Donald Trump is a piggish, unrepentant misogynist who has demonstrated that he thinks women are only as valuable as their physical appearance, a gutter perspective he made clear again when he called Stormy Daniels "horseface" on Twitter Tuesday. So why in the world would his opponents stoop to his level?
That's what rapper T.I. did recently in a music video clip he tweeted, in which a Melania Trump lookalike strips in the Oval Office, dancing for T.I.'s pleasure after the President leaves the White House. The point was to stick it to the President. But the means was the same tool the President uses: Misogyny.
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T.I.'s message is fairly straightforward: Women are extensions of men, and it is humiliating for a man to have "his" woman stripping for someone else. Sexually objectifying Melania is a shortcut way of demeaning both her and her husband.
That humiliation relies on the same tropes used by Trump: There are "good" women and "bad" women, and a woman being either sexual or insufficiently attractive puts her in the "bad" category; that if you want to demean a woman, paint her as either slutty or ugly.
There are a lot of ways to mock Trump that don't depend on the same sexist narratives that in a better world would have disgraced this presidency. The T.I. video isn't one of them.
But there are no sympathetic people in this story. Melania's spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, is now calling for a boycott of T.I.'s music, which is rich, given that Melania is married to a man who won the presidency on the toxic fumes of his shockingly misogynist campaign.
The idea that sexism becomes out of bounds only when it's directed at Melania (or Ivanka) is laughably hypocritical, and shows how little this administration and its enablers actually care about women -- sexism, for them, is a cudgel with which to criticize their detractors in a way they know liberals won't fight.
The fact is, you can't be simultaneously outraged at the T.I. video and still justify voting for a man who calls female journalists bimbos and dogs, attacks his female critics as fat and ugly and has bragged about sexually assaulting women (and is accused of doing just that). You can't pretend to be outraged at the objectification of and insult to a First Lady if you shrugged when Trump rallies were rife with "Trump That Bitch" paraphernalia, and when some in the Trump sexist and racist base, and their mouthpieces in right-wing media and politics, were attacking Michelle Obama by calling her fat, comparing her to a gorilla and calling her President Obama's "baby mama."
Trump's supporters say they love that he isn't "politically correct," that he's not afraid to use crass language when it fits and that he's a real man who treats women like most men with power and money would (a sad indictment of how some in his base view men).
Anyone who objects to the vulgarity, racism and sexism from him and his #MAGA fans is a snowflake who needs a safe space, they mock. But turn the tables and they are happy to jump on the outrage bus if it suits them politically. Melania is hardly an innocent bystander here. She is an adult woman who has stood with this administration and never uttered a single word of criticism -- let alone decided to leave her objectively awful husband.
The T.I. video is sexist and shameful. But if Melania's team and Trump administration supporters want to boycott the sexist and shameful, they need to start at home, with the man in the White House.