Why the “KFC Hillary Special” Button Isn’t Funny

From ThinkProgress:

Here’s how Republicans were fighting for women during the California Republican Party convention on Saturday:


That’s a button that, according to San Francisco Chronicle writer Carla Marinucci, was “popular” at the California Republican Party convention this weekend.

It should be noted that, shortly after Marinucci first reported on the buttons, she followed up with a Tweet indicating that the buttons were removed from the convention.

A friend of mine questioned why this button created such an uproar. “Why is calling a woman fat and small-chested problematic?” He also added something along the lines of, “I wouldn’t be offended if you said I had a small penis. So why should it be different for women?”


Seriously, my jaw dropped. I had to go pick it off the floor of sexism. Then I had to run it under hot water to get all the misogyny off. Then I wanted to scream and pull my hair out. I was at a loss for words — how does one not understand why this button is cruel and unfunny?

So I tried to articulate why this button is not funny. Or at least a few of the reasons. Here is what I came up with:

When black people call white people “crackers,” white people tend to laugh. When white people call black people “niggers,” black people tend to not laugh.

There’s a fundamental difference in the power structures and privilege and history and pressures on each of those groups that — in general — makes the former palatable to white people and the other reprehensible to black people.

As a white person, I can find the former palatable because I have never experienced “cracker” used to intimidate, dehumanize, oppress, or enslave me. Whereas the latter has been used for centuries in the intimidation, dehumanization, oppression, and enslavement of black people. Which is why the latter is not humorous.

As a man, I could care less if you joke about the size of my penis. Joke all you want. (Though, honestly, some men really do struggle with body images, too. So it isn’t funny to some people and is a real struggle for some. And really — can we just stop with making fun of each other’s bodies already? I feel like we should have outgrown that after preschool.)

But joking about women being fat or having small breasts is in an entirely different category.

Joking about women being fat or having small breasts is not funny because those raise very serious, heartbreaking issues.

Women starve themselves to fit a certain body image. They starve themselves. They make themselves throw up. They distend their stomachs because of jokes like this. They cut their bodies with razors because of jokes like this.

They modify their bodies to fit men’s — our — cultural fantasies.

They have killed themselves because of jokes like these.

That’s why it’s not funny.

Published by R.L. Stollar

R.L. Stollar is a child liberation theologian and an advocate for children and abuse survivors. The author of an upcoming book on child liberation theology, The Kingdom of Children, Ryan has an M.H.S. in Child Protection from Nova Southeastern University and an M.A. in Eastern Classics from St. John’s College.

3 thoughts on “Why the “KFC Hillary Special” Button Isn’t Funny

  1. Actually, my complaint about the comparison is that it’s a false analogy. It’s not saying that Hilary has small breasts that people are getting upset about. It’s reducing her to the body parts. The descriptions are unflattering enough, and would bother me, but I’d be a lot less upset if they happened in the context of describing her as a person, rather than as a consumable commodity.

  2. While I grasp your argument, I do not at all see how it is preferable to “All persons should avoid saying hurtful things about any other person.” No person deserves to be degraded or intimidated, and doing a little calculation in one’s head about the cultural context of one’s remarks becomes unnecessary if you are simply committed to respecting everyone.

    1. That’s a really valid point – and when all is said and done, the much more important point. “All persons should avoid saying hurtful things about any other person.” Yes and yes again. Thanks for saying that. My argument was more an attempt to explain to my male friend why jokes about male bodies might be perceived as palatable to him but that fact does not mean jokes about female bodies are on the same level due to power structures and privilege. Though, as you say, saying hurtful things about other people are on the same level in terms of humanity: hurtful.

      May we commit everyday to respecting everyone.

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