In case you haven’t heard, conservative political commentator Tomi Lahren was ‘permanently banned’ (read: fired) from her job at The Blaze for — of all things — voicing her honest opinion about abortion on The View. The irony is not lost on any of us that the conservative millennial media darling’s fall from grace was that she came out as pro-choice, and for conservatives that meant that she was no longer trustworthy or truthful.
And Tomi’s firing has led to a Sophie’s Choice for some feminists who are now asking themselves and others, “Should we, as ‘good’ feminists, (now) be supportive of Tomi?” Tomi, of course, is not the first female ‘celebrity’ figure to cause feminists to ponder questions of inclusivity.
When Kellyanne Conway became an overnight success in the male dominated world of politics, she did make herstory after all being the first woman to run a successful presidential campaign — feminists began to ask each other, well, what do we do with that? Does this shattered glass ceiling make Kellyanne a feminist hero? Did she really deserve the sexist comment of “kind of a familiar there in that position” from Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana when a photo of her sitting on her knees in the Oval Office went viral? No, she did not.
When the huge retailing giants, Nordstroms and T.J. Maxx, dropped all of Ivanka’s lines (the stores claimed low retails sales, Trump supporters — and Trump himself — cried foul), feminists began to ask each other is it right to boycott a woman for the sins (and stupidity) of a man—especially if that man is her father?
I am incredibly proud to support the signing of two bills today: H.R. 321 and H.R. 255. I am thankful for my father’s commitment to enhancing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) education opportunities and entrepreneurial programs for women and girls. Closing the gender gap in STEM fields is essential to both innovation and workforce development. I look forward to working alongside my father to champion the economic empowerment of women and girls and encouraging gender diversity in STEM fields is critical to that mission. #STEM #ClosingTheGenderGap #WomenInSTEM
Which brings us back to Tomi.
I’ll admit it — these are tough questions and decisions feminists have to make…and when I say that I mean for White feminists to make. Because these kinds of esoteric questions are a luxury that most feminist of color cannot afford. And even if we could, we’re not sure we’d want to. Because for women of color our support of these women isn’t even a question to begin with.
We know that just because Tomi has had ONE run in with ‘inequality’ that it doesn’t make her ‘ONE of us’ now. Her ONE moment doesn’t absolve her of the damage her voice has already caused to our communities. One brush with discrimination isn’t your entrance fee to the sisterhood of inclusion.
Unlike the White feminist movement, there’s little time for us to participate in feminist navel-gazing and ask questions of whether or not we should support these and other ‘deplorable’ women when our very lives and livelihoods are at risk. What’s more, we are not inclined to entertain this idea of whether conservative, anti-feminist White women deserve our support when we are still waiting on answers about how we will be supported by our so-called allies. We’re still waiting for Libby Chamberlain, the founder of Facebook’s Pantsuit Nation, to address the very real issue of turning other people’s pain, fear and grief into a lucrative book deal. We’re still waiting for Lena Dunham to address why, if she is so radically feminist, Girls didn’t include more women (or anyone) of color. When will Susan Sarandon be made to answer for why she bartered away our sacred rights and safety for her ill-informed ideology?
But if you’re still wondering whether or not we, as feminist, should support Ivanka, Kellyanne, and Tomi, here are some definitive answers:
Should we support Ivanka? Not even a little. She’s worth $300 million, even with her ripoff brands getting the boot while most of us are sitting here just trying to figure out how to make enough money at our job(s) to support our family.
Should we support Tomi? Hell no, she’s got enough support already. 4,203,558 fans to be exact, many of whom have rushed to her Facebook page and offered their full support, even though they don’t agree with abortion. Meanwhile, isn’t she and her 4.2 milli minions still trying to #BoycottBeyonce over natural hair, Black power and her husband’s teenage misdemeanors?
Should we support Kellyanne? Fuck no. And by that I mean if you’re asking this question your privilege is showing. Bigly.
And lastly, and most importantly, none of these women support us. Sure, Ivanka is there for the perfect photo-op, but where is she on discussions about women’s access to health care, our rights to our own body, and equal pay for equal work? Don’t even get started on Kellyanne . . . so again that leaves us at Tomi, a woman who has compared the Black Lives Matter movement to the KKK. And speaking of sexually explicit and inappropriate comments, remember when Tomi replied to Hillary Clinton’s views on women’s issues with this gem: “The only thing I get on my knees to do is pray.” Yes, woman-on-woman sexual harassment happens too.
So instead of wondering if all of the above deserve our support, let me educate you — no question mark needed — on who does. Our trans sisters of color because EIGHT have already been killed in 2017 — and we are only 3 months into the year. Our Indigenous brothers, sisters, and two-spirits on Standing Rock who are literally about to have the earth (once again) ripped out from underneath their feet at the hands of White politics. Our immigrant brothers and sisters being deported, even killed, for no other reason than trying to live ‘the American Dream’ in a Trumped-Up America.
The reality is, it’s not a question of who we should or should not be supporting, it’s the fact that in order to create real and lasting change, we must support each other. But in order to do that, we need support and sincere change from those women — Tomi, Ivanka, and Kellyanne among others — that have a long history of doing more harm to us than good.
Brandi Amara Skyy is an award-winning drag artist and writer. Find out more about her and her latest projects at brandiamaraskyy.com.