It was suggested this week that Melania and Ivanka Trump were a symbol of feminine power. Do me a favour
The first overseas tour of Americas first family has provided journalists, internet wags and those convinced that the end of the world is nigh with rich material for discussion and comment.
As Donald Trump doubles down investing the members of his own family with political office, the optics of his transitioning democracy to a feudal aristocracy have played out before the worlds media with aesthetics hovering dangerously close to the concluding episodes of the Dynasty franchise. You know, when main characters were abducted by aliens.
Those asking Could it get any weirder? after Trumps gripping-the-orb moment in Saudi Arabia have had their answer, it is no: weird is the new normal. Theres the airport red carpet slapdown of Trump by his own wife. A man with access to a nuclear arsenal whos ignorant that Israel is, actually, in the Middle East.
There are the diplomatic meetings delegated to a department store fashion designer. Enthusiastic, postcard-style greetings left in the guestbook of a Holocaust museum. The president accidentally confirming he exposed Israeli secrets to the Russians. The president letting his old mate Rodrigo Rape Jokes Duterte of the Philippines casually know the location of some nuclear submarines.
This is just Trumps carnival abroad. Americas Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus shut its doors this week and its not hard to see why. What kind of circus can possibly compete with a sacked James Comey, Michael Flynns refusal to testify and Wednesdays revelation that during the election Russians were feeding fake documents about Trumps opponent Hillary Clinton to the FBI?
The measured tones, notorious caution and dignified meetings of Trumps predecessor, Barack Obama, do have a legacy, but its only in comparative memes on the internet. Visual representations of an American president who heavily comprehends his geopolitical responsibility seem as distant from present circumstances as an architectural map of Atlantis.
Observe the difference between Pope Francis positive engagement with the former president and his dour reticence to even speak to the grinning successor. If any institution on earth knows about a) nepotism and b) sex scandals, its the Vatican, and yet photographs reveal not even the popes legendary capacity for forgiveness can extend to the clan of pussy-grab-enablers descending on his home in mantillas. The popes official gift to the climate-change-denying Trump? His papal encyclical on climate change. What deep water western civilisation is truly in when the pope the pope is actively trolling the president of the United States.
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Do the wild outfits, set pieces and intense facial emotions attest that this is cabaret of the Von Trump Family on tour, and, if so, when oh when will they please burst into song? What will they sing?
In response to the photo of the Trumps, veils and pope alone, the internet has alternatively suggested that while the new season of The Sopranos looks terrible, introducing a reality TV dimension to The Omen reboot renders that franchise truly terrifying.
My sympathy is for the American news networks whose commitment to non-partisan reporting obliges them to seize upon anything by the Trumps that doesnt immediately look like the End Times for Democracy and forcibly praise it. How else to explain this extraordinary paragraph in the Washington Post, discussing Trumps wife and daughter in Saudi Arabia?
Despite their apparent ornamentalism, theres little doubt both women made a lasting impression on Saudi women, who would have recognized and identified with their feminine power. Wordlessly, they projected strength, intelligence, grace and a timeless wisdom that all women share.
Either Im not a woman or my female share of timeless wisdom comes with a mutant variation, because rich girls in luxe outfits hanging round a bunch of guys and saying nothing doesnt exude much intelligence, let alone power, to me. Maybe Im misreading what feminine power means in this context. Is it something biological like when your internalised resentment at patriarchy coils so tightly into your Kegel muscles that your eyes start glistening? Flicking male hands away from you may indeed be a symptom.
Or is feminine power just a brand of which Im unaware? Is it an appropriately diplomatic functional item, like a Bic Pen for Her? Or is it some kind of pungent deodorant, perfumed with scents preferred by pussy-grabbers everywhere; violets, roses, and coerced submission?
Because if power can indeed be female, surely it doesnt look like re-enacting the beauty parades that have objectified and nullified women as agents of political leadership for aeons. It looks more campaigning for equal pay, demanding female representation in federal cabinet, the judiciary and public service at 50%, and legislating for women to have legal control over their own bodies. They are, after all, gender equality strategies denied to women both in Saudi Arabia and the United States.
Feminine power certainly suggests a radical alternative to the political world weve come to know. It even suggests to me women achieving power in their own right, not as decorative adjuncts to powerful men. Like, a competent, activist, adult and experienced woman with the capacity to make policy, govern and lead seeking election to the office of president of the United States. In the world as it is now, the timeless wisdom shared by all women surely agrees: theres no prospect weirder than that.