The Top 5 Things that Bernie and Trump have in Common


1. Movement

Bernie: Our movement understands that what we don't need is Trump's huge tax breaks for millionaires. July 21, 2016

Trump: “It's a movement not a campaign.” Trump campaign ad September 20, 2016

Politicians never start movements because movements are started by people, always. Can you think of an instance where a billionaire ever started a movement?

Campaigns operate within our political system. Movements operate outside the political system.

2. Establishment

Trump, "I think the establishment actually is against me...” January 25, 2016

Bernie: “I think the people of Iowa have sent a very profound message to the political establishment, to the economic establishment, and, by the way, to the media establishment.” February 1, 2016

Both Trump and Bernie dislike the “establishment.” They both ran for president as “outsiders.”

In fact Bernie went so far as to refer to Planned Parenthood a “part of the establishment.” January, 2016

3. Corrupt

Trump: "Our laws are so corrupt and so stupid," Trump April, 2018

Both Trump and Bernie have contempt for our political system. Trump clearly wants to undermine our laws and Bernie has no faith in the political “system.”

Bernie: “Democratic socialism means that we must reform a political system in America today which is not only grossly unfair but, in many respects, corrupt.” November, 2015

Trump: “Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt, and when say corrupt I'm talking about totally corrupt political establishment, with a new government controlled by you the American people.” October 2016

4. Rigged

Trump: “I'm afraid the election is going to be rigged.” August 2, 2016

Althought Bernie never claimed the election was rigged against him, large numbers of his supporters firmly believe the DNC was rigging the primary for Hillary. His supporters believed the political system was broken and that the primary was rigged to favor Hillary.

5. They rarely smile

Bernie and Trump scowl. When they do smile it's rare and visibly pained.

Trump and Bernie's comfort zone is the angry face, but anger is not a substitute for governance.

There's more similarities

Although Bernie and Trump consistently referred to working men and women or “working families” during their presidential runs, the image of “working” was certainly an image of the white male laborer.

Moreover, it was this particular demographic, the white working male, that their supporters adamantly referred to when discussing Hillary's loss: 'She lost the working people.' But that is disingenuous. What they really meant was that she couldn't persuade the 'working man' to support her. Certainly working women backed her (read the championing of the Lilly Ledbetter bill by Hillary and Ledbetter's subsequent endorsement of Hillary). Moreover, people who were concerned about the state of our economy voted for Hillary.

Her “loss” is identified by many as her inability to connect with 'workers.” This image conjures up populist feelings of pride in the 'strong man' who works hard despite the powers of elites that conspire against him. Hillary was cast as an 'elite' evidenced in the constant references to her as being status quo or corporate.

Both Bernie and Trump want their movements. Yet, interestingly neither has any background in the women's liberation movement which changed this country radically in the mid-20th century with one of its most notable achievements: the opening of doors for women into traditionally male jobs.

Shockingly, Bernie gave a speech in 2015 on socialism and the greatness of the New Deal without ever mentioning Francis Perkins, the woman who essentially created the New Deal.

Political Parties

Bernie was never a Democrat until he ran for president in 2016 and now he has returned to being an independent. Trump, between 1987 and 2011, started as a registered republican and then switched to independent and then switched again to a democrat and then back to being a republican.

The similarities between the two men who campaigned against the first woman to win a major party nomination is worth analyzing.

When we move beyond this time and enter a new decade, perhaps, we can see more clearly the trends that laid a foundation for the Trump Presidency. Patriarchy is bolstered by people whose comfort zone is a male framework for culture and government. In order to pave the way for a fuller democracy for the United States our biases must be uncovered and seen in a new light.

-Jennifer Hall Lee

She Who Persists We Must Enlist

A friend and I had lunch yesterday at one of the new Los Angeles area fusion restaurants in a newly gentrified neighborhood. Big money increasingly edges out regular people in American cities and we get fancy eggs and vegetables in return.

The cappuccino arrived and my friend asked me, "Who should run in 2020?" 

This is the wrong question.

It's a talking point, a cliche. And cliches are traditions that serve no purpose but to allow us the luxury of not thinking.

Something big is happening in our country. Let's open our eyes.

I made the following points:

  • We need justice for 2016
  • We need a President to help us, the people, fix our democracy*

Surprisingly I got a little bit of sticky resistance. My friend insisted we needed someone to beat Trump. That suggestion has an air of fantasy.

How can we "beat Trump" if we have no justice for the crime committed in 2016?

Fix the problem at hand. 

He floated celebrity names. I pushed back. If we encourage billionaires and celebrities (ones who have not begun a new political career by running for city council or school board) to populate the road to the White House simply because they have name recognition then soon the billionaires wil totally absorb our political sphere, which is our public sphere.

Public, that's us. 

 My lunch

My lunch

2016 was not a flash in the pan. It was a fire that's burning down our house. I told him we needed Hillary.

He resisted, I persisted.

Anyone who thinks 2018 and 2020 is going to be a normal election is naive.

Only we can fix the problem.

Fake news, online trolls and hate for any candidate that espouses strong democratic values will be a target of interference from the various anti-democratic forces sweeping the world.

President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte said in February, “Tell the soldiers. There’s a new order coming from the mayor. We won’t kill you. We will just shoot your vagina." 

We are in a wave of anti-human rights sentiment and actions across the globe.

Prior to the 2016 election Trump was heard on the Access Hollywood recording saying, "You can do anything ... Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything."

These men are not friends of women or children yet, women and children are a supermajority. 

This time that we are in is a part of something big:  the women's movement continuum that is moving into a phase of female global leadership equal with men.

There are men who are not friends of women and children in powerful positions who are attempting to remind us that we are just body parts. (And they have female enablers.)

We resist.

We are the people and we exist. 

 Written on an envelope from a friend.

Written on an envelope from a friend.

Progressive Sexism Holds Women Back from the Oval Office

Van Jones did it again, but he didn't say oops. With one sentence he dismissed Hillary's progressive work and brought back mid-20th century sexism to the forefront. In reference to the 2016 election he said that the "Clinton days are over." Note to Jones, the Clinton family wasn't running for President, Hillary was.

Hillary is a singular person distinct from her marriage. Does Van Jones see Hillary as a wife before he sees her as a person? Yes, it's possible. (I was surprised to hear his words as I have been impressed by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights which he co-founded. Ella Baker is a woman whose accomplishments haven't been as widely recognized as they should.)

His dismissal of Hillary is not a stand alone statement. In 2016 he referred to Hillary as a "workaholic do-gooder chick." This was during the historic primary where she broke the unspoken gendered political wall that barred women from being major party nominees. Surprisingly, Van Jones admitted this during the Democratic convention. He said it was at this point that he saw all the  "dots put together in the right way." I'm not sure if the dots were new information for Van Jones (they shouldn't have been), but there is far more he could have said about the political work of Hillary Clinton.

His words are an example of progressive sexism which is a tool used unconsciously by people on the left who see women's rights and children's rights as offshoots or subsets of the main male frame of politics. Their thinking is patriarchal.

Hillary did things no first lady has ever done. She blasted through multiple barriers for women in politics starting from the place as first lady. She turned a nationally recognized role as helpmate into a role as global warrior for women's rights. Many women can now follow in her shoes. To marginalize her as just part of a marriage is pre-women's liberation movement sexism at best. At worst it is the maintenance of patriarchal gender roles that keep the Oval Office solidly male.

In 2016 Hillary didn't run just to win. She did it to bring her significant skills to lead a nation and help change the world. Her life's work is an example of politics that includes women and children.

I was recently in Pakistan at the International Islamic University, Islamabad and female students (on the female campus) wanted to discuss the election. They were amazed that Hillary wasn't elected and added that they had been "rooting for her." Some were forlorn, others shocked, one was smiling in an embarrassed way. I could see that she was sad, yet perplexed at how Hillary did not win. She was looking at me as if to say, "Can't the American people see that we needed her?" I assured her that the majority of the voters could see them.

The words that come from the U.S. Presidency, and the President-elect, are heard around the world. (Think about this when you read his tweets and remember the "pussy" talk.)

Electing a woman such as Hillary to the Oval Office would have been a great change that would bring the issues of children and women to the forefront, globally. That changes our foreign policy and domestic policy. That "do-gooder chick" would have changed the lives of women world-wide.

Don't believe me? Study the nations where women are subjugated and notice that those countries are hotbeds for terrorism and violence. In those areas children's lives are marginalized and destroyed. We have never had a president speak to them in a way that Hillary would have spoken: as part of the mainframe of global politics.

This type of work is far more than just being a workaholic or a chick. Hillary wasn't just part of a Clinton family. Van Jones' words dismiss her truly progressive work. Perhaps he didn't connect the dots, but First Lady Michelle Obama most certainly did when she said about Hillary, "...we want a president who values and honors women, who teaches our daughters and our sons that women are full and equal human being worth, deserving of love and respect."

A woman in the Oval Office is needed now. 

Progressive sexism is real and it keeps the U.S. presidency solidly male.


Do I Respect Women? Yes.

by Jennifer Hall Lee

"Does she have a fat ass? Absolutely" - Donald Trump

Secretary of State Clinton with women from Lower Mekong Women's Initiative in 2012  Photo courtesy State Department by Paul Watzlavick

We are all wringing our hands. We are thirty nine days until election day and Hillary and Donald are the choices. Some people operate under tired cliches. They think that both of them are terrible candidates. Have we become a reality show?

We have Donald, an overtly sexist businessman who doesn't pay federal taxes and Hillary, a feminist politician who has fought successfully for women and children for over forty years. The race is close, if you can believe that. 

For the feminists of the 1980s who knew we would see a female president in our future, we didn't see this coming. We have faced tremendous pushback to women running for President and now we stand at the doorway of success.

Donald, her opponent, is the nominee of the Republican Party. How the mighty have fallen.

Character is a large part of being President, just ask any Reagan loving conservative, or any social justice liberal fighter. And yet, Donald Trump, a man with basically no character, is garnering a significant amount of votes. Just yesterday in Southern California's largest newspaper, The Los Angeles Times, we are introduced to another piece of his broken sense of how to treat other people, particularly female employees.

A lawsuit against the Trump National Golf Club located in the leafy green city of Palos Verdes was the subject of a 2005 Labor Relations suit. Some parts of the court records read like a John Grisham novel about discrimination against women. According to these documents, the Director of Catering said that she witnessed Trump tell managers that the women working there weren't "pretty enough" and that they should be "fired."

If you are steeped in television shock dramas and reality shows, you can shrug it off as inconsequential and say that's Trump being Trump. Well, there is an old-fashioned saying that often absolved boys from doing bad things; boys will be boys. This bouncy phrase is alive today and that's why Trump gets a lot of passes among his base.

How anyone can vote for Trump after hearing that he calls women "pigs" or judges their bodies as not being good enough is unthinkable to me. 

Let's look at this from a different angle. Look at this election from my point of view.

Almost every day we read another story about sexual assault of girls in schools or college campuses. Every parent who reads these stories can't help but think of their own daughters. Women are clearly still seen as objects for male consumption, despite our advances for women. Trump's words are evidence of this twisted value system. If he were to ever sit in the Oval Office his words would ring out across the globe. Let's imagine this particular Trump sentence vocalized from the White House, "I'd look her right in that fat ugly face of hers."

That would be heard by people in countries where so-called "honor killings" and rape are considered a male privilege.

On the other side of this election we have our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who many people distrust, yet there are no lawsuits filed against her, although many have tried and failed. Her family's charity, unlike Trump's, has created big changes in the world such as lowering the cost of malarial drugs.

But there is one thing I can't seem to get out of my mind. I think about it often. It's about sex trafficking.

First Lady Hillary Clinton meeting with women in India in 1995

When Hillary was first lady she shined a light on the crime of sex trafficking for all the world to see. Back in 1997 we weren't talking about this crime like we do today, it was unknown to most of us.

It happened like this: During a women's conference, co-organized by Hillary, Ukrainian women approached her and asked for help. Young women were disappearing from their towns and villages, lured away by job opportunities and never seen again.

Hillary helped these women and her work led to the first international piece of legislation that made sex trafficking a crime. It enabled us to prosecute sex traffickers. 

This is just part of Hillary's early work. It is an example of her consistent drive to better the lives of all people.

You want change? Well, this is where the rubber meets the road folks. So I am perplexed by women and men who don't trust her. I think they don't trust women who have moved successfully in traditionally male areas of expertise.  

Sexism runs deep even in the hearts of the most fervent progressive.

I shudder to think that something else might be true. Could it be that women politicians who have been successful in bettering women's lives around the globe inspire distrust in many Americans? 

It's a chilling thought.

If true, then how do we ever help women in countries unlike our own where religious zealots wield violent power over women and girls?

Do we have the courage to sit back and objectively see our own biases that have possibly kept our Oval Office entirely male.

We don't need father figures to guide our moral lives simply because they are male. We are adults and we choose how we want to solve the problems of our world, which includes fighting terrorism in countries where women are subjugated (try finding a terrorist country where women have equality).

Sexism is not a side issue to bigger problems. It is woven tightly into the laws and religious beliefs of countries where girls and women are seen as less than human.

If the abusive treatment of women in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq upsets you and you want it stopped, then Hillary is your candidate, not Donald. 

Hillary tells us that this a tight race. How can that be?

What if all the fence sitters and third party voters decided to stand with the women around the world who have survived gang rapes and the young women and girls here in the United States who have survived sexual assault on a college campus. If they took a solid step in support of these women and emphatically voted for Hillary without hesitation, we would watch her pull away in the polls and walk into the Oval Office with a sizable lead. 

Or we can keep it close and fear a future where Donald could utter his opinions about women from the White House. When asked in a 1992 interview with noted misogynist Howard Stern if he respected women Trump replied, "Uh, I can't say that either."

I don't know how you tell a pre-teen girl that her President doesn't respect women and expect that girl to love herself.

Maybe we don't have individual megaphones with which to tell the women and girls of the world that we want to help them. But, we do have our vote. 

You want to change the world?

Vote for Her.




by Jennifer Hall Lee

A tweet to Cheri Jacobs

This presidential race was bound to be close and I thought I was prepared. I was going to power through this election. I didn't foresee that Donald Trump, and then a frog, would stop me in my tracks and make me think hard about our current situation. 

It is surprising how many people identify as nazis and anti-semites. They are called white nationalists and Trump has brought them out into the wide open. They are also called the alternative right, or alt-right. They are the far, far-right who are bound together by their disdain for everyone else. They hate immigration.

Trump, Pepe, the alt-right. They all go together in a big basket.

Like all groups the alt-right has images and symbols that help identify them on the web. One of these images is a frog.  

His name is Pepe and he is the defacto mascot for the alt-right. He isn't pretty. In fact he is paunchy, crudely drawn and he barely smiles.

It's a disturbing time in America, but I haven't yet seen a collective shudder among the electorate. Either people haven't put the pieces together or they are rationalizing the bizarre behavior on the part of Trump. It's time to put the bricks together and form the structure that is hiding in plain sight.

The alt-right. The name isn't going away anytime soon. They are super excited that Hillary gave them a big shout-out which identified them to the country. The alt-right is now on the political map. They refer to themselves as racialists and believe in the separation of the races.

Alt-righters are everywhere and they have been hidden in the deep layers of the web, until now.

Proud and emboldened they even have a logo: two letters A and R, both constructed out of three triangles

Richard Spencer, a prominent white supremacist gave a press conference two days ago before Trump gave his speech on values. 

For them, it is their time. They have arrived.

The Fascist Mascot

The alt-right trolls the web with their icon Pepe the Frog. Some of us post kitten pictures or images of Gene Wilder for a laugh. The alt-right pushes Pepe.

Pepe harasses, insinuates, leers and when depicted with Hitler and Mein Kampf, he is downright evil.

I know there are many who say, “Time Out! Many people have tweeted Pepe with no ill will.” This is true, Pepe was not born in the alt-right world, but the alt-right claimed him as one of their own. 

Pepe has been born-again. He has a message, “Pepe is one of us and we will prevail.”

This frog is a bully and his online antics have placed him in a lawsuit filed by GOP communications pro Cheri Jacobus against Donald Trump and his past campaign manager (now a CNN commentator) Corey Lewandowski. She is suing both of them for defamation.

Her Trump travails start on May 17, 2015 when Ms. Jacobus gets contacted by a man connected to Trump (the campaign was in its early stages) who asked Jacobus to join the Trump train as the Communications Director. Trump is a high profile guy and Jacobus is a professional so she takes the meeting.

The second meeting is where it gets tricky. Corey Lewandowski, according to the summons, behaves in an “erratic” way. He was talking loudly and inappropriately and was generally a "powder keg." He even brags about yelling at Megyn Kelly.

Jacobus smartly declines their offer of employment and goes back to her role as news commentator. Her brief foray into Trump's world safely behind her, or so she thought. Jacobus was at the start of another round of unprofessional behavior.

What happens to her is a roller coaster of a ride through the Trump sewer of retaliation and lies. 

While on the Don Lemon show, in January, she criticized Trump's debating skills among other things. She is, after all, a commentator. But Jacobus got under Trump's thin skin. 

Both Trump and Lewandowski engaged in a takedown of Jacobus' character on talk shows and on the web.  For weeks they claimed that she “begged” them for a job and was turned down..

Many other anonymous tweeters joined in and they brought Pepe along to help them fight their sordid battle. (Who are these hidden tweeters?) In early January one tweet showed Pepe, with blond Trump-style hair, pointing a machine gun with a message for Cheri: this triggers @CheriJacobus

She responded.


Pepe reads Mein Kampf

Then later that day another tweet appeared. It is a two-paneled image of a blond woman with her head on a chopping block and her hands tied behind her back. She has a hatchet on her neck. In the next panel Pepe is raping the headless torso.

The message to Cheri: #MakeAmericaGreatAgain

That image is cited in Jacobus' lawsuit.

 I have altered this tweet with the black bar

I have altered this tweet with the black bar

Trump continued his tirade against her. In his signature juvenile style he tweeted about Jacobus: "A real dummy!"

Trump can't stop, he continues the online assault against Jacobus. 

The tweeting persecution of Jacobus contines to this day. Just recently another tweet appeared showing Pepe holding Hitler's Mein Kampf with a message to Jacobs: Do you really think you can win against Shitlords? #LOL

And two days ago, on September 11, a day of rememberance and honor, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted an image with Pepe standing to the right of Donald Trump's shoulder. It's a parody of the movie poster for The Expendables. All of the heads have been photoshopped. These are Trump loyalists, all men.

By placing Pepe in the image this becomes a direct message to the alt-right Trump followers. No shame for the hateful.

We can rationalize these events and say to ourselves "It's just Trump being Trump.  Pepe is a character used by many."

Pepe is used specifically by the alt-right.

People lie to themselves all the time when we don't want to see the truth. We can be forgiving or dismissive of cruelty as in the case of Cheri Jacobus, or we can be brave and admit to ourselves that this no ordinary election.

These alt-righters are the “basket of deplorables” that Hillary alerted us to and for good reason. She wanted us to see them.

Beware of Pepe.


- Read the lawsuit for yourself, it's pinned at the top of her Twitter page


Trump Lies And Hillary Flies

It's Labor Day and the Hillary campaign has a new 737 Boeing to seat all the press comfortably. Happy reporters. Her campaign has shifted gears and she has a message for us, "If you want more happy Labor Days, you know who to vote for."

Landing in Ohio she shared the tarmac with Trump's plane in one of those common and uncomfortable moments in many presidential campaigns. I thought I saw him peering out the window feeling good that his plane was bigger than hers. 

Trump's worried about the upcoming debate where he will have to answer questions on the same stage with her. All he has is a handful of verbal jabs and pocketful of bankruptcies to draw from as she hammers him on domestic and foreign policy. He needs help and he is a desperate man.

There is an unusual push by many conservatives and independents for libertarian Gary Johnson to be a part of the presidential debates. Another man on the stage to take the Hilary heat will give Trump more time to think. 

It's a bumpy election this year. It's challenging. I have liberal friends who accuse me of just wanting a woman president. I have conservative friends who say the same thing. Hillary-rejection is bi-partisan.

For those who assail me with the sentence I have heard a thousand times, “I want a woman president, just not her” I have to respond that there is no magical woman out there who will step into the Oval Office waving a wand and making all things idyllic. Life isn't a fairy tale. Activism and politics are two different things. Just look at Obama's 2008 vote for FISA. It didn't stop anyone for voting for him. Voters gave him the space to be a politician without saying they didn't trust him. 

A woman on the presidential campaign trail doesn't get that broad trusting treatment because presidential candidates are viewed emotionally. A woman president? Must be something wrong with her. 

The energetic Don Lemon from CNN revealed his emotion when he said that the President is like the daddy of the country. 

I cringe at those gendered definitions because that is what has kept the Oval Office solidly male. This is what we are up against. 

As a supporter who has watched Hillary run for the presidency twice, I have seen different criticisms of her surface, such as the Iraq War vote from the 2008 campaign which is now largely forgotten and in its place is the current email controversy. 

There is one criticism from both of her campaigns that is embodied in the thinest of sentences that hovers around the anti-Hillary people. I can hear it before they speak. “I don't trust her.” 

The sentence is a stand-in for the uncomfortable truth: they are nervous about a woman president. 

To say you are uncomfortable with a woman as the U.S. President is to be uncool, so you have to find another reason. That's hard to do because Hillary is not just any woman. She is a FLOTUS, Senator and Secretary of State. The enormity of her experience is shaking some traditional ground. 

It's nerve wracking for many who want our traditional roles to remain fixed. It's gender Stockholm Syndrome. These voters can be tough in their opinions. No matter how much history about her work that you reveal to them, they are stuck in the cesspool of half truths and lies.

And now Trump has employed a master of misinformation as his campaign manager, Steve Bannon. He has a colorful history including domestic violence charges. Another Trump advisor is the famous Fox CEO Roger Ailes, who recently quit his job due to a sexual harassment lawsuit. 

To see someone's character look at the people who surround them.

Some are so nervous about a woman at the helm of our country that they would take a chance on Donald Trump even if they don't like him. The blond duck-billed hairdo with the startling white lids of both eyes who has filed bankruptcy six times. He is a hotel builder who has refused to pay subcontractors after they did work for him. A man who has done business with mafia men in Atlantic city. He is two-times divorced. He admires Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Trump built his business with a lot of help from his rich Daddy. He inherited millions. He has Trump ties made overseas and his daughter, Ivanka, gets her products made in China. In which country do they celebrate Labor Day? 

If the anti-Hillary people don't trust her, then they must trust him more. Emotions are complex. Past New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ( A man many have hoped would run for President.) spoke at the Democratic convention and elaborated on Trump's goal to run the country the way his runs own business, "God Help us. I'm a New Yorker, and I know a con when I see one."

In response Trump gave a press conference and alluded to wanting to punch Bloomberg, who he referred to as a "little" guy, so hard his head would spin. Bullying from the campaign road reaches millions. For adults who absolve this behavior I can only think that fear of a woman president shadows their rational thought processes.

Hillary's success at passing legislation with republicans to better the lives of children is one of many clear examples of the differences between these two candidates.

This campaign shows us a major shift in how we will view the Presidency of the United States in the future; fearful and full of hate or hopeful and full of potential.

Trump is desperate and trying to soften his image. He is even stealing some of Hillary's lines on "love." 

Trump is a chameleon out to win, not to govern. 

Fear is emotional, but love will always trump hate. 



Slut-Shaming Versus The Male Gaze

Am I a Slut-Shamer or just another feminist?

There are a few photos of a nude Melania Trump being passed around the web. I consider them to be feminist viruses that scream “click me.” They are invading our Facebook pages and our psyches.

These images are examples of the classic feminist concept called the Male Gaze, a term created by Laura Mulvaney in 1975. Mulvaney's  academic framework was brilliant and enabled us to finally analyze cinematic imagery with a feminist eye. 

What is the Male Gaze? It is the male point of view. We see the male gaze in pornography, comics, movies, and billboards. It is the lens through which we peer when seeing women and girls depicted for male consumption.

Good examples of the Male Gaze are the sexualized images of Marilyn Monroe. Ms. Monroe portrayed a woman as a mix of sexuality and girlish innocence in numerous movies. She was a pre-feminist cultural definition of the desirable female. She fought this description of herself because she wanted to have good roles with dramatic depth without success.

The women's liberation movement was too far into the future for her and she couldn't break through. Monroe stays forever embedded in the patriarchal milieu of pre-feminist movie-making. 

When I first saw the images of Melania Trump I couldn't help but to apply the Male Gaze and I critiqued them for what they are: images for men.

Then I posted them on Facebook and commented that our girls really didn't need to see these pictures of a First Lady.

And that's where the Slut Shaming cudgel came flying through the web to try and knock me out.

But, I was ready with my Wonder Woman power cuffs and deflected the assault.

Am I a Slut-Shamer or just another feminist?

The accusation of Slut-Shaming can be seen as a way to silence a woman for criticizing the patriarchal male gaze.

We are in an election where we have the chance to break the all male deadlock in the Oval Office. It is the first time we have a female nominee for president who has a good chance of being President. It is interesting these images have surfaced at this time.

The presence of these photographs challenge us at this historic point in time; Are we ready for a woman President or do we want to keep women as simply sexual beings?

The photo I posted, when I got my slut-spanking, had layers of meaning any progressive feminist would be excited to dissect and analyze. Let's give it a try.

Melania is nude and lying provocatively on a bed with tousled white sheets. She looks alluring and is staring straight at the camera – at us. We are looking down at her. Her body is vulnerable with spiky high heels that would hobble her if she tried to leave. Her jewelry consists of two heavily jeweled cuffs on both wrists and a jeweled choker around her neck. This bed is owned by someone. Her? I don't think so and here's why. She is on the bed, but she is handcuffed to a man's briefcase. Who has the key? The owner of the briefcase. The owner of the bed. The owner of her.

She is chained to him, capitalism, money, and patriarchy. If images could talk this would say, “If you have the money you can have me too."

I'm a feminist, sure I can criticize it.

Some say Trump is the bigger issue and these photos are minor compared to what he could do to our country if he becomes President. In a world where male presidents lord over us as the ultimate power image, with wives as appendages, yes he is the bigger issue.

However,  these images will trot alongside the images of an all male presidential ticket reinforcing an unequal relationship of power and gender. 

And as a feminist mother I have a job to do. I have to help my pre-teen navigate her way through this country and show her how to criticize the images of semi-nude women and yes, provocative images of girls, from television to the streets of my city. (Last night's stroll along Sunset Boulevard brought me to a towering image of a young woman in a tight bathing suit with butt cheeks exposed. )

Our daughters now stand at a moment in time where they can hold in their young minds images of a female President when deconstructing the images of the Male Gaze. 

A teen girl has to grow with a sense of her own power that is not sexual power.

But, thanks to the New York Post, if Trump wins, we have more images of the potential First Lady that will be very visible on the internet. The recent photos of Melania from the 1990s show her acting as a lesbian vixen and as a wet and waxed nude woman with no real pubic hair (an encouragement of pre-pubescent female sex). These clearly compound the problem ahead.

I didn't slut-shame Melania Trump. I criticized the image with a feminist point of view.

As a thinking person I have to allow myself to entertain the possibility that Melania could be First Lady.

A girl's discovery of these photos on the internet coupled with the fact that every single President in our history has been male is a tangled web of gender, power and sex that will have to be confronted if Trump wins.

And that's just pondering the result of girls (and boys) seeing these images here in the United States.

What will children in other countries think?

This isn't slut-shaming. This is a feminist issue. Keep talking.

 Photo of Melania Trump courtesy © Glenn Francis,

The Politics of Penis Power


Senator Marco Rubio with Senator Joni Ernst in Iowa, 2016

Donald Trump and Marco Rubio are comparing penis size in their run for the presidency.  What a difference Hillary has made in the 2016 race.

A woman could win the presidency and men are determined to show us she doesn't possess the right stuff, literally, a penis.

But, before the males can vanquish the female they have to beat their male opponents. Gender is going to be an issue in the general election and these male candidates are getting us ready by referencing their male body parts. For them the presidency is a male domain and they intend to keep it that way.

It has been said that small hands indicate small penis size. That is the quaint bit of folklore that Marco Rubio brought into the race. He said that even though Donald Trump is a tall man his hands are oddly small. “And you know what they say about men with small hands?”

Now there's a smack down.

Men have dominated the history of presidential politics in America, but the presence of Hillary has shifted the power dynamics. To use sexism against her, such as accusing her of of being shrill, will be attacked for what it is, so let's get down to what it's all about – the penis.

Even Donald Trump said recently that back in 2008 Hillary got “schlonged.”

The Oval Office is the ultimate mirror of power in the United States and the reflection has always been male. For women this image has never been their own. We are told that the presidency is for us too, but that has been an illusion under which we have all been expected to live until now.

Clearly Trump and Rubio are quietly panicked at the possibility of being beaten by a woman. So they have to come right out and say it through penis imagery, “The Oval Office is reserved for men and the big one wins.”

In the last republican debate Trump pounced on the accusation that he had a small penis.  He held up his hands and said. “Look at those hands. Are they small hands? I guarantee you there’s no problem, I guarantee you.”

The penis talk underlines an assumption that come the general election Hillary will have a problem because she has no penis. Male power is entwined with a belief that women are inferior. If Hillary wins than that belief is dead. 

Being male and being president have always gone together. Hillary alters the race. Will the penis count?

Interestingly, there is a precursor to talking about penis size; men going shirtless. Martin O'Malley sported the topless look early in the presidential race in the tradition of showing voters he is a virile man. It's a male tradition of sly messages.

We can't deceive ourselves anymore with subtleties. Penis talk is bold and vulgar. All male candidates of the presidency have rested comfortably in the fact that they follow in a long line of male candidates; the Oval Office has been a man's domain. Hillary marks a great change for the country's highest position. 

For many this shift in power is unsettling. For others, like me, it's exhilarating. If she becomes president then the next generation of girls and boys will see power in a new way. 

In the past men only had to compete with half the population, yet now, and in the future, the field will be doubled. This is a positive change because only through a broader field of candidates will we have greater opportunity to elect the best person for president.

For those who want to keep the field of candidates limited and male, talking about penis size, is a last resort.

Image courtesy Gage Skidmore/ WikiCommons