Whether or not a woman can be ‘political, feminist and a sex symbol’ misses the point

Emily Ratajkwoski

The Cut reported today that Emily Ratajkowski, best known for dancing around naked in Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” video, is a Bernie Sanders supporter. Great! Love the guy. But, Ratajkowski’s political leanings weren’t really the point of the story.

Headlined, “Emily Ratajkowski is a proud Bernie babe,” The Cut’s story had nothing to do with socialism… It had nothing, in fact, to do with politics at all. I mean, imagine a story about a male Sanders supporter headlined similarly — it just wouldn’t happen. No one cares what men who support Bernie Sanders look like.

Neither The New York Times (who originally reported the story) nor The Cut seemed interested to know why Ratajkowski supported Sanders, so much as they were interested in pointing out that a objectifiable woman was a Bernie fan.

The most important question the Times could muster was, “Given that she is — to date — the only Bernie Sanders supporter who has made millions from bikini shoots, what had motivated her to use that spotlight in the White House race?”

Referencing Gloria Steinem’s widely-misinterpreted comments last week, Ratajkowski told the Times, “I was there for Bernie, not for the boys.” She went on to explain:

“I think if you are a public figure, you have a responsibility to say something for a cause you truly believe in and help it on its course. It’s incredibly frustrating that society somehow feels that women can’t manage to be political, feminist and a sex symbol.”

Like, honestly, it would have been really great if Ratajkowski had said, “It’s incredibly frustrating that students are drowning in debt,” or “It’s incredibly frustrating that so many Americans are working two jobs and still living in poverty,” or “Health care is a right, not a privilege.” But no. instead she was, apparently, asked about how on earth such a sexy lady could vote!

The framing of this woman’s support for Bernie isn’t the only problem here… It’s that, somehow, feminism, in this context, is being portrayed Kim Kardashian-style — that is to say, that the epitome of “feminism” is the ability to be both fuckable and another thing.

While, yes, women are capable of being objectified and “political,” “feminist,” “a businesswoman,” a mother, human, etc., that isn’t the point. The point is that we are not sexualized objects at all. To aspire to be both “political” and a “sex symbol” is not a goal of feminism — the goal is that women should be listened to and respected,  regardless of whether or not men want to fuck them.

If you want to ask a woman why she’s a Sanders supporter, ask her because you’re interested in her opinion, not her tits. It’s no wonder young women learn that peak empowerment = the ability to have opinions while being masturbated to all at once.

Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist from Vancouver, BC. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including The Spectator, UnHerd, Quillette, the CBC, New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and is now exiled in Mexico with her very photogenic dog.