Michelle Wolf’s Correspondents’ Dinner Speech Was Not Anti-Feminist

Let’s set the record straight: everybody here knows that at the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday, Michelle Wolf did not make fun of the way Sarah Huckabee Sanders looked. We know this because smart people have written about it, we know this because we have eyes and ears and understand that commenting on a person’s eyeliner is not an insult (especially since it was a compliment and used in conjunction with the blessed point that Sanders lies regularly to those she was currently sharing a room with), and we know this because we are not fools. You do not need me to remind you that Michelle Wolf didn’t desecrate Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ aesthetic legacy because you already know that she didn’t. But just in case, here we are, and I am reminding you.

But one of the strangest things this “controversy” has bred is the “shame on you” rhetoric from those more upset over Wolf’s monologue than, well, anything the White House is actually doing. Especially in terms of how Sanders is a woman and Wolf is a woman, and “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women” etc. etc. etc. because I guess this particular woman didn’t help another woman — or something, I don’t know. It’s been a very long weekend with many terrible takes.

So here’s a take as old as time: at the very base of everything, let’s remember that it’s fine for another woman to dislike another woman. It is fine for a woman to call out another woman for lying regularly to the American public. It is fine for a woman to call out another woman for most reasons, to be honest. That’s how being a person works. You don’t get a free pass because of shared gender. That’s not a thing, and it’s also not anti-feminist. Just like it is not anti-feminist to opt out of aligning yourself with a particular woman (or women) if their actions are, in a word, bad. We all want equal rights for women, absolutely, but we absolutely don’t need to like every woman, agree with every woman, or hang out with every woman. As a feminist, I reserve the right to dislike any woman I want.

Which is what’s so annoying about the controversy surrounding Wolf’s words. They weren’t anti-feminist, they were anti-idiocy. They existed to bring our attention to the patterns we’ve normalized and the way we’ve come to profit off an administration rooted in countless genres of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, elitism, and ableism. She wasn’t picking on Sanders because she could and why not and YOLO, she was calling her out for regularly trying to manipulate the American public. She was doing her job. The eyeliner bit? That’s nothing. And not just a “nothing” in terms of anti-feminist rhetoric, it was nothing — at all. Like, in the history of the world. It was a non-thing that’s being used to fuel some bullshit “women don’t insult other women” angle, and, well, stop it. Especially because sometimes women do insult other women, because we’re people. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man stand up during a Comedy Central roast to say “There’s a special place in hell for men who don’t help other men!!!”

Although, for the record, that would be incredible. Even though it would mean far fewer think pieces.

Tags: Anne T. Donahue

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