The XX Factor

When Melania Trump Is Thanking You for “Support[ing] Women,” Something Is Very Wrong

Emily Ratajkowski and Melania Trump.

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images and Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Let’s try to sort out what’s going on with Emily Ratajkowski and Melania Trump. OK, so Melania Trump, you’ll recall, is our embattled first lady. And Ratajkowski you might know from her breakout performance in the “Blurred Lines” music video and movies like Gone Girl and We Are Your Friends. On Monday, Ratajkowski tweeted that a journalist she sat next to, presumably at a private event, had told her that Melania was a “hooker.”

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Later that day, Melania thanked Ratajkowski for her support.

The reporter was Jacob Bernstein of the New York Times, and on Tuesday Bernstein apologized for what he said.

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So there you go: Don’t call anyone a hooker in the presence of Emily Ratajkowski, because she is not here for that. While protesting slut-shaming is a valid stance, if this seems like an annoying nontroversy, well, that might be an even more a valid stance. It’s not funny or amusing that a reporter saw fit to throw around the word hooker, but it’s also not clear that calling it out was the best use of Ratajkowski’s energies or platform. Much has been written about the riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in pearls that is Melania, and while it’s hard to say how much she should be held accountable for her husband’s politics (which she has at times upheld and other times seemed to distance herself from), I think we can all agree not to call her a hooker without patting ourselves on the back for it.

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Then there’s Ratajkowski. In the modern fame pantheon, Ratajkowski occupies a special place in the emerging category of “woke models.” Most of her activism concerns owning your sexuality and fighting against objectification. So when she posts hot pictures, it’s not about getting likes or validation but about pushing back on the male gaze. (Her most brilliant move, though, in age when you are your handle, was to shorten her hard-to-spell name to just “emrata.” A master stroke.) Vogue has cataloged the times she has “fought the patriarchy” and she’s spoken to Glamour about sexual double standards. Witness her current pinned tweet, a word salad expressing vague sentiments of anti-anti-women-ness:

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It’s not that she’s wrong, it’s more like … stop trying to educate me about feminism, @emrata. When defending Melania, why not also point out how much her husband’s administration’s policies stand to hurt women’s rights and safety? It’s for these same reasons that Melania’s thank-you message to Ratajkowski rings hollow. In addition to the fact that her husband has launched gender-specific attacks on women of the very nature Ratajkowski was criticizing, the notion of “support[ing] other women” just because we’re all in this together, ladies, is reductive and not a productive stance. What has Melania done to support real women who are not members of her family? If we really want to support women, we need less woke models speaking out on Twitter and more people actually taking action.

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