When a feminist sees a conservative woman who has attain a level of prominence and may have also been the victim of sexual harassment or name-calling, what is the proper reaction?
According to Elle magazine, that’s easy: a woman’s “victimhood is mostly erased” if she’s a conservative.
In “How Do We Criticize Problematic Women?”, Sandy Doyle argues that the “harm” done by conservative women in the public eye by their attitudes and policies far outweighs any consideration that they may have been mistreated.
Doyle specifically talks about Megyn Kelly, Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway and British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Doyle notes that Kelly claims she was sexually harassed while working at Fox News. No matter:
When we saw Kelly primarily as a victim, she was framed as a blameless heroine, and her actual and ignominious track record was overlooked. When we see Kelly now as primarily a conservative propagandist—which is what she is and always has been—that victimhood is mostly erased. The truth is I, too, would have loved to watch Kelly's feminist awakening. But that hasn't happened, and a woman can of course be problematic and be a victim of sexism. Both lionizing Kelly and dismissing her abuse are ways to avoid this central truth.
In fact, Kelly is part of a flotilla of unsympathetic ladies who have been thrust into prominence during the Trump administration. There's the Instagram feminism and message-tested complicity of Ivanka Trump—who is often cast as a spoiled bimbo, rather than the canny and ethically bankrupt opportunist she appears to be. There's Melania, a long-time apologist for her husband's birtherism. There's Kellyanne Conway, and the Internet's brief yet fraught debate about what feminism owes her.
Doyle concludes that “we should not weep for Theresa May or any other conservative woman whose policies contribute to the continued oppression of women and minorities. Even the most moon-eyed believer in feminist sisterhood must realize it's all got to stop somewhere. Any harm done to Kellyanne Conway by calling her ‘Skeletor’ is vastly outweighed by the harm Conway has done, and intends to do, to the American people. And by the way, it's no coincidence that all of these women are white—they've been given leeway to screw up and court public disapproval in ways that a woman of color would never be afforded.”
So much for the sisterhood.
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