The last month or so, I’ve been frustrated by a new bone the misogynists have dug up and are very excited to chew on. They post a picture of the first lady (Melania Trump), and they make lewd and rude comments about her looks, her dress, her breasts, her nipples, her eyes, her face, etc. I know she’s an awful person, that’s a part of the point of this post, but this stuff they’re picking at? It’s off limits no matter how vile the human. And most of what they’re saying is sexist, truly repugnant. Considering Melania’s racism, birtherism, plagiarism, lying about her education/languages she speaks/how she got into the USA/when she worked illegally, and supporting her husband’s cruelty to children and oppression of women, there is more than enough fodder if you must go after her. Honestly, there is a lot of low-hanging fruit if you’re going to bother. Melania Trump is a noxious human being. Nobody should ever feel the need to go for the petty shit unless they aim to harm women.
Which they’re clearly fine with.
A bit of an introduction or housekeeping, if you will: I’ve done lots of posts about women and men being sexist and the harm they do to themselves, to us, to their kids, with their misogynist/Patriarchal bullshit. I’ve done posts about being careful about the thoughts you have, the words you use in your mind, because those thoughts become your beliefs and your actions. Hell, there’s a whole list of links just from similar posts on these subjects at the end of this. My guy laughs at me for my “bibliographies” since this is a blog, and I don’t have to provide support for anything if I don’t want to. But I do it because it’s right, because I want to, and because I want people to understand where I’m coming from and how important so much of this is. This post is simply addressing some specific instances that represent many we see every single day. I aim to point out sexism in everyday life so that we can all better recognize and understand it and how it affects our thoughts, actions, and interactions. Also, quick note in case something doesn’t make sense; this post is meant to directly follow up, “Hi. My Name Is Gray. . .” I wouldn’t say it’s a two-parter, but they are directly related and came from the same issues, the same line of thinking regarding pervasive bigotry, insidious, dangerous sexism, ingrained in all of us, in our society.
This stuff isn’t new in social media or anywhere else. Missouri Senate candidate Courtland Sykes showed his ass to women in a 2018 posting on Facebook, “Democrats dressing for the jobs they want.” Included was an image juxtaposing three Democratic women (Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and Claire McCaskill) with three Disney villains. The politicians were wearing their usual work clothes, doing jobs we elected them to do for us. It was a public post just the like the rest I linked here (some with partial threads for context).
Back to the Melania thing.
There was some particularly jarring hypocrisy in these posts specifically taking jabs at Melania Trump. When confronted on their sexism, some posters cited attacks on Michelle Obama. I didn’t recall Melania Trump criticizing Michelle Obama’s clothing or body, not that finding such evidence would make the rest okay. When I went looking I found that the excuse these people, mostly women, were using for their sexist comments was that at points in the past, (mostly conservative) people had criticized Michelle Obama’s choice of wardrobe when she wore a top or a “shell” dress that exposed her toned arms. As far as I can tell Melania didn’t make any of those comments though it wouldn’t matter; two wrongs don’t make a right. At the time, we’d all come to Michelle’s defense because she was dressed appropriately, it was nobody else’s business, and to top it, she wasn’t the first First Lady to wear a sleeveless outfit. We know, for sure, that Mamie Eisenhower, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Nancy Reagan also bared their arms at times. Regardless, their clothes are nobody’s business (with two possible exceptions I’ll note later on).
I’m going to try to ignore the nipple thing, but there is a fair amount of obsession specifically about Melania’s. We all have seen her naked so I’m unclear on why anyone is losing their minds about current outfits. Some of these people are in full-on freak out that Melania Trump has nipples. The horror! We all have them. And it’s not as if she’s baring them these days; that gauzy black dress from 2005 was pretty, a tad revealing, but pretty. But then I don’t have a hang-up about nipples – I say ‘free them all.’ Anyway, sometimes, especially if the temperature is low, nips happen, even through our undies and tops. She’s no exception. Freaking about that, of all things, makes you, not her, look silly. Get over the nips. They happen.
Some of them imagined that Melania was exposing herself or putting her breasts in their faces, I guess because they exist on the front of her in photos. Which is the usual placement, I find. Others obsess about how her “kidneys” don’t match exactly. I don’t know any woman whose breasts are symmetrical so, again, unclear on why that’s a jab or why they’d even bring it up unless it’s meant to harm women. Perhaps, those people making the jab are among the few who are perfect and symmetrical, and they just want to point out all the rest of us who aren’t?
Then there are the sick fucks who insist they paid for Melania’s breasts. They believe they own a part of another human being’s body. We don’t own a chunk of every person whose GoFundMe for medical care we contributed to. We don’t own a chunk of every person who’s ever used the health insurance plan we’re on. And they don’t own a chunk of us. I’ve tried to explain how the economy works, how we pay for things, and that money goes to a company, which pays it’s employees and suppliers, and they pay for things like butter, hammers, and boobs. That doesn’t mean the person who bought the original thing owns the butter, the hammers, or the boobs. Same deal for us paying taxes. Even if the president, his wife, and his entire family weren’t making tons from taxpayers and foreign leaders by enriching themselves in violation of Emoluments Clauses, that still doesn’t mean the money we paid in taxes directly paid for anything. I mean, our taxes eventually cover roads and schools and DVDs at the library, but that doesn’t mean you DIRECTLY own anything, a section of road, a part of a student, or the DVD you checked out. Neither do I. And we didn’t directly pay for Melania’s breast augments, Ben Carson’s dining room tables, or Scott Pruitt’s Ritz-Carlton lotions. That’s not how trade works. And even if it was, we don’t own human beings; we don’t own parts of other human beings. Period. I could not convince some determined women and men of the end of slavery (perhaps because there is still some question of the legality of indentured servitude?), but I keep trying.
I actually had more than one person (females and also the one below who appears to be a female) try to tell me that “modesty is a virtue.” It was such a shock that something so silly and sexist came up in this way. Modesty as a “virtue” is a myth used by the powerful to suppress the less powerful. To hear a woman try to push that as the excuse for her disgusting and sexist claims, for bullying, for trying to put another “in her place,” made me wish for a way to remove HER shackles so that she could understand how harmful it is to me, to her, to ALL of us that she repeats the oppressor’s claim to bully another woman to conform to her personal opinion of a “proper” lady. “Modesty.” FFS.
This one above has clearly gone completely around the bend as the photo in question is of Melania, fully-clothed including undergarments (we can see the outline of her bra), in a white and pink dress. No idea where the pedophilia reference came from, but their idea of what young girls should be taught is frightening. This, my friends, is why we’re such a mess. This person posted this for all to see and clearly stands by it today. Again, Melania is fully-dressed, not that we should be teaching children that our bodies are shameful or that being naked harms anyone. There is nobody else in the photo. Melania is not harming any person, certainly not the person posting about her. There is some nutty, possibly perverted stuff, going on in this person’s mind that they’re projecting onto a photo of the First Lady. And they’re pretending their delusions are because of Melania. Her fault. FLOTUS is somehow indecent and to blame for this kook’s imagination. Seriously.
I said I’d come back to this, and no, it’s not about the white and pink dress (though I will say I don’t share Melania’s aesthetic in many areas). Generally, what other people wear, the shape of their bodies, etc. is none of our business. The two exceptions I will bring up because I said I would are fairly direct. The first, and it’s difficult to argue as the racism is subtle, was when Melania Trump wore the pith helmet in Africa. If you argued it publicly, I’d certainly not say a word as it’s tough to deny that was in very poor taste, and I find it hard to believe it was an innocent mistake. The second exception was the jacket with a literal message/statement on it, “I REALLY DON’T CARE DO U?,” when Melania was going to McAllen, Texas to visit with children her husband and the GOP had kidnapped and was holding unlawfully. I don’t expect that one calls for further explanation.
As they force me to hold my nose and defend FLOTUS, they ask “didn’t your mother teach you to wear a bra?” They were in fashion when I was a kid, so yes, my mother did teach me to wear a bra (which, it turns out, isn’t great advice if you want to keep ’em perky; a bra is a “false necessity”). Mom actually took it much further suggesting that my bra and panties and the rest of my lingerie (camisole, slip, garter belt, all of it) should all be coordinated and match my outerwear. She managed it, after all. It was more important to her than feeding us.
Other people wearing a bra or not isn’t my business, and I strongly suspect Melania wears one when she attends events, assuming it won’t make the outfit look silly. Her choice. Her business.
What is this “she’s not a lady” thing? According to whom?
According to my mother a lady sits a certain way, stands a certain way, speaks a certain way, or rather she’s quiet until she’s spoken to. Like a child is supposed to be. Melania does all that. So that means FLOTUS is a “lady” but I’m not because I don’t always cross my legs or keep my mouth shut?
Then again, Mom was a person of contradictions. She preached the “ladylike” BS, being quiet, not drawing attention, but you’d also hear blues blasting out of her car stereo two blocks away from the house. She was petite, pretty, smart and clever, very quick, and was fond of reminding us that what is considered “assertive” from a man is called “aggressive” when a woman does it. She was proud of being an “assertive” driver. She doesn’t drive anymore. The Alzheimer’s has done a number on that quick, clever wit and on her memory. She still sits “like a lady,” though. That instruction must be hardwired.
I guess we need to clear this up so the rest of us know who we’re supposed to “obey” if we’re going to get along in this Patriarchy. It’s obviously not my mom. Is it yours? Because they all have a slightly different opinion, and expecting all of us to measure up to one mom is not going to work out for many of us. Obeying the men isn’t going to work either.
Whose opinion should matter to the first lady, a person who was not even born in the USA? For those who are quick to put a woman (or anyone) in their crosshairs, open their sexist faces and fire off instructions, uninvited/capricious opinions, and insults, which bitch is the final judge? Because all of these people seem to think it’s very important to “be a lady,” and they’re quick to pronounce judgment by their (mother’s?) arbitrary standards. These Judgy McJudgersons might say there is something wrong with me from their viewpoint on the bench, but the truth is, I’m fine (as depressed, American women go). Just because I’m not a fucking doormat for men doesn’t mean I’m not a woman (or “lady” which, for some reason I cannot fathom, I am supposed to want to be).
Other than Melania herself, who should get to tell her how to dress or what her body must look like? Hint? NOBODY.
“What woman here is so enamored of her own oppression that she cannot see her heelprint upon another woman’s face? What woman’s terms of oppression have become precious and necessary to her as a ticket into the fold of the righteous, away from the cold winds of self-scrutiny?”― Audre Lorde, The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism
I often, though not often enough, speak up and defend myself. I don’t sit like a “lady” or like a man; I just sit. Or walk. Or speak, as the case may be. As far as I’m concerned you can all fuck “modesty,” but since I wear a bra when I go out, am I a “lady?” Since I don’t wear a white bathing suit (or any bathing suit because I don’t swim anymore), does that mean I’m a “lady?”
Almost forgot this gem. Melania wears white often, and they imagine being able to see details of her body through her clothing. I know, I know- why are these pervy freaks trying so hard? How can they be that fucking nosy and petty and icky? But as I defend FLOTUS, they fire off a “didn’t your mother teach you not to wear white. . .” at me. Honestly, she did, and her rule was dumb, yet I still adhere to it though I rarely wear white anymore because I’m clumsy; I spill. Still, because of the rule, I won’t wear white shoes or pants other than between, she’d say “spring,” (but I consider it some time around Easter/spring equinox) and Labor Day. This particular event where they were having the Melania-in-white-clothing freak-out was an Independence Day advertising event that Trump had us pay for to get his campaign ads going. The event was outside in the D.C. heat, and it rained a bit in the afternoon. White was as good a choice as any for a miserable day like that.
As for the high and mighty “mother says to” line, I suggest they all back off. They need to listen to themselves, parroting the words of the oppressors of women like good little girls. We were all raised in a patriarchy, but it’s a big planet, a big country. The silly “rules” vary, from place to place, and from time period to time period. Sure, my mother passed her version of the Patriarchal rules down to me, but a lot of this isn’t lessons for us. It’s for them, the ruling group. We need to unlearn it because it’s control. It’s patriarchy. Women directing other women, judging and making pronouncements using these random rules to make them feel “right” and others “wrong,” is manipulation. It’s the slaves keeping the other slaves in line, their own tiny bit of control. It’s time to join hands with the rest of the oppressed, to stand up, to refuse to participate in the oppression.
And those of us who choose to be parents need to find a balance between preparing our kids for navigating and thriving in a society so broken that we still teach that white boys are right and important and that girls are silly and stupid. It’s time to stop placing value on women based on their relationship to a man. People are not property. We have value just by being who we are. We need to teach all of our young people going forward respect, consent, responsibility, and equality. Mother may mean well, but she probably doesn’t “know best.” Mine sure didn’t. She prepared me to be property in the Patriarchy but barely gave me any tools to be a person all on my own.
At this point, I imagine us as three groups that I hope will one day be united. One group, known as The Patriarchy, stands with their arms folded, looking down on us. Society has taught them that they’re smart and important, even when they’re not, and that they’re in charge of everyone else. They believe all of it, and they’re quick to remind you of their power and of your place outside of their group, under it. The second group stands near the first though they’ll never be a part of the group, and they will never have that power. They point and tell us what we can wear and what we can’t, how to sit and walk, which words are acceptable to use, and they tell us what our goals are. They use words like “modesty” and “ladylike” as they tell us what men want, what is expected from us in order to be acceptable to society, to men, as if everything we do is to impress some weak, mediocre man in the first group. Some of them actually think they’re helping us; they have no idea the harm they’re doing in our society. They cannot see their heelprints on our faces.
The third group holds hands and stands together. Equal. This diverse group is growing, and I dream of all of us one day belonging there. We, in that group, strive to support each other’s personal decisions even when we might decide differently for ourselves. We work for equal rights and opportunities for all people. We recognize that each of us defines our selves, our wants, and our needs. And we respect each other’s right to bodily autonomy, the ability to choose for themselves, to be and live in whatever way works for them. We will stand together through good and bad, and especially when someone is attacking one of us for being who they are, for loving who they love, for living as their authentic self.
“For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. Racism and homophobia are real conditions of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives here. See whose face it wears. Then the personal as the political can begin to illuminate all our choices.”― Audre Lorde
Those of us holding hands, supporting each other, are going to try to ignore those in/supporting The Patriarchy as much as we can. Their rules range from dumb to dangerous. But when you stomp on our rights or come after us (or anyone) for our choices or when you tell us what men expect from us, we’re going to stand together and tell you to mind your own fucking business, to take your petty, bossy man rules someplace else. We’re human beings. We defend each other, our children, even you, from what you are trying to perpetuate, from what you are trying to do to our society. We want more for ourselves and for the next generation even if you don’t. And we’ll fight for it as the women and men before us fought for us.
You decide where you want to stand every day in your words and your actions. I will fight for your rights, but I will not stand with you while you try to infringe on another person’s rights and choices.
Good daughters make good mothers.― Abigail G. Whittlesey
The quote above about made me want to hurl, but it’s an excellent illustration of my points regarding what we learn from our mothers, what others believe they should preach to us. First, we uterus-owners are supposed to value motherhood, being a “good” mother, above all else, but parenthood is a choice. It’s one choice of many, and it’s available to all, not just people with a uterus. And second, the quote is a reminder that a “good” daughter does as she’s told. “Good women” do what they’re told. They’re agreeable, demure, and defer to the men or to their elders in all cases and at all times. But it’s their elders who taught them this. They pass this control down. It’s to keep us pliant, easy to manipulate, controlling each other so that we don’t notice what the oppressors do, what they take. So we don’t fight back. As my guy says, these traits we’re taught are traits “which no man who is looking for a partner rather than a brood mare would actually be interested in.”
How much of what I do now is intentionally because I know Mother wouldn’t approve? How much of that is a good decision for me? Ask yourself the same questions.
When people do and say dangerous things – incite or participate in violence, spout bigoted ideas, violate another’s rights, abuse their power over a person, etc. – then yes, of course we must speak out. That’s the deal with the third group; we stand against bigotry, against hate. But the mere existence of other people’s bodies, their choices in what they wear, their occupation, their significant other, their personal medical choices, these things don’t harm other people. We might form opinions about other people’s choices, but those opinions are ours to keep and to hold privately, to evaluate, to learn from. Why is our opinion important to us? Are we being fair? How much of the opinion is based on facts, on truth, and how much of it is assumption or projection of our own biases? Not everything involves us. As a matter of fact most things happening don’t involve us. It’s presumptuous of us to insert ourselves into other people’s personal choices.
Our opinions and perceptions of others are our problem. They’re but a moment in time, what we see – or what we think we see – filtered through our limited experiences, our fears, our biases. These perceptions might have little or nothing to do with who the person we see actually is. They are, at best, a part of the whole story. To share our uninformed judgments, to project our viewpoint, onto our “target” is wrong and dangerous and will probably only embarrass us. It’s time for us to learn that other people’s personal choices are theirs. If they want our opinion, they’ll ask for it. And don’t blame your mother (or mine) if they don’t like what they hear when they do ask for your opinion; you’re speaking from your mouth, not your mother’s. You’re an adult. You make your own choices. Own them. Even when you’re being a bigot. Especially when you’re being a bigot because that is ALL you.
Young people will learn by listening and watching us, by reading what we put out there; they’ll pass down what we teach them. What does defending or downplaying sexist or racist words, actions, and rhetoric tell them? What does defending sexism, perpetuating Patriarchal rule and rape culture tell them? I mean, besides the message that they’re not important or that their choices are not their own? What messages are we sending for them to pick up and run with?
Come to think of it, Mom also had some good advice. Something else she taught me:
“Judge not, lest ye be judged.”
My Patreon if you are so inclined. Your support is much appreciated! This one was work. I hope they don’t make me defend Melania Trump again. It’s harder than it sounds.
Link: “Bra History: How A War Shortage Reshaped Modern Shapewear” – by Melissa Pandika at NPR
Link: “AUDRE LORDE, ‘The Uses Of Anger: WOMEN RESPONDING TO RACISM’ (1981)” – BLACKPAST.org (2012)
Link: In the news today, Rep. Steve King of Iowa literally supports and defends patriarchy and rape culture. To the public. With a straight face. “Steve King questions if there would be any population left if not for rape and incest” – by Clare Foran at CNN
Link: Hi. My Name Is Gray. . . – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link: Out of Bubble Gum – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link: Hysteria, My Ass – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link: Expect More, Part One – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link: Expect More, Part Two – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link: Live Your Life; Leave Us Out Of It – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link: Uppity Woman – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link: Less Than – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link: Tuning Up The Ol’ BS Detector – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link to original Tweet by feminist next door. Good point, though it’s in response to Tomi Lahren, another noxious person who provides us entirely too much valid “ammunition” to use against her.
Link to original Tweet by ISpeak4theAnimals.
Link: Equal Rights Amendment
I never did find any examples of Melania wearing a wet t-shirt or participating in such a contest, not even before she became first lady. The closest was being rained on, but that happens to us all.
We’ve got another one projecting here. This person is “using” Melania’s good looks to. . . Yeah, I got nothin’. These people really need to learn to keep their weird fantasy stuff to themselves. My point was always leave her looks alone; if you must, go after her numerous character flaws and dangerous actions.
I recall defending Michelle Obama from comments at least as bad as these. None of them see the hypocrisy or the sexism in their Tweets. I have to wonder where all this misogyny that they’re projecting onto Melania is coming from? I wonder if they’d blame it on their mothers, too?
TL;DR: This is specifically about people using sexist/misogynistic jabs to attack Melania Trump when there are valid, non-sexist reasons to go after her. People’s personal choices are their own, and it’s on all of us to respect each other’s choices even when we don’t agree with them. People attacking others, especially men and women attacking women (when they would never do the same to a man) is a part of perpetuating Patriarchal rule. Don’t stand with our oppressors; they’ll never make you one of them, anyway. Stand above them. Stand with us, for all people.
#GMMotherTaughtMe #SmashThePatriarchy #RatifyERA