Michelle Wolf Showed Us When It’s Okay For Women Not To Help Other Women
Being a citizen of the United States, in this particular era of the Trump administration, has forced me– and you– to face some uncomfortable truths.
Those truths are a laundry list of socio-economic-political issues. Immigration, abortion, gay marriage, healthcare, military, taxes, populism/nationalism, race relations, the police… all are up for heated, contentious, dangerous debate, because we’re not really agreeing on them as a country, while most citizens believe legislative change should be implemented in these areas.
Depending on whether or not you measure an issue’s importance by the volume of media coverage it receives (I do), it’s arguable that #MeToo and #TimesUp are the most important stories of our post-2016 presidential election world. Since I write The Twirl, and I’m a woman, #MeToo and #TimesUp have particular importance to me. (Why? Because #MeToo, obviously.)
A core tenet of #MeToo is to believe a woman who reports sexual harassment. Not only should we not be in the business of denying a woman’s lived experience (known as gaslighting), the thinking goes a little deeper here. As women, we should be supporting each other, shoring up the sisterhood, linking arms and taking knees in protest of the men who’ve robbed us of our careers, our bodily autonomy, our joy.
After all, it was Madeleine Albright who said “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” No pressure or anything, ladies! Not only are you holding down your career, pulling the second shift at home, and performing emotional labor for everyone in your family, you have to shoehorn “help other women” in there somewhere.
Which isn’t a bad sentiment! It sounds great on paper. But… what if you don’t particularly want to support a particular woman? What if her actions, work, and ideals drastically conflict with yours?
In case you missed it, comedian Michelle Wolf wiped the floor with the Trump administration and the press at last night’s White House Correspondent’s Dinner. Whether or not the WHCD, tagged #NerdProm on Twitter, should continue to exist or employ comedians as the headlining entertainment, is another conversation altogether. Basically, what you need to know is Wolf’s getting a ton of flak for going after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Here’s what Wolf had to say about Sanders:
I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful. Like, she burns facts, and then she uses the ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like, maybe she’s born with it; maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies.
Wolf spared no woman in the Trump administration. Ivanka Trump is “as helpful to women as an empty box of tampons”, and for Kellyanne Conway, asking “If a tree falls in the woods, how do we get Kellyanne under that tree?” (Just so Conway gets stuck, mind you, not hurt.)
Clearly, Michelle Wolf doesn’t fall in line with Madeleine Albright’s missive. Does it mean Wolf isn’t an ally of women?
I’m gonna go ahead and say no.
Whether or not you voted for Trump, extensive reporting exists on the number of lies told by our president and members of his administration. So much reporting that it would take years to link to it all. If you don’t believe the reporting I’ve linked to, because you think it’s liberal mainstream media and fake news, because the president said so? Then I’m not sure how you ended up reading this, but here we are! Let’s suspend that disbelief for a second, cool?
So, Michelle Wolf was right. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kellyanne Conwayhave lied to the American public many, many times. (See: Rob Porter, the size of Trump’s inauguration crowds, and the general daily shitshow known as the news cycle.) I don’t know about you, but I doubt Madeleine Albright would want us women to help other women known for lying?
Here’s the thing. Comedy and journalism share the same goal, which is speaking truth to power. Holding those in power accountable is vital to the health of a democracy. And that’s precisely what Michelle Wolf did last night, and I support her wholeheartedly.
To borrow a line from her: “I gotta get the fuck out of here. Good night. Flint still doesn’t have clean water!”
“If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.” ― Anne Lamott
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Lisette Voytko is an independent journalist living in Brooklyn, NY. Her byline has appeared in Thrillist, xoJane, Bitch Flicks, The Video Game History Foundation, and Brokelyn, among others. Follow her at @lisettevoytko on Twitter.