Y’all most of us were and still are disappointed about the election. After all, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. A majority of people in this country were with her. But the way the Electoral College is set up…
We’re all in our feelings, much like some White folks were in their feelings when President Obama was elected for the first time, back in 2008. Unlike 2008 though, we have legit reason to be scared. Still, the fear shouldn’t cause us to behave in the same ways Republicans and racists behaved from 2008-2016. You know what I’m talking about. Not only the ways in which they attacked President Obama for virtually nothing, but the unwarranted, sexist and racist criticisms his daughters and wife also endured.
And while I would like to think Democrats are above all of this, that’s not what I’m seeing on social media. People have been digging up pictures from Melania Trump’s modeling career. Pictures that show her partially or completely naked. It’s not the pictures that are the problem. It’s the captions that come along with them.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The comment sections of each of these posts is even worse. I completely understand the bitterness and resentment people feel because Michelle Obama was so heavily criticized for having her arms out. I haven’t seen much of that, outside of social media, being directed at Melania. I get that it’s not fair that Black people, and Black women particularly, are treated with such disgust and disdain for absolutely nothing while White men and even White women get to do whatever the hell they want and no one bats an eyelid. It’s not right. But attempting to shame Melania in turn is not the solution we need either.
People are posting her nude pictures and asking what we should tell our children? Well, first, I doubt that America’s children are on the internet googling Melania Trump’s modeling pictures. They, like many of us before this election cycle, not only don’t know a thing about her, they don’t care to. So they’re not googling her to discover she was a model or one who posed nude. These are grown folks who are doing that. But if these images keep being circulated around social media, I’m sure the kids will start following in our footsteps. And it won’t be on her and her past decisions, it will be on the people and publications who decided to make this a story, as if Melania’s a$$ and titties are the things we should be most concerned about these days.
Maybe it’s because I come from a Caribbean background where nudity is regarded as natural, not something to be ashamed of, that I don’t understand all the hoopla surrounding these pictures. I get it, many people don’t want their daughters to aspire to take their clothes off for money. And I understand that. But Melania’s decision to do so, is just that. Her decision. If pictures she took decades ago have more of a hold on your child’s thinking than you do, living in the house with them everyday, then again, there are bigger issues here.
If Melania’s pictures present a problem for people, it’ll be interesting to see which other women will be disqualified to hold public office. If Vanessa Williams’ husband decided to run for President or Williams herself, would we be mad about that? If Tyra Banks decided to take a shot at the White House, would we discount her because of those Sports Illustrated covers? Will Smith has hinted at being mildly interested in politics, would we slam and shame Jada as his First Lady because of that scene in Jason’s Lyric? I would certainly hope not.
At the end of the day, the focus on Melania’s nudity when we don’t know what the hell her husband is going to do as the leader of the free world is just another form of misogyny. Why are we digging through the archives looking for some way to blame the woman in his life, when she’s not the one who is going to be leading the country? This type of shaming and objectification of women is the same behavior we’ve been criticizing Donald Trump for perpetuating and here we are doing the very same thing because we’re devastated by the election results.
I know some people don’t want to hear about feminism right now. People want to choose petty over politeness and human decency. So if the anti misogynistic/ feminism argument doesn’t move you, think about Michelle Obama. Think about the way she was derided for her looks, for her facial expressions, for her arms, for her hair, for her race and ask yourself if you want to participate in that same type of foolishness.
I realize that when President Obama was elected, there weren’t all that many people telling us to unite, come together and respect the office and the man in it. And that’s a shame. Still, that doesn’t mean we have to behave in the same ways. If we’re disappointed in the hatred and ugliness we’ve seen in this country during this election cycle and the immediate aftermath of it, then we don’t have to participate in it. Express your grievances, your concerns, your disappointment and even your outrage. But posting pictures of Melania Trump naked has very little to do with the election. And it does absolutely nothing to make a bad situation any better.
Still, if these arguments haven’t been enough to persuade you, perhaps you’ll heed the words of a more respected Black woman’s voice, Alice Walker:
Our surprise, our shock, our anger, all of it points to how fast asleep we were.
This is not a lament. It is counsel. It is saying: We can awaken completely.
The best sign of which will be how we treat every being who crosses our path. For real change is personal. The change within ourselves expressed in our willingness to hear, and have patience with, the “other.” Together we move forward. Anger, the pointing of fingers, the wishing that everyone had done exactly as you did, none of that will help relieve our pain. We are here now. In this scary, and to some quite new and never imagined place. What do we do with our fear?
Do we turn on others, or toward others? Do we share our awakening, or only our despair?
The choice is ours.
If that doesn’t do it for you, remember our current First Lady’s words:
“When they go low, we go high.”