There’s a meme that’s been making the internet rounds again, which is a shame. I thought we’d seen the last of it. Apparently not.
It exists in several forms, but the general gist is this: the meme contains pictures of several past first ladies, all looking very well dressed and proper, and then at the end is a picture of Melania Trump. Naked. And it makes me furious.
I am no fan of Melania Trump. Not even a little. I don’t like her politics or her plagiarism. I don’t like her Marie Antoinette outlook on life, and I’m not even kind of amused by the fact that she’s made “bullying” her core issue. It’s insulting. So, no. I don’t like who she is or what she stands for.
And yet, this stupid, insulting meme means I have to get up and defend her because regardless of all the above, I won’t stand for, endorse, or even pretend I don’t see slut shaming. Of any woman. Ever.
Knock it off.
What Melania, or any of the rest of us, do with our bodies is our business. She had photos taken. So what? I would care about the photos if she was not in control of the situation and they were taken without consent or under duress, or if others were involved against their will. Exploitation is not OK. Otherwise? Who cares?
And by the way, disapproving masses, who exactly do you imagine created the market for these (and a millennium of other) naked pictures? The public. If people didn’t want to see naked pictures, naked pictures wouldn’t be a thing.
“But, but, but, the hypocrisy!” cry my fellow left-wing progressives who are, to my shame, the ones I most often see spreading the meme. Sure, I hear you. The conservative Christian right went all into a lather over the exposed bare arms of a strong, powerful woman. But you know what? That was wrong. We knew it, and we said it. Good for us. Women have the right to bare arms.
You know what’s not cool? To try and make your argument by pointing out a “worse” woman as an example. That’s where the conversation jumps the rails.
Likewise, the comment section on those memes makes me fear for the future of our planet. Truly. Her name is Melania. Use it. Not only because calling her juvenile insult names rightly allows anyone supporting her policies to dismiss you as unworthy of conversation (though it does), but because when we see wrongdoing we are charged to call it by its name. When I speak out against the horrific statements made by our first lady, or her dubious associations to inhumane regimes, I want her to know I am speaking about her.
I ask you all to commit to this ideal. Refuse to tolerate a national move to hate and indifference. Hold the president and first lady accountable for acts of inhumanity.
Take issue with Melania Trump’s body of work, not her naked body.
Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.