This smug, handgun-toting White Person is Tomi Lahren. I wanted to use an “ethical” representation of the rising media sensation–instead of a dank meme–so I used one she self-published to her Instagram account. Isn’t she just adorable?! The 24-year old ultraconservative pundit, and voice of the show, Tomi, on Glenn Beck’s cable network, TheBlaze, is old school Republican mentality heteronormatively wrapped into a young, boxed-blonde body. She likens her angry rants on controversial topics to her “fearlessness.” I hadn’t realized insular, partisan thought was the new fearless. In her particular case, it seems to be ignorance with a megaphone. But, hey, what do I know?
Her three-minute jeremiad’s or, as the segment is formally known as, “Finals Thoughts,” attacking liberals and labeling them as whiny, lazy babies is almost endearing in its glibness. Almost. Her hate-filled rhetoric garnering the attention of the alt-right (or neo-Nazis, or whatever the fuck you’re comfortable labeling them) is denigrating cogent, enlightened thought. She’s the media star lampooned as “white power Barbie.” Tomi’s violent parti pris in life is a benevolent interest to the good of the people, to progression. In all honesty, she’s the inverse. Sometimes I think we’re in the upside-down from Netflix’s hit show, Stranger Things. Because 2016 has been some strange shit.
An old friend of mine—who insists pink camo is the most fashion-forward accessory for a female—looks at this fumbling, ranting nuisance as an icon. Her Facebook wall is littered with posts idolizing Tomi Lahren and Donald Trump. She even has a picture, from several months ago, of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton hoisted up by strings, contorted and controlled by a human hand, but here’s the kicker: Donald Trump’s cutting his strings and giving American bureaucracy a big Fuck You. Apparently he’s not a puppet like seasoned politician Hillary Clinton. “He says it like it is,” and this say-it-like-it-is attitude is going to reform political corruption and turn America around. Or, as Donald Trump so infamously coined it, he’s going to “Make America Great Again.” My old friend views both, Tomi and Donald, as good feminist role models. HUH? Donald Trump says he can “grab [women] by the pussy” because he’s a “star,” and he can “do anything.” And Tomi has generalized all Millennial men as “soft.” Yet, she’s the one saying, “the feminist movement has become passive-aggressively anti-men.” The very act of calling men “soft” is anti-men. Using the word “soft” in the context of machismo is nescient, denigrative language.
Okay, so what is your brand of feminism?
Taken from her Facebook page: “It seems the feminists are all about female freedom of expression so long as the female is overweight or transgender.” This statement is also troubling. Compounding already marginalized groups–who already face day-to-day shame, internally and externally–by making crass comments is not an efficacious remedy for advancing feminist–whatever the fuck she deems feminism to be–goals, it’s a deplorable counter assault to people who don’t think like her. She elevates tactical aggression over substance, thusly further marginalizing the already marginalized. Her fits of rage are tailored to her audience; I’m afraid, enlightenment is not her path.
She’s also accused Beyoncé and the Black Lives Matter movement of pushing a “black lives matter more” agenda. She’s even gone as far as to compare the Black Lives Matter movement to the “new KKK.” So, if we’re going to make sweeping and inflammatory statements about social movements and their subsequent labels or identifiers, would the phrase “#bluelivesmatter” then mean that blue lives matter more? She’s attacked Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, for taking a knee during the National Anthem instead of standing. Apparently, his peaceful protest is sacrilegious to the American holiday of Monday Night Football. According to Tomi, “America should be coming together every day, but especially on game day.” So, is she angry about the way he’s protesting, or is she angry because he’s protesting on game day? Because apparently, game day is a sacrosanct holiday to White People who view people of color as athletes and nothing else. I must admit, I am not a sportster whatsoever, and for many reasons that I cannot break down in this blog, but I’ll say this: professional sport is for anti-intellectual, emotionally illiterate, raw machismo, institutionally racist, homophobic, misogynistic people. How twisted is our society that Colin Kaepernick is allowed to throw a football and generate wins for his team, but he’s not allowed to have an opinion? Standing, kneeling, or otherwise.
Many of her fans rejoice in her indignant rhetoric and congratulate her for “destroying” whatever unfortunate soul was the focal point of the week, but since when did our own personal political persuasion devolve into maiming others? If the point of discourse is solely based on perceived “wins,” then I’m afraid, you don’t understand life. But don’t just take my word for it, watch and listen to philosopher Daniel H. Cohen, who specializes in argumentation theory, elucidate “the real benefits of engaging in active disagreement.”
Donald Trump and Tomi Lahren’s rhetorical models are entrenched with a militaristic, “winner versus loser” dichotomy, but as you just heard, argument is not war. “Losing an argument,” or rather, achieving cognitive gain, is beneficial to one’s development. In essence, the “loser” is actually the winner. The only pleasure derived from “winning an argument” is an ego boost; you’re merely massaging your own insecurities with an argument-as-war attitude. Mental masturbation, if you will. Arguing is an important aspect of social technology, and denuding it to no more than a shouting match of perceived dominance is not only cognitively taxing, but it hamstrings didactic colloquy. Negotiation, compromise, and collaboration are key tenets of positive discourse, none of which Tomi and Donald practice. But it sure is heartwarming to see such antagonistic bullies patting each other on the back.
Anyway, back to my friend who thinks Tomi and Donald are Jesus resurrected. How could my friend be so obtuse? How could two seemingly similar women have such different, but equally polarizing views? I’ve been so closed-off in my liberal bubble that I had a hard time accepting the fact that a once very good friend of mine could revere, and hope that her daughter emulate, a woman who epitomizes, what I view as, the anti-feminist. But that was the exact problem: I was in a bubble. But what else can you expect from a “Facebook” culture: a culture that propels identity politics by cleverly designed algorithms that know just what you want to see and hear…and buy (but that’s a topic for another day). It’s digital confirmation bias.
Can you be a feminist when you view life through conservative coke-bottle glasses?
I’ve been very vocal about my anti-misogyny, feminist opinions for a while now, but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I started to get a glimpse of the whole picture (with much more to come, I’m sure). I’d expect that most of us are aware of hostile misogyny (overtly negative evaluations and stereotypes, such as the idea that women are inferior to men), but how many of us are aware of benevolent misogyny (evaluations that appear subjectively positive, such as the idea women need to be protected by men)? Benevolent misogyny is the much more implicit, and insidious counterpart to hostile misogyny. And together, they make up the whole: ambivalent sexism. And therein lies the problem: the tidy little circle of the Madonna-Whore Complex. For a more in-depth look at ambivalent sexism, refer to my previous post, “The politics of misogyny.”
While many women may not have an acute awareness of America’s ambivalent sexism syndrome, we all suffer the ramifications. Donald Trump’s actions—his tweets, his conventions, his rallies, his debates, his quotes, his very being—have captured attention from every corner of the country; summoning feelings of angst and resentment and fear, but also admiration and reverence.
Regardless of what political party you identify with, or what ideology you hold, Donald Trump’s misogyny has been iconic.
His blatant narcissism has fostered and propelled the spread of bigotry and hatred. This man will hold the highest office in the world. His moral compass will be the defining character of our nation, and somehow we’re all just supposed to ignore his narrow, intolerant dogma, and unite as a country and hold hands and sing Kumbaya? A key concept in bringing a deeply divided nation together is easy in theory, but not in practice: empathy. Every day, you see people—of mixed identity—come together to do things such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, or the latest trend, The Mannequin Challenge, but when was the last time you tried to understand a point of view that wasn’t your own? It takes conscience effort, but it’s pivotal for social, economic, and political development.
Shortly after the results of the election, the New York Times published an article, 6 Books to Help Understand Trump’s Win, and so far, I’ve purchased two of the six books: Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, by Arlie Russell Hochschild, and Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J.D. Vance. The others are waiting patiently for me in my Amazon cart. On a side note, I had already researched these books before the New York Times published their article, and before the election, all of the books were in stock at Amazon, but after the article was published, four of the six books were out of stock. So, maybe, it would seem, when empathy is assigned, liberals do their homework.
Obviously I know womens’ role as being subservient to America’s (well-established) patriarchy existed long before Donald Trump ran for president…and won, but he is the zeitgeist of this decade. Possibly even this century. I’m not here to dispute the (il)legitimacy of his eventual presidenthood; I’m here to advocate for women’s rights. Gender roles are a damaging social construct.
My blog project started out as an attempt to explore the world of digital dating, most specifically, Tinder. (Contrary to my sister’s belief that my blog is titled: “Tinder, it is,” as if it’s some sort of last resort in dating, it’s actually, “Tinderitis.” Like arthritis but for your Tinder swiping thumb). I’m intrigued by the Amazon Prime-esque convenience of date shopping: a right swipe, and minimal text conversation can lead to fornication. It’s that easy! But, anyhow, my ovaries went into hyper-drive, and my blog quickly morphed into misandry. Just kidding! I don’t hate men. I’ve come to realize that fighting for women’s rights is now synonymous with man-hating, and that has to stop. Men are just as much victims to gender roles as women are.
A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.
– Gloria Steinem
As I explored and reflected upon and shared my own recent sexual exploits, my topic evolved into the big, bad “F” word that has seemingly become naughtier than the “F” word I was taught as a kid NEVER TO SAY. Everyone seems to be so intimated by this word, but all it means is (definition borrowed from Merriam-Webster): the theory of political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. Who doesn’t want that?
Regardless of your opinion(s), now and forever, keep this rule in mind: Your opposition to oppression should be moral and immovable and not contingent upon whether someone is nice to you or agrees with you.