A popular Instagram account confirms that which we’ve always known: Trump and his supporters believe women are irrelevant unless they are giving men boners or babies. Called “Babes for Trump,” the account features numerous photos of boobs and butts attached to presumably human women wearing or standing near American flags, hashtagged #MakeAmericaGreatAgain and #BabesForTrump. The Instagram account is currently down, but you get the picture:
— Babes For Trump (@BabesForTrump) March 31, 2016
The liberal media has expressed tepid anger at the imagery, noting that, on one hand women love being naked! So I guess that’s ok? But also, as Mic astutely pointed out, “Trump doesn’t exactly have the best reputation when it comes to respecting women.” A writer for Huffington Post expressed the same confused opinion in her piece:
“Of course, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with women showing their bodies. To the contrary, a woman’s right to exercise bodily autonomy, however she chooses to do that, is exactly why it’s so important for women to be involved in the political process. But the Babes For Trump account is uncomfortably reminiscent of their favorite presidential candidate’s sexist proclivity for ranking women based on their appearances.”
Are you all getting this? It’s not objectification that’s the problem… Or maybe it is? We definitely don’t like that women’s bodies are being used in this way, but we can’t say so because everything we’ve ever expressed in the past has been pro-pornification. I guess it’s bad when Trump is sexist, but not when our friends are…? Yes, yes. That must be it.
The four college bros who started the account told Vice that the idea was “to create an account that blended two of the hottest social media trends out right now — politics and sex appeal.” The young men told Vice they “hadn’t seen anything like it before,” which I guess means they haven’t been reading Vice.
Just last year, Vice enthusiastically covered “Sluts Against Harper,” a Canadian group that launched an Instagram-based campaign called “VOTES4NUDES,” which offered pornography in exchange for votes. Initially, the founder of the campaign offered blow jobs in exchange for votes, but decided pornography would be less controversial — and she was right! The campaign was widely embraced by progressive men and women alike, across Canada.
Back in lefty America, a fundraising campaign called “Spankings Against Banking” asked that Bernie Sanders supporters “bring cash and get spanked by a dominatrix.” Promotional images posted on Instagram mostly featured women’s body parts. Because, if anything says “socialism,” it’s the objectified ass of a young woman being slapped with wads of cash.
The uncomfortable reality that liberals and the left really don’t have a problem treating women as fuckable objects because they can claim those women chose to be objectified and let them choose their choice goddammit has made criticism of Babes For Trump awkward at best.
“Donald Trump has a long and storied history of equating a woman’s value with her looks,” Jessica Samakow wrote for Huffington Post. But wait! So do, um, most other men… And, in fact, so does our culture at-large… While I certainly agree that Donald Trump is a horrid, abusive, misogynist, that is not the reason objectification hurts women. You can’t have it both ways — you can’t say that it’s acceptable for leftist men to objectify women but not Trump supporters. Either you think sexism is bad or you don’t. And pushing the message that women’s primary value lies in their ability to give men boners is a sexist message. Period. Like, regardless of whether the man (or woman!) supporting that message is on the left or right of the political spectrum.
The men behind Babes For Trump explain that women voluntarily contribute photos to the account because “Women want to be desired; women want their voices heard.” Jessica Simps (not her real name), the woman behind Sluts Against Harper, also clarifies that “All the photos are made by the person in the photo, which we feel is important, because that way it’s not an exploitation of women’s bodies, but it’s us taking action and using our bodies as a resource.” She goes on to say, “If there’s anything that Stephen Harper doesn’t care about, it’s women and women’s bodies, that’s for sure.”
Well now, that’s not entirely true. If there’s one thing that’s clear in all this, it’s that right-wing men most certainly do care about women’s bodies — they care that, at the end of the day, women’s bodies are for men, which is exactly the message campaigns like “VOTES4NUDES,” “Spankings Against Banking,” and “Babes For Trump” relay.
So long as we live in a culture that tells us women’s best chance at visibility and some semblance of “power” lies in their desirability, women will continue to “choose” self-objectification. Because of this larger context, “choice” is not an acceptable defense for objectification. And if you’re going to tell leftist men that pornifying women is acceptable, you’re going to have to say the same thing when the right does it.
Depressing as it is, it’s also marginally amusing to see liberals twisting themselves in knots, trying to find reasons to object to the very same thing they’ve described as empowering only sentences earlier. What it reveals is that, when it comes to the “woman question,” the left and the right are on the same page.