May 25, 2019 | 69° F

VACCHIANO: Radical feminists treat conservative women hypocritically

Opinions Column: Tory Time

The conservative woman is an enigma that radical feminists like to pretend does not exist — but when they do, many radical feminists make the same gender-based attacks against these women that they accuse the patriarchy of doing. With conservative women, we have a group that is considered a traitor to its sex because it wants to preserve the customs and institutions that society has while shrinking the size of a government due to recognition that superfluous investment in social services does not equate to a happier society. And because conservative women have these "horrid, oppressive beliefs," modern feminists find it acceptable to attack them in the sexist ways that they usually complain about, particularly by targeting them for being women and using their femininity against them.

For example, Kellyanne Conway wore an unusual outfit to the presidential inauguration last January. Conway, a conservative woman who worked on President Donald J. Trump’s campaign and now advises for him, saw the outfit as a way to express herself that particular morning. As a response, Jezebel published an article called “Haha What the F*ck is Kellyanne Conway Wearing” which essentially made fun of Conway for her fashion choice. But Jezebel is also a publication that complains every year about how actresses are asked “sexist” questions about their dresses on the red carpet of the Academy Awards, because such questions place emphasis on how a woman looks. Asking a woman who designed her dress, feminists argue, is sexist. Jezebel even noted that “asking women about fashion is designed to reduce women to fabric, jewelry and manicures — a kind of lesson in objecthood.” But they find it acceptable to “objectify” Conway and reduce her to “fabric, jewelry and manicures” by focusing on what she wears and mocking her for it because she’s a conservative. In the real world, is asking women about what dress they wear oppressive and objectifying? Of course not, but claiming that one woman is oppressed because there’s a hyperfocus on her dress while being complicit in mocking another woman because of her dress is hypocritical.

More disgustingly is the treatment of Melania Trump. Earlier this year, pictures emerged where Melania Trump appeared unusually sad to the point of possible emotional distress, and another in which her face dropped at the presidential inauguration after speaking to her husband. In response, Medium published a condescending article called “Melania, Are You Okay?” and the First Lady was mocked over social media for being a possible victim of domestic abuse. The internet found it hilarious because she’s married to a Republican. If Melania actually were a victim of domestic abuse, it would have been horrible and very misogynistic for the media to make fun of her for it.

Yesterday, there was intense media scrutiny over Melania Trump’s White House portrait, in which she crosses her arms. Wild. The Boston Globe’s headline asked, “So what’s with the crossed arms?” while former President Barack Obama had his arms crossed in one of his presidential portraits, as did John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln and Joe Biden in his vice presidential portrait. But for some reason, it was significant that Melania had done the same. In reality, this was just an attempt on the media’s behalf to criticize Melania by underhandedly focusing on her appearance. Feminists argue that to focus on a woman in this way and subject her to this type of gender-based attention is sexist. If Melania weren’t married to a Republican president, the media would be outraged. Every single feminist publication in existence would be calling misogyny on whoever dared question what a woman does with her own arms. They would be asking why we focus on appearance over accomplishments and would be blaming the patriarchy for this arbitrary focus on a woman’s looks. But all of these criticisms disappear the moment a conservative woman is subject to same type of gender-based criticism.

Conservative women, like everyone else, should not be shielded from constructive criticism of their beliefs. Our society best functions when there is political debate and discourse, but this discourse is negatively impacted when there's an abundance of hypocrisy. Modern feminists who truly care about advancing the status of women in society should be able to engage in debates about policy rather than make below-the-belt attacks against women who disagree with them. Disagreeing with conservative women is one thing, but being hypocritical and making the same gender-based attacks they accuse the patriarchy of doing is wrong.

Andrea Vacchiano is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore double-majoring in history and political science. Her column, "Tory Time," runs on alternate Fridays.

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Andrea Vacchiano

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