Melania: "Hi, I'm Michelle."
Okay, we know it didn't go like that. But in a more comical world — which one could say died on November 8 — we get by picturing a less awkward, more cheeky encounter than the one that current first lady Michelle Obama, and future first lady Melania Trump, had. Because we never thought we'd see this day, everyone's (still) talking about it. But it's the difference in the way the fashion industry has covered the meetings between President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump, and Michelle and Melania, that has us shaking our heads.
Fashion outlets, in particular, focused their coverage on the women's outfits...and pretty much nothing else. That might sound typical, of course, being that we write about clothing for a living. But not everyone agrees — and not all publications get a pass. Rapper Mykki Blanco is calling for change. In an Instagram he posted a week after election night, Blanco called out a New York Times headline for being misogynistic and sexist.
FEMINISM? WOMANISM? I'm sorry for posting so much lately but I have questions. As a Gay man I have a question for ALL Women... When you see headlines like this you inherently see the misogyny & the sexism even from a progressive outlet like the NYT... it's there it's not hiding... I'm not female or femme identified and so I am wondering what are the conversations being had amongst ALL women about our new reality...our Trump reality? Gender Equality in my opinion can only truly be led by ALL women... Homophobia/Transphobia in my *personal opinion begins with women... WOMEN are the catalysts for all social change as far as I can see... how is this infiltration of the global boys club gonna happen ???? How do WOMEN feel about other WOMEN who internalize Patriarchy? Women who are afraid to call themselves feminists BROWN or WHITE?
Another article, this one from Marie Claire, reads, "Michelle Obama and Melania Trump Had Tea at the White House, and Um...the Internet Has Thoughts." It's supplemented by the sub-headline, "Looking for LOLs wherever we can get them." What follows is a slew of memes and tweets that essentially mock them both, neglecting to report on any topics the two discussed. We've got to be mindful of how far we read into our own click bait, of course, but we can't help but wonder whose team our fellow game players are really on.
Laughter is the best medicine, sure, especially in times as dismal as these, but Blanco is on to something. His argument, which goes even further and puts gender equality and internalized patriarchy by women into question, is a special one. Maybe the industry does need to change the way it trolls those at the top. It's a reminder that we have to change the way we talk about women in politics — even the way we talk about them in fashion spaces. Because if not, it seems as if we're co-signing a world in which the men will continue to discuss the important issues, while their wives sip tea and talk about clothes.
That's a sobering viewpoint, and perhaps one we weren't ready to face. But it's up to us to harness a new language, or to "infiltrate the global boys' club," as Blanco so radically puts it. And hey, maybe he's right. Maybe we do.