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On Slut Shaming Melania Trump

There is a curious response to the sharing of nude photos of Melania Trump via social media wherein a certain type of liberal commenter immediately jumps to the conclusion that she is being slut shamed. I understand and appreciate the underlying impulse, but it is wrong.

Take this meme, for example…

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Personally, I have no problem whatsoever with this photo in terms of provenance or content. It was not hacked nor was it shared by an angry ex-lover; it was the product of a photo shoot for a French men’s magazine, clearly intended for public consumption. There was no expectation of privacy surrounding her participation in this photo shoot, which she was paid for. Indeed, as far as I am aware, none of the racy photos of the soon-to-be First Lady currently in circulation come from sources that could be characterized as illegitimate.

As far as content…well, again, I just have no problem with anything I’m seeing here. I see two beautiful women locked in a sensual embrace. I have no problem with people displaying their nude bodies. I have no problem with people engaging in sexual acts between consenting adults. I have no problem with homosexuality. In other words, there is nothing to be ashamed of here. If I share it, as a person who has no moral objection to its content, I am not shaming anyone involved in the photo.

So what about the sort of person who thinks a photo like this is something to be ashamed of? What of the people who buy into and perpetuate the idea of sluttiness as a construct? It is only from their perspective that sharing this photo might be called slut shaming. The goal of sharing it is to make them confront it from their sexually repressed little corner of the universe…the corner from which they so often like to judge some people but not others.

I celebrate this photo, just as I would celebrate a similar photo involving Michelle Obama if such a photo existed, which it does not. My position is 100% consistent in all real and imagined versions of reality. The same cannot be said for those on the other side of the political spectrum.

It is important to note here that the reverse situation would very much be slut shaming. A hypothetical conservative citizen who views such things as morally repugnant who shared, as the above meme imagines, a similar photo of Michelle Obama would clearly be motivated by a desire to debase her in the eyes of likeminded fellow citizens.

Both beauty and shame are in the eye of the beholder. As liberals, we are not responsible for the shame that conservatives attach to the naked human form, to homosexuality, to guilt-free participation in sexual activity of various kinds with various partners of various genders. If they are ashamed of what they see here, perhaps they should have objected to it with the same vociferousness with which they happily attack the LGBTQ community with words, actions and pieces of legislation.

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Published in Election 2016 Politics Sex

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