Warning: Adult language.
I’ve been pretty actively avoiding looking at the political mess on Facebook.
Today, while scrolling through my news feed, I came across a meme that stopped me in my tracks.
The meme is two images side by side. The first is a picture of Michelle Obama with the quote, “Trump’s sexual boasts have shaken me to my core.” The second is a picture of Beyonce in little more than a thong and heels on stage, with a quote from the first lady that reads, “Beyonce could not be a better role model for my girls.”
This meme was made by a Facebook page called “Conservatives Against Obama’s Liberal Agenda.” I have no idea if these are legit first lady quotes or not. And truth be told, I don’t care at this point.
This meme took me all the way down today.
As a woman, as a mother of a young woman, as a survivor of sexual abuse, and a human being, I am offended, sad, and honestly almost at a loss for words. (Almost.)
The “sexual boasts” in the first quote is in reference to Trump’s hot mic slip up that went totally viral. The actual quote was “I just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” The remarks were made in conversation with Billy Bush, as they talked about a married woman Trump “tried to fuck” and an attractive female on the television set.
Here’s the thing. First, I’m not a prude. I don’t have a problem with adult language. In fact, I have a pretty filthy mouth myself. (Sorry, mom.) It’s not the naughty words that I have a problem with. It’s the idea that Trump respects women so little.
Hearing Trump say, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” absolutely makes my blood boil. No amount of money, fame, or perceived power gives anyone the right to put their hands on another human being without their consent.
Since these comments went viral, women have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault against Trump. This is basically going the same as every high profile sexual assault scenario we see. Whether it’s politicians, professional athletes, or celebrities doesn’t seem to matter. Men in high power positions somehow get away with victimizing women without consequence.
When women come forward with their stories, they are either made to feel responsible for the abuse, or that no one believes their stories. Their lives are picked apart, their morals questioned, their choice in clothing judged—as if any of those things somehow makes it acceptable for a man to put his hands on her.
People always ask why women don’t come forward at the time the abuse happens. This is why. The way we treat victims of sexual violence only compounds their shame, and usually, there is no justice for them in the end—just more suffering.
Enter Beyonce in all her fierce, curvaceous glory. The person who put these two images together is suggesting that the first lady is contradicting herself by being offended at Trump’s lewd comments, and also saying that Beyonce is a good role model for her daughters.
Let’s be clear: Beyonce is a grown-ass woman, a talented entertainer and artist, and is absolutely a good role model for young women. When I want to feel like a boss bitch, I listen to Beyonce. She is the queen in my book. And she has the right to wear whatever she wants, sing about whatever she wants, dance however she wants, and express herself as a sexual being any way she chooses.
I am dumbfounded at the idea that people cannot make the distinction between sexual assault, and sexual expression. To put it very simply, the issue lies with consent from the female. “Grabbing” a woman “by the pussy” without explicit consent is sexual assault. This is not at all even remotely close to the same thing as a woman expressing herself as a sexual being on her own terms.
This meme was a pretty blatant example of the rape culture we live in today.
The damage reaches far beyond the individuals who were directly abused. Situations like this create a quiet violence toward all women. As a culture, we have normalized misogyny. We’ve allowed this to go on for so long, it’s just accepted as “locker room talk.” We blame the victim. We don’t punish men in powerful positions. We minimize and justify and explain away these violations of our most basic human rights so frequently, that it’s become our social norm.
As a mother of a 20-year-old daughter, this is not okay with me. She is watching these events in our country. Her own self-worth, and ideas about how men should treat her in the world are influenced every single time something like this shows up in the headlines. When Mr. Trump and men like him violate the rights of a woman in the world—they also violate my child, and every woman who will watch another sexual assault case hit the news in which the woman is slut shamed and made to look hysterical, and her abuser receives less than a slap on the wrist.
As a mother of a 16-year-old son, this is not okay with me. My son is watching these events. He hears the derogatory way we speak about women as a culture. He is learning how to objectify the female body. He’s learning how to slut shame. He is learning how to be a man in the world, from the poorest examples available.
I wish I had a solution for misogyny in America. I wish I could toss some hippie dust up in the air and end this violence against women. I wish our rape culture, and all those who perpetuate it would just disappear. I wish I never had to look at another stupid internet meme suggesting that women deserve to be treated like anything less than the perfect, divine beings they are.
I wish our public figures would behave with a little more decorum. I wish that as a culture we could unite in demanding that our leaders be held to a higher standard, that they would be so above reproach in word and deed that we would never see another case like this in the headlines. I wish my children had better examples to learn gender roles from in the world.
I wish we could make feminism cool again, and people wouldn’t cringe at the word. Truly, this is not a women’s issue. It’s not an us against them or men against woman issue. It’s a human rights issue. It’s a cultural issue. It’s a respect issue, and we can do better than this.
Also, let’s talk about Billy Bush & how we can have hope for the future:
And why sex & politics shouldn’t be taboo (& Waylon’s hair is cray-cray in the morning):
Author: Renée Dubeau
Editor: Renée Picard