On Monday morning, Emily Ratajkowski, whom you probably know from her performances in Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” music video or Gone Girl, came to the defense of First Lady Melania Trump when a New York Times journalist Ratajkowski refused to name allegedly called Trump a “hooker.”
In a series of three tweets, Ratajkowski said: “Sat next to a journalist from the NYT last night who told me ‘Melania is a hooker.’ Whatever your politics it’s crucial to call this out for what it is: slut shaming. I don’t care about her nudes or sexual history and no one should. Gender specific attacks are disgusting sexist bullshit.”
As a famous model, Ratajkowski has obviously, and very unfortunately, been the victim of plenty of sexist vitriol over the years and is understandably defensive of those who are also subjected to this. She makes the fair point that “gender specific attacks” are never acceptable. As is the case for women like Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, and many more public figures, Melania Trump shouldn’t be criticized on the basis of her sultry history.
There’s nothing wrong with nude photos, or frankly any consensual sex work (which of course isn’t to say that Trump was ever directly involved with sex work, a matter of highly irrelevant debate). But there’s plenty wrong with either ignoring or condoning your spouse’s bigotry and misogyny, doing nothing with your privilege to help those being persecuted, staunchly refusing to educate yourself, and, of course, costing Americans millions in tax dollars to live wherever you want, all while refusing to do your job as first lady and oversee White House tours.
Melania Trump should be criticized, alright, and her gender does not in any way immunize her from the innumerable valid criticisms to be made of her. As women and feminists, we can all sympathize with her being subjected to the sexist, disgusting, and inexcusable attacks we’re all, as women, familiar with. But simultaneously, as women and feminists, we must continue to call her out for her irresponsible and compassionless application of her privilege.
The real message here is that there is no justifying sexist attacks. But we must note that criticizing women with valid reasoning isn’t inherently sexist, and women, like Kellyanne Conway, Ivanka Trump, and many of President Donald Trump’s female staffers, can perpetuate sexism just as shamefully as men.