I was so happy when I saw the “SNL” skit for the first time with the brilliant Melissa McCarthy decked out as Sean Spicer, guzzling gum, throwing tantrums, blasting the press for questioning Trump’s Muslim ban, destroying language itself, and offering an imaginary narrative, while accusing journalists of spreading fake news.
It was a blistering characterization that not only ridiculed the incompetent, know-nothing Spicer, but highlighted the undercurrent of violence in Trump’s blustering, authoritarian administration that aims to rule through sheer domination, destabilizing tactics, and fear.
McCarthy seemed the perfect choice after her role as Detective Shannon Mullins in the movie “The Heat,” with her potty-mouthed rage and extreme physical comedy. You want fury? She’s a bundle of it. Want fearlessness? I can’t think of a male actor in recent times who’s thrown their body around as audaciously as McCarthy.
It seemed irrelevant that she was doing it drag. The script didn’t mention women, and Alex Baldwin’s fake blonde wig seemed more of a stretch than her thinning brown wig and ill-fitting suit. She dominated the room, not with a dick, but the pure force of her personality. What did gender have to do with anything?
But then the news broke that what had Trump and Spicey going nuts was not so much the portrait of Spicer as an enraged, gum-chewing, shit-gibbon, but that he was played by a woman. Once we heard that, the game was on. Rosie O’Donnell replaced her Twitter profile with a convincing image of herself as Steve Bannon.
Stephen Colbert declared, “If the president thinks a woman playing Sean Spicer makes him look weak, then he’s really not going to like this picture we made of a little girl pretending to be Donald Trump. And he’s especially not going to like it when you retweet at him with the hashtag #largerhands.”
This statement, which came with the release of a photo of a little girl in a pink dress with a big Trump wig, was where I started to squirm. Because there’s a big difference between a grown woman laying bare the rage of a toxic white masculinity and a photo of a pretty little girl in a Trump wig designed to impugn his manhood, not critique it.
Apparently, the only thing worse than being a little girl is throwing like one, crying like one. What could be worse, in fact, than being a man touched by femininity? A fucking fag? A trans woman who abdicated her rights in a man’s world? Sorry, but we don’t need more misogyny — ever. So fuck you, Stephen Colbert. And everybody whose Trump-baiting humor doesn’t go beyond jokes about Trump’s small, feminine hands.
This is especially important with the renaissance of White Nationalism, where the subjugation of women by men is the model for every other domination — Christians over Muslims, whites over blacks, straights over queers, good old American English over every other language, every nation in the world. Yeah, let’s grab ‘em all by the pussy. Who’s the bitch, now?
The control of female bodies, forcing us to remain pregnant and have children whether we want to or not, is not a separate issue from the control of black and brown bodies in the street, and workplace, and school. The defense, even encouragement, of domestic violence against women is the same as the bullying of certain young white males to insure they remain in their place. On top. And know what to do once they get there.
Using a little girl to attack Trump actually reminded me of Lynndie England — the US Army Reserve private serving in Iraq who got her 15 minutes of fame for agreeing to pose for a photo holding the leash of a naked detainee cowering on the ground at Abu Ghraib prison. In another, she gave a thumbs-up behind a pyramid of naked prisoners. In another, she smiled as a guy was forced to whack off.
She was one of the few who went to jail for abuse of prisoners, but women soldiers under Bush were regularly used to humiliate men who were compelled to crawl on the floor, wear women’s underwear, pose naked. Men were also forced to engage in homosexual acts. Let’s humiliate those Muslim bastards any way we can.
While Colbert didn’t torture anybody, the image of the little girl was used in the same way — to pollute, to provoke disgust and ridicule. Like the “SNL” jokes about Trump’s attraction for a bare-chested Putin.
Nothing good will come of it. It never has. The Abu Ghraib photos boosted anti-US sentiment worldwide, became big recruiting tools for Al Qaeda, were cited for the execution of American Nicholas Berg, and set back progress for women and queers.
In the US, sneering only at his masculinity might piss off Trump, but it won’t help us, won’t do anything to undercut his desire to be a “real man” and dominate America by violence, instability, and hate.
Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.