Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s recent tweet about Hope Hicks really struck a nerve with me. As a woman, I am finding it difficult to try and remain optimistic in the idea that women all want the same thing- equality. And in order to get that, we have to remain united in sisterhood. Which means, we need a little consistency.
Yet, to my dismay, although I think the majority of us want all women to be heard, respected, and treated equally (as men?); insta-reactions make it hard to be convinced of that. When it comes time to edify or support a woman for “the other side” suddenly that sisterly solidarity breaks the line.
What is it about feminism that should be taken seriously if, in the midst of our spotlight platforms, when given the choice between lifting a sister up or shoving her down; party alliances grant justification for the latter? Hey ladies, can we have a little consistency, please?!
When it comes down to sister solidarity- it only exists so long as she agrees with you and promotes your side, isn’t that right? So, what kind of message does that send to the men that we want to be treated equally as?
Sisters who side with the patriarchal patents- this cliché device used for millennia- to pit women against women as to keep the focus off of men; are not better than the men that say “women belong in the kitchen”. Because when we defer to such primitive attacks and competitive nature, we essentially succeed at dehumanizing our sisters.
Treat Her Equally
What is it that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez meant when she proclaimed: “Treat her equally”? Treat her as equally as we treat men when they seem to go against the grain? Treat her as equally as whom? I hope she means treat her as we would want others to treat us.
If AOC ever answers that question of mine, I will be sure to let you all know, but until then, allow me to infer.
The Right used Dr. Christine Blasey Ford; the Left now using Hope Hicks as their target girl; giving Melania and Ivanka Trump a bit of reprieve for now. We have to have a “fall-girl” to attack, insult, hate, and condescend. No matter which social issue we face, there will always be women pitted against women in an epic battle to highlight which side can be more dehumanizing of the woman than the other.
It. Happens. Every. Time.
I get it, when it’s a powerful, white woman, we have to crush her because she probably stepped on a few black women’s hands to climb to the top- or so the general consensus assumes. And vice-versa; if it is a prominent black woman, she “probably played the race card to get where she is at”.
We also have to point out the obvious media narratives. Hope Hicks is a pretty woman by societal standards. So, we defer to jocular rhetoric and find ways to “destroy” her image.
Apparently, in order for a woman to be validated for her success; we must look at and highlight all of her faults and recreate a persona for her, so that we feel better about tearing down another woman- just like the patriarchy prescribed for all of us to do. [See Simone de Beauvoir for more information on how that all worked out.]
Women: so hungry for attention and validation that, in an effort to receive it, we slap our sisters around and act like it’s justifiable for us to do it. But hell hath no fury if a man dares to do it? Oh, wait, no- we allow that, so long as the men are only castigating the same women we are in opposition to. If we like her, then that man has no business saying anything negative, lest he be labeled sexist, misogynist, or worse!
What are we demonstrating? We go from seeing the urgency in sisterly solidarity in the wake of the Alabama abortion ban to throwing more women under the bus, because [fill in reason here]. I can’t take us seriously anymore, so I would not be surprised if men are not taking us seriously, either. Shit like this really does showcase our ever-changing moods- if I’m being honest (which I do try to do).
“Not Very Pro-Woman”
Then we face downright silliness. Kelly Anne Conway insisting that how Nancy Pelosi treated her was not “very pro-woman”. We have misconstrued the idea of sisterhood so much that our sisters don’t even know the difference between what is and is not “pro woman”.
That’s a whole new conversation that is necessary. Briefly, our sisters on both sides of the political spectrum need a Feminism 101 class along with an introduction to understanding key terms and definitions. We throw that term “sexism” around too conveniently without fully understanding how it contradicts the context of most applications.
Pelosi preferring to speak directly to the President instead of Conway is not a portrayal of an anti-woman demonstration. It is a portrayal of how the chain of command operates. I have no doubts that Pelosi would have shunned any lower-level management from trying to intercede on behalf of the President, no matter the gender identification.
Women Who Are Anti-Women
But herein lies the problem. If a woman goes against another woman in an event like this, does that automatically mean she is anti-woman? If AOC attacks the dramatic style of the NYT’s publication, does that mean she is inconsistent? No, not at all. That’s not what this is about.
My problem is with the final statement of AOC’s goading tweet- the statement pertaining to Ms. Hope Hicks directly, that asks us to “treat her equally.” I worry about what kind of impact that leaves on impressionable followers of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez. I mean, after all, we do know that no matter how nuanced or subtle a statement is, it can always be taken out of context or pushed to the extreme.Take, for instance, the treatment of Sarah Huckabee Sanders: from random attacks on her physical appearance, a comedic performance dedicated to calling her a “traitor of her own gender”, and media representation imploring others to choke, harass, and stalk Sanders; all to spite her and her position for the Trump administration.
Is that how we should treat Hope Hicks? Is that “equally”?
I do realize that Sarah Huckabee Sanders is not free from equally offensive remarks and heaping of shame on others. I insist both are sides are equally wretched when it comes to shaming others. All women all over the spectrum are either victim or victimizer (sometimes both, over the course of their lives) and to suggest either Red or Blue is more responsible is just plain irrelevant.
I thought we had empathy for all women- equally. Is that not how it works? I don’t want to see any of my sisters shamed. Even if they are up to no good. Shaming somebody isn’t going to remedy such a problem. And as a fellow sister, one who has been guilty of shaming other sisters as much as I have been the receiver of such shames; I can say that shame isn’t the way to go.
The dark side of such empathy is this “side-taking”; it splits the sisterhood down the political line and that, my sisters, is where I must part ways with such antics. I have mentioned earlier, based on the work of Fritz Breithaupt, the dark sides of empathy can lead to seeing things in black and white. It can be very divisive.
Anything that divides sisterhood needs to be heavily scrutinized. History has demonstrated how the division of women only perpetuates oppression. If all sisters are not equally defended and lifted, none of us will ever truly rise.
Even when I am outraged at a woman, the last thing I want for her is to see her fall. The last thing I want is for another man to look down at her and say “See, this is why you belong in the kitchen, you can’t take the real world.” Never mind the feminine aspect of it- why do you want to see anyone fall down and receive backlash? Feminism is about edification, not condemnation.
Sisters, we look like children fighting over nonsense with the added bonus of jealousy: “Look at how glammed up she is in that photo”. Let me ask this: who wouldn’t want to make sure they looking fresh and clean when they know their name and face are going to be splashed all over the media?
AOC- remember the black suit controversy? What about that spread for Interview magazine? My, how the times have changed and suddenly, it seems to be acceptable to launch an attack based on aesthetics.
How did AOC feel when the Right gave her a hard time about her expensive dress on the cover shot? And now, she is going to throw that same bull at Hope Hicks? Soledad O’Brien weighed in on the controversy of Hope Hicks and the audacity of her image:
A picture of a person considering not complying with a subpoena is basically a glam shot…
While I agree with her initial assertion of the way the media depicts obvious bias when it comes to the accused; Hope Hicks was not arrested, she was subpoenaed. She’s a former PR rep. This woman knows how to play the optics. She’s also a model. Are we model-shaming? Or are we shaming her for being clever enough to form her own narrative, considering what she’s up against?
** I am well aware of how Hicks is involved with other sensitive issues and I am not disregarding the potentiality of her participation.**
The Optics of the Outfit
Have you ever appeared in court? I have had more than my fair share of court appearances- both as a defendant and as support. I sure like to make a good impression in court- so I always pick out something elegant, sophisticated, and I make sure my hair and make-up look good. Isn’t that the normative behavior that most of us conform to? Or better yet, those of us that have the privilege and opportunity to do so?
Have you ever had an interview of any sort? I have. I dress to impress. Even if that means I conform temporarily. Let’s not get into shaming women for wearing make-up and gettin’ their hair did. Just. Don’t.
We all know how the optics plays out, especially in politics. So, I think harping on one woman for the way she presents herself to the public eye while ignoring your own history with such similar insults seems a bit inconsistent. Shouldn’t we learn from our past and when we see another woman going through something relatively similar to something we have already experienced; choose to empathize with her instead of heaping more shame on her?
Let’s be consistent. Let’s edify and support women. If we want to criticize their behavior, let’s leave their appearances out of it. Let’s not make it a physical grievance. Let’s not make it a contest to see which women can “destroy” this woman or that woman, with some “epic” tweet.
I am going to remain hopeful that the suggestion we treat Hope Hicks (and any woman for that matter) “equally” should mirror not only how AOC wants to be treated, but how all women want to be treated. With respect.