Hillary Clinton launched her online campaign store Tuesday morning with a dozen T-shirts, a novelty coffee mug, and a feministy cross-stitch pillow.
"The perfect touch for any home, whether it’s 1600 Pennsylvania Ave or simply Pennsylvania," the product description for the pillow reads. The text on the pillow? "A WOMAN'S PLACE IS IN THE WHITE HOUSE."
It's a not-so-subtle early strike at an age-old critique that is sure to permeate every aspect of Clinton's run for the presidency in 2016 — the idea that a woman doesn't belong leading a country, she belongs in the home raising children.
As a woman who exists in the world — and as one who has chosen to place herself in a prominently all-male profession — Clinton has already faced plenty of sexism in her campaign's nascency. When she officially announced her candidacy in April, many of the critiques of her decision to run weren't about her qualifications at all, they were about her being a woman.
A great piece of campaign merchandise is one that does a candidate's advertising for them. That's why buttons have been such a centerpiece of American campaigning since as early as William McKinley's 1896 presidential campaign. As mechanical reproduction became more affordable, campaign buttons evolved into campaign T-shirts and campaign hats, campaign coffee mugs and campaign baby onesies.
Things like this pantsuit shirt, then, make sense for Clinton's campaign. It's on-brand — she's known for her colorful jumpsuits — it's funny, and it's something her supporters can wear in public.
Regardless, the pillow seems to be a big hit: Tuesday evening, mere hours after the store had been open, Clinton's Twitter account announced that the pillow was already in its second round of production, and urged shoppers to buy now "before it sells out again."
We reached out to the Clinton campaign, and while they declined to name the designer of the pillow, they did tell us that all of the models on the store site are members of the campaign staff and that more items will be added as the year goes on.
The pillow is a smart joke by the Clinton campaign, poking fun at what will be a very long and very strenuous battle with sexism over the course of the next 18 months. The cushion is hand-stitched, like one that might have sat on your grandmother's couch years and years ago; it conjures both the past and the future.
It's more than decorative. The pillow is proof that Clinton's not only well aware of the sexist critiques against her, she's ready to face them head on.
Kelsey McKinney is a culture staff writer for Fusion.