She’s slender, tall, flexible, beautiful, blonde, perpetually youthful, well-dressed, always coifed, always made up, and willing to drop everything including her own career at her man’s slightest whim. All the women want to be her and all the men want to be with her. She knows how to sit and how to smile and how to walk gracefully in a tight skirt and impossibly high heels. She’s silent with the air that she totally agrees with you even when you’re trying to insult her. Her lipstick is perfect, her teeth are white, and her nails are always flawless and manicured.
She always remembers to bring a nice dessert or expensive bottle of wine to the dinner party but … did you see her help herself to a serving or a glass? She’s got the high powered job and is admitted into the board rooms and halls of power but she also posts pictures of her adorable kids while she plays with them on the weekends wearing expensive lounge-wear and still with her perfect hair and face.
She does not express any emotions, you’re not sure of what her voice sounds like. She must have some sort of an education because she’ll send out beautifully penned Christmas cards of her perfect smiling family, but whether she has a high school diploma or a doctorate you just don’t know. She only seems to excel in the things that are appropriate for women. She plays dumb when the conversation drifts to science or law even though you can tell from the way her usually vacant eyes are flashing that she knows.
And in those board rooms and halls of power she is the obedient housewife though clad in her power-suit and perfectly put together. She will help turn the screws on people of colour and even women just like herself simply because by doing so she earns more accolades, money, and white male “love” for herself. She’s got hers and all she needs to do is smile in complacency and complicity as the rights of others are stripped away.
This woman is a lie.
From the outside looking in she and her life seem perfect. It’s not though. She’s made a Faustian bargain and she will pay not only with her own soul but with her children’s and the lives of all who are not white, male, and straight. This is why no matter how beautiful she might have been and no matter how expensive her clothes are or how much she spends on her hair she’s still repulsive. Her blighted soul seeps through all that makeup and peroxide and there she sits daintily crossing her legs at the ankle showing off the arch of her foot while all the while the corruption oozes out of that beauty pageant smile.
Her success is not her own and the moment that smile cracks or those breasts droop everything she has will be taken from her. She will be discarded. She will be called useless, old, ugly, unemployable, vapid, and unremarkable. Her husband will divorce her and cut her off and she’ll be dismissed as a dried up gold-digger. Alternatively she can hold on to her husband and stay in her expensive house but only if she turns a blind eye to his dalliances.
She is a tragedy.
She prostituted herself to the white supremacy and squandered her youth and any God-given skills, talents, and intelligence to protect the status of men who do not deserve her. And all she gets for it are pretty dresses and the constant reminder that her life is worthless.
This woman will call herself a feminist. She will be celebrated by other white supremacists as a feminist. When real feminists call her out for her racism, misogyny, and homophobia they will be called hypocrites. After all, she does have it all, doesn’t she?
She has the job, she has the money, she has the kids, she has the husband, the house, the status, the platform: for all intents and purposes she looks like a feminist. If feminism is about getting women into high status positions then she must be a feminist.
And yet, her words are not her own. She did not climb to her position, she did not earn it, she was placed there. And she can be removed.
This pathetic woman may even believe she is a feminist. But she always checks in with her keepers. The price of her position is not — as it would be for anyone else — hard work, grit, and determination; it is obedience. She is a zombie. Her mind and autonomy are removed from her and she does the bidding of her masters. Hers is not a position of power but of ultimate servitude. She is not an equal. She is a tool. And like a tool, once she is no longer useful she will be discarded.
The white supremacist woman who presents as feminist is a weapon designed by white supremacy to dismantle feminism. She has been socially lobotomized and exists to negate and counter the work of real feminists who through scholarship, inclusivity, and community threaten the oligarchy of the white man. The false feminist is how white supremacists dismiss women and people of colour.
How can we complain that a known serial rapist was put on the Supreme Court when one of the votes he received was from a woman? How can we complain about Donald Trump’s administration turning back the clock on women’s healthcare and maternity leave when his daughter Ivanka is leading the charge? How can we complain that marriage equality and the right to equal healthcare for over half the population are on the chopping block when it’s a female justice who might serve as the deciding vote to eliminate them?
The Republicans and other white supremacists will trot these women out in the ideological equivalent of bikinis as feminist icons even appropriating feminist language and imagery to do it.
A woman willing to tow the white supremacist line can get far with the backing of white supremacists. Ivanka Trump fancies herself the first female President of the United States. And just a few years before her own father ushered in a new age of celebrated bigotry and idiocy into conservative politics Sarah Palin was making thinly veiled racist overtures to the Republican base in the hopes that they would then make her the first female Vice President.
This is not feminism. It’s dressed up as feminism, but it is not the real thing. Putting a woman in a position of power and prestige has the appearance of feminism but it only rings true if that woman has autonomy.
Real feminism is not glamorous. It doesn’t post “inspirational” photos to Instagram or engage in performativity when real progress is at stake. Real feminism is older. Real feminism has grandbabies. Real feminism will eat chocolate ice cream without once forgetting that there’s more work to be done. Real feminism takes the high road when it can but is prepared for a fight. Real feminism is able to speak openly about menstruation and wants to preserve and increase civil and human rights for underserved, BIPOC, and trans individuals. Real feminism has been dirt poor and starving but when she stood up she swore to fight not just for herself but for all women and all people.
Real feminism has a voice of its own and will not have words put into its mouth. The Ivanka Trumps, the Amy Coney Barretts, and Phyllis Schlaflys of the world are not feminists. They are not icons. They are mindless mouthpieces who are useful only as long as they defuse, confuse, and deter real feminism. We don’t need them. We have even less use for them than the white supremacists who indoctrinated them.
Let them play their satirical roles. Let them humiliate and smile themselves into obsequious obscurity. We have real feminists who live to lift us all up.
Let me do Amy Coney Barrett one better. She says she’s Catholic. There’s a Jesuit principle of becoming a person for others. It’s radical love and empathy. Barrett, like Ivanka and Schlafly before her would never promote the things she does and tow the white supremacist line if she practiced Christlike radical love. She is not a real Catholic. She is not a real Christian. She does not follow the Abrahamic traditions.
But if you want to see someone who does, look to Nancy Pelosi, look to Kamala Harris, to Hillary Clinton, to Diane Feinstein and to the dearly departed Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Remember what Ginsberg did for us and what these other women have and yet will do for us and follow in their footsteps.
May her memory be a revolution.