Opinion

“Michelle Wolf is right – there’s nothing anti-feminist about not supporting Sarah Sanders”

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Alicia Lutes
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Sarah Sanders

Sarah Huckabee Sanders doesn’t need our support, says US writer Alicia Lutes. She needs our honest thoughts about her time at the White House. 

Recently departed Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders left the White House this weekend and (allegedly) wants to run for governor of Arkansas. Recent talk has centred on her replacement, Stephanie Grisham, aka Melania Trump’s communications director, over the past few days but Sanders, like Sean Spicer before her, leaves the Trump White House having enabled one of the worst administrations in American political history. So let’s get one thing straight as she leaves the podium behind for good: she helped destroy the idea of truth and the tenets of American freedom and we should absolutely not normalize her or her behaviors.

Make no mistake: I am not blaming Sanders for Trump’s lies and misdemeanours. But I am blaming Sanders for her eager complicity in that system, as a way to ensure power over parity, and her part in tearing down long-standing political norms in the name of rationalizing governing through hate. Attempting to endear her to America as some sort of innocent bystander or victim of Donald Trump only helps to pave the path towards further political malevolence moving forward.

Sanders carried with her, in her job of talking with journalists, an open contempt for said journalists and the search for truth in general. We cannot reward distaste for the tenets of our democracy, the tenets that make it so free, with more power and political authority. Some people don’t get to be redeemed.

Frankly, the most feminist thing you could do right now is condemn Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

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We should not parade Sanders out for jokes at the Emmy Awards or Saturday Night Live, as Spicer was. She does not deserve memoir money or to be given the cushy title (and money that comes with) a contributor title at a major news outlet. Public speaking fees would be an ironic insult to all the people she silenced when she stopped doing her literal job (holding press briefings, the last of which took place on 11 March). To do so would make light of the way in which she poisoned American discourse and our general sense of morality. It would continue to make it seem like hate, misinformation, and lies are totally fine, normal, run-of-the-mill ways to run the government.

To allow her to profit or thrive off of the terrible, ethically indefensible things she did in the name of President Trump, is not the sort of equality or parity I want as a woman, feminist, or human being alive on Earth in the year 2019. Not today, Satan. Not today.

“Not one feminist has defended Sarah Sanders,” tweeted Hercules actor Kevin Sorbo. “It seems women’s rights only matter if those women are liberal.” Maybe that’s because most feminists believe exploiting women’s bodies as a political bargaining chip doesn’t exactly lead to equality or autonomy. Taking away our rights and bodily autonomy isn’t exactly a feminist tenet.

Sarah Sanders
Sarah Sanders: Trump’s soon-to-be former press secretary

Sarah Huckabee Sanders has actively made American women’s lives worse. She was a foot soldier in Donald Trump’s war against women. She backs up his lies and posits them as truth, even when she contradicts him in the same breath.

Sure, she’s the first ever mom to hold the job, but she also propped up misogyny and played into sexism at every single turn, like when CNN’s Jim Acosta’s press credentials were removed and they tried to invoke the #MeToo Movement to do it. I mean, look at how she responded to Michelle Wolf’s jokes about her eye makeup at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

It’s as Wolf put it at one point during her Netflix show, “there’s nothing anti-feminist about not supporting certain women.” Especially if that woman is actively making the lives of other women a million times worse. If we’re really looking for equality, we’ve got to call out the shitty women as much as the shitty men.

So you’ll excuse us if we’re over here laughing at the fact that Sanders wants to be remembered as being “transparent and honest throughout … doing everything I could to make America a little better that day than it was the day before.” Hey, Sarah: you haven’t held a press briefing to answer questions – you know, your one job – in over 100 days. Is obfuscating what’s happening in the White House leaving America a little bit better than it was before?

She learned all the wrong lessons from the worst possible people: Donald Trump and her father, Mike Huckabee. People who have flaunted their own hypocrisy with the sort of joyful exuberance that only comes from profiting off the backs of the less fortunate for millennia and forgetting how things work for the rest of the world.

Sarah Sanders
Sarah Sanders had a close working relationship with President Donald Trump

No, the real feminist move is to take a stand against Sanders, and her peers. Because it doesn’t matter if we lose the day-to-day fights, it’s about focusing on the overall moral war, the one that history will remember; a history that we will shape by the content of our character.

Now that she wants even more, like all the ambitious people who took jobs in this administration, we should absolutely, without question, not give it to her. Just because she had a White House job does not mean she gets carte blanche in her career. Rewarding her just because it is what generally comes next when you leave a job after working for the president, is not making America great. We need to show we’re better than that; that we’ve moved forward and evolved in the messed-up morality-and-reality battle for supremacy the Trump administration has caused.

So, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, I say this with the utmost feminist respect: kindly fuck off and leave America alone. You’ve done enough damage and you don’t deserve to craft a redemption narrative. Not this time.