Progressives and conservatives alike agree: women’s politics are best expressed naked

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

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.

Image/Jessica Simps
Image/Jessica Simps

 

Image/Jessica Simps, founder of "Sluts Against Harper"
Image/Jessica Simps, founder of “Sluts Against Harper”

 

Image/Jessica Simps, founder of "Sluts Against Harper"

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.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • oneclickboedicea

    Sexist women using their bodies to promote sexism … such a sad twitter feed.

  • lagattamontral

    Please don’t use “liberal” as a synonym for “progressive”. That is USAmerican.

    Bernie hasn’t aired any sexist ads as far as I know. If there are Bernie bros who have, I’d suggest advising his campaign. (I’m not American, and have no idea whether I could vote for anyone in the disgusting imperialist Democratic Party if I were).

    There are certainly leftwing men who objectify women, but all I know in that respect about Bernie is that he did NOT dump his spouse due to menopausal weight gain.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Well, I’m talking about the US and Canada, hence the alternating between ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive.’ The woman who ran the VOTES4NUDES campaign voted NDP and I don’t doubt that many of her ‘fans’ did as well…

    • Karen Eisen

      you know, the fact that Sanders did NOT dump his spouse due to menopausal weight gain… that’s a good point
      But Jane Sanders is part of Bernie’s campaign, and she says she is against affirmative action and “gender voting” because women already have equality (the Democrats generally support affirmative action, but Jane doesn’t)
      Jane believes in equal treatment, not in affirmative action
      Sanders supporters are sexually harassing women by calling them “vagina voters” (and that is sexual harassment)
      it’s not that Sanders is bad, it’s just that sexism is deeply rooted in all of society
      the Sanders campaign is trying to de-legitimatize the first SERIOUS female presidential candidate, the first one with a good chance of winning / is it any different from Donald Trump and Republicans, who tried to de-legitimatize the first African American president, by saying he wasn’t born in the United States

  • Lucia Lola

    I’m going to laugh. It was my first reaction reading this, and I’m going with it. Ridiculous morons.

  • radwonka

    Yep, “ethical” or “progressive” objectification is an oxymoron. And it’s a also a joke, because it’s not like leftists care about the political opinions of women, they just want them to be objectified… So yea, it’s funny to see them talking about Trump’s misogyny when they think that objectification is not misogynistic.

    Leftists and libfem being useless and having no consistency, as usual.

  • some boring prude

    Conservatives want women to stay in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. Women should remain virginal until she marries one man and becomes his personal property for life.

    Progressives want women to be “liberated” to happily be sex objects, free-of-charge strippers and prostitutes. Women should be public property, free to use and exploit by any man.

    It’s a free choice, except only options for women are either a Madonna or a Whore. And somehow the mainstream feminism has bought into the idea that Whore is what women should aim for.

    The same people who called 50 Shades of Grey sexist, push every day the idea that being hurt and degraded sexually is empowering for women. And liberal men have no more respect for our humanity than your average Trump voter does.

  • soyouretheone

    Brilliant! When pro Obama people called Palin a “c*nt” and proliferating that bikini photo, didn’t see any progressives standing up coming to mind. And this: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/lifestyle/2015/12/02/shamed-spanish-politician-poses-nude-in-attempt-to-clear-name/ can we stop this now…

  • corvid

    When this bullshit comes from the left, it’s almost more painful. Liberals: please stop pretending to care about women’s rights when you clearly don’t have a clue.

    I was basically laughed off social media for protesting having to look at sexualized naked women’s bodies that popped up on my news feed. I don’t pretend to speak for everyone, but my argument was, and still is, that if liberals truly cared about sexual “consent” they would consider the consent or non-consent of the viewer too. In real life, you ASK me if I want to see you naked before you take off your clothes in front of me. Anything else would be awkward for obvious reasons and would likely be termed “sexual harassment.” Why do the rules suddenly change on the Internet? Why does empathy disappear and why does “consent” only matter when objectified women are saying “yes”? I have not had a sufficient answer to this yet. The answer I have been given is “Sorry prude, there is literally no way you can avoid seeing naked women anywhere on the Internet.” Okay then. Go fuck yourselves Facebookers (which you love to do anyway, so win-win.)

    To all those who think “freeing the nipple” is an actual social justice cause, get some real politics.

  • lk

    Is there a hotdudesfortrump or a hotguysforbernie twitter or Instagram page? Where are all the men choosing to let their voices be heard through sexy internet pics? I wonder why more men aren’t choosing sexy internet pics of themselves to share their political views….

    Some posts from the babesfortrump twitter page:

    “Let’s just be clear with one thing. If we were sexist we wouldn’t be trying to help these women get their voices heard.”

    How nice of these men to help women get their voices heard! Where would women be without men who give us the platform to show our tits/*ss/panties on the internet? I bet you a million dollars that these guys consider themselves feminist…

    “If you attack the picture. You’re attacking the woman who sent it in who chose to take a risk and
    voice her political ideology.”

    Can people please learn the different between critique and attacking? Please!

    “So who’s the real sexist or bully? The person posting the picture, or the one who is attacking a scantly clad woman on her political views?”

    Did y’all hear that? We are sexist and bullies for questioning the culture we live in. WE are the problem!!

  • Alienigena

    I think that many people who describe themselves as liberals are really libertarians. There are many left-leaning libertarians. They vote NDP (in Canada) in good conscience. I don’t think that any kind of libertarianism including left-leaning libertarianism is compatible with socialism or social democratic movements. But these left-leaning libertarians don’t seem to see their libertarianism as incompatible with socialism.

    http://studentsforliberty.org/blog/2014/08/26/what-is-left-libertarianism/

  • corvid

    Oh yeah it was definitely mansplained to me that I was getting in the way of “celebrating” the “human body.” Like what kind of horrible person could possibly object to CELEBRATING “the female figure”? It’s like sit down, shut up and let us CELEBRATE you, women. I no longer have the time or energy to engage with that level of gaslighting.

  • Roseanna Danza

    ^^ Cassandra’s Hundred-Million-Dollar Question. It’s a good one.

  • marv

    “I used to think left-wing/liberal males were allies of women because they usually support things like access to abortion/birth control…”

    The motives for backing these issues are mostly self-interest. Men want to fuck women without having to experience the unwanted consequences themselves.

  • Tobysgirl

    Bernie is not a socialist. Socialism includes opposition to capitalism and militarism, both of which Sanders supports (never met a military expenditure he didn’t like). He shouldn’t be tarred with the porn brush, but no one should have the illusion that Sanders is a socialist.