Julie Burchill

The hypocrisy of the ‘Free Melania’ feminists

The hypocrisy of the 'Free Melania' feminists
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I like to prance around showing off in hats and shouting at men as much as the next broad but - apart from the fact that I can get it at home - there were several reasons why I chose not to join a whole batch of my bitches on the Women’s March this weekend. Firstly, I was sure it would be full of 'Strong Women', a phrase I hate at the best of times - and feel should only be used if the lady in question can tear a telephone directory in half with her bare hands - and which seemed especially inappropriate to describe a bunch of overgrown Violet Elizabeth Botts having a collective temper tantrum because their side lost. Once again, we saw the regressive Left repeating the same behaviour that lost it power in the first place - namely, childishly demonising any opponent as Hitler With Funny Hair.

On a more sinister level, I found it quite repulsive that one of the organisers of the Washington march, Linda Sarsour, is a vocal fan of Saudi Arabia - ‘10 weeks of PAID maternity leave in Saudi Arabia. Yes PAID. And ur worrying about women driving. Puts us to shame’ went one tweet. It conveniently side-stepped the fact that as women in Saudi Arabia aren’t allowed to drive, meet unrelated men or feel the sun on their bare heads, giving them permission to stay at home looking after children is about as empowering as giving a fish permission to swim.

Then we had the grotesque spectacle of many non-Muslim women voluntarily hijabing-up on the various marches. It made me recall the liberal Muslim feminist Asra Nomani who said she voted for Trump because she felt that she could not stomach four more years of apologism for Islamism in the White House. She ended up getting abuse from a white feminist who accused her of normalising 'white supremacy'. 

Strangely, for protestors so keen to complain about sexism and xenophobia, there was one female immigrant they didn’t mind stereotyping as a dumb foreigner - Melania Knauss Trump, the new First Lady. The collective slander wasn’t even of the skilful, sarcastic kind that I, as a long-time connoisseur of cattiness, can appreciate. Instead, it was that modern passive-aggressive sliming of pretending to feel sorry for someone when you’re just really cross that they’re not like you - and often as an attempt to transfer your own issues onto them. Hence the 'Free Melania' placards, because of course feminists are never in controlling, abusive and/or suffocating relationships. 

How much easier to feel good about one’s own unsatisfactory life by demonising the Other - and to read the fact that English isn't the First Lady’s first language as stupidity. It's very naive to presume we know what the Trump marriage is like; Melania’s quietness is just as likely to be caused by shyness (the kind a lot of professionally beautiful people retain, not easily understood by the rest of us) and reserve as much as fear. And if she'd have been prancing around grinning, she'd have been accused of being a triumphalist bitch! Women can't win in this situation, and it's weird to see alleged feminists piling in on her; I can’t help feeling that those women who misread 'overwhelmed by circumstances but determined to put best foot forward' as 'confused and in need of rescue' are very probably projecting their own problems onto her.

Imagine if Melania gave an interview in which she expressed pity for the women on the marches! We'd never hear the end of it. Melania-bashing is turning into yet another riff on How A Woman Should Be, from the sort of buzz-kills who used to upbraid other women for wearing lipstick. That her husband is extremely physically unattractive seems another odd jibe coming from feminists, who’ve always been against looks-ism. And let's remember that our own dear Jeremy Corbyn has married three times, and that his third wife is much younger than him and also doesn't have English as her first language.

'Melania, blink twice if you need help!' said another banner - totally trivialising the domestic violence trope, and made even odder by the fact that this was the day when hijabs were voluntarily worn by women not condemned to them by birth. It would make far more sense for Western women to take on 'blink twice over your burqa if you need help' as a slogan. But instead, these high-minded morons chose to march alongside groups which support this agenda of atrocities.

In the past I’ve compared women who willingly convert to this most sexually oppressive of religions to those sad-sacks who write love letters to crazed sex-killers on Death Row; similarly, the Women’s March looked a lot like a mass wedding of - to quote Christopher Hitchens on the anti-Iraq War protests - ‘the silly led by the sinister'. Or as the writer Nervana Mahmoud heartbreakingly put it: ‘Now we liberal Muslims feel alienated again. Those who are marching against Trump are selective liberals; they remember liberalism when a white man like Trump is the culprit, but happily defend the illiberalism of non-white authoritarian regimes and ideologies. My message to all social activists marching in America is simple: Feel our pain, and stand with our common values. One cannot stand against Trump’s misogyny while condoning or ignoring others’ misogyny as ‘cultural' or 'religious'. Such selectivity is what led to the rise of Trump in the first place. Women’s rights are for all, not just for American and other Western women.’