Kellyanne Conway is a collaborator in the US’s disgrace. Feminists must criticise her actions – The Guardian

Posted: May 17, 2017 at 3:41 pm


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It is not anti-feminist to criticise Conway for her terrible, terrible decisions. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters

Morning talkshow hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski threw affably haunted Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway right under the bus this week, claiming that she told them off air that she finds her job repulsive and is doing it only for the money. This would be a fairly standard and innocuous attitude in the sphere of American capitalism (venting about the boss is the closest thing wage workers get to a bonus) if Conways job wasnt advising the president and doing it didnt mean lying ostentatiously to the American people to abet the destruction of their republic.

This is a woman, by the way, who came on our show during the campaign and would shill for Trump in extensive fashion … then she would get off the air, the camera would be turned off, the microphone would be taken off and she would say: Blech. I need to take a shower, Brzezinski said, glaring into the camera like a basilisk, as though daring Conway to come after her. Because she disliked her candidate so much.

Hoping to stay in the famously paranoid and loyalty-obsessed Trumps good graces, Conway will no doubt dispute Brzezinski and Scarboroughs account (although, from a PR standpoint, she may wish to reconsider the Kellyanne in Brzezinskis anecdote is the most relatable she has ever been). She may even declare the story sexist, a charge she also lobbed at CNN anchor Anderson Cooper last week when he rolled his eyes at some irrelevant bunkum. If true, however, the story fills in some satisfying blanks in the mystery of Conway, who has always seemed incongruously self-aware and coherent for a Trump appointee. She isnt a true believer. She is just a sellout.

Spend any time discussing gender inequality on the internet and you will soon discover that many people believe or pretend to believe for the sake of argument that feminism means no one is allowed to criticise any woman for any reason. If you suggest, for example, that Trump might not be a reliable protector of women, policy-wise, since he is an unrepentant violator of them, pussy-wise, some genius will counter that Ivanka Trump is a woman and she likes her dad just fine. Gotcha, feminists! What are you going to do contradict a woman?

Alternatively, say you argue that there is no road to gender equality without legal, accessible, unconditional abortion (and no version of feminism that doesnt fight for it). A man will pop out of the dumbwaiter to inform you that he once read an op-ed by a college student who said that she doesnt like abortion because embryos can grow fingernails at four minutes old or something, so isnt it actually more feminist to ban abortion and let a bunch of women die than to allow women legal and economic autonomy? After all, some woman hates it!

In recent history, this fallacy has caused particular consternation with regards to Conway and the other high-profile women who have supported Trumps presidency (not to mention the 53% of white women who helped vote him into office). Are Ivanka, Omarosa Manigault, Nikki Haley and Betsy DeVos emblematic of a new, conservative feminism one that abandons all of the parts of feminism that actually help women and replaces them with termites and straw? Think about it. They are women. Think about it.

No. The answer is no and it is OK to say so. It is OK for words to mean things. There is simply no such thing as conservative feminism it is a logical impossibility. Feminism is, by definition, an ideology of liberation; conservatism is an ideology of stasis. You cant dismantle traditional gender hierarchies and preserve them at the same time.

So, it is not anti-feminist to criticise Conway for her terrible, terrible decisions it is a feminist imperative. (It is anti-feminist to criticise her for her appearance, however, so stop.) As a major player in the Trump administration, Conway is an active and eager impediment to the equality and safety of women and girls, the enfranchisement of people of colour and the integrity of immigrant families. That she does so insincerely, as Brzezinski and Scarborough alleged, without even the excuse of real zealotry, is disgusting. She is selling you your healthcare, your retirement, your life for things. A boat, maybe. A summer in Europe, as Scarborough suggested. Tennis lessons. There have always been women willing to offer up other women for sacrifice as long as it buys them relative safety, or at least prolongs the illusion of it. Its safer in the zoo than in the wild.

Kellyanne, Ivanka, Betsy, Nikki, if you make the history books at all and I hope you do, and I hope the afterlife is real so you can stare up eternally at the shame of your descendants who change their names and never speak yours it will be as collaborators in your nations fall back into antebellum disgrace, as architects of the slow-motion extermination of the American poor, as profiteers who sold out your gender for a few gold toilets. Blech. Good luck showering that off.

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Kellyanne Conway is a collaborator in the US’s disgrace. Feminists must criticise her actions – The Guardian

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