vindication for the ascension of Donald Trump and his brand of white nationalistic, misogynistic, homophobic politics with Democrats taking back and/or holding spots like New Jersey and Virginia governors’ officesand Danica Roem making history for winning a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, making her one of the first transgender people to be elected to any legislature in the United States. One of the more delicious moments of vindication occurred when New Jersey Democrat Ashley Bennett, spurred by Atlantic County freeholder John Carman’s sexist Women’s March meme, ran against him and won. 

During the record-breaking Women’s March last January, which drew millions around the globe to protest the presidency of “I grab them by the pussy” Donald Trump, Carman, a Republican on the board that oversees Atlantic County, shared a meme asking if the march would be "over in time for them to cook dinner.”

Bennett, who’d never held public office, infuriated that an elected official would perpetuate dangerous stereotypes at that particularly sensitive time, wrote about it on Facebook, according to the Associated Press

"I was angry about [the Facebook meme] because elected officials shouldn't be on social media mocking and belittling people who are expressing their concerns about their community and the nation," Bennett, who lives in Egg Harbor Township, wrote at the time.

Following the backlash, Carman tried to walk back the meme with equally condescending remarks, implying that those who were offended by his “joke” that a woman’s place is in the kitchen and not marching on the streets against men like him were humorless — as if feminists don’t hear that all the time. He said the meme was a “bad choice” but that women he knows were “strong and confident” enough not to take it personally, according to the AP. 

Bennett wasn’t the only woman outraged over Carman’s “joke.” His sexist meme sparked a protest of its own that drew dozens of women to an Atlantic County freeholder meeting in late January. One woman held a box of macaroni and cheese and instructions for Carman to make his own dinner. Another brandished Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book We Should All Be Feminists as a gift to him. But none went as far as 32-year old Bennett, a psychiatric emergency screener in the crisis department at Cape Regional Hospital, in making change happen. 

Bennett beat Carman by 1,000 votes out of 14,000 cast for the seat, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer. 

“People want change,” Bennett wrote in a text Wednesday following her win. “I am beyond speechless and incredibly grateful to serve my community. I never imagined I would run for office.”

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