Is Michelle Obama the Antidote to Trump’s Misogyny?

By Alessandra Ram

Michelle Obama can’t stop thinking about Donald Trump’s comments on that tape. And neither can women in America.

“This is not something that we can ignore. It’s not something we can just sweep under the rug as just another disturbing footnote in a sad election season,” Obama told an audience at a rally for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire.

“It is cruel. It’s frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts. It’s like that sick, sinking feeling you get when you’re walking down the street minding your own business and some guy yells out vulgar words about your body. Or when you see that guy at work that stands just a little too close, stares a little too long, and makes you feel uncomfortable in your own skin.”

For the second time this election season, the media was blown away by Michelle Obama’s ability to so clearly articulate something the rest of us are struggling to put words on or to grasp. But unlike her speech at the DNC in Philadelphia this summer, this wasn’t just for Democratic voters; it was for all women in America. Women who, when last week’s smoking pu**y gun came out, were already fed up with this election’s rhetoric. Women who are fed up with being told why this tape is offensive, because being demeaned is an all-too-familiar feeling. We recognize rape culture when we see it. We deal with this behavior — and the threat of this behavior — every day, no thanks to the policies and paternalism of lawmakers who cannot seem to fathom women are functioning human beings with control over our own bodies, defined by more than our relationships to men.

“It’s that feeling of terror and violation that too many women have felt when someone has grabbed them, or forced himself on them and they’ve said no but he didn’t listen — something that we know happens on college campuses and countless other places every single day.”

Women don’t want to hear more faux political analysis from men on TV about why this, THIS, is the thing that will sink the Trump campaign. No — we want to hear from other women, specifically from one of the most visible woman in the world.

As the nation’s first African American First Lady, the juxtaposition of Michelle Obama against Donald Trump (the embodiment of white, male privilege, whose outreach to “the blacks,” as he likes to say, has been abysmal) is stunning.

“This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful. It is intolerable,” she said.

By refusing to normalize it, by refusing to utter Trump’s name, Obama made women feel more powerful than they have throughout this gendered election cycle.

While mainstream media coverage of this campaign has too often fixated on various aspects of the degradation of the female body — Clinton’s smile and shimmy or the way Trump talks about women — the First Lady has always put forth a body-positive image, one that champions healthy eating, exercising and yes, being sexually attracted to one’s partner.

This speech felt urgent. It was resoundingly female, and feminist. Michelle Obama showed up to defend the honor of women in America. She’s just as angry as we are.

You can read the full transcript of her speech here.