Kellyanne Conway is no 'badass' – and she's certainly no feminist

Arwa Mahdawi


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Kellyanne Conway: feminist icon?

Kellyanne Conway frequently makes me want to use the F word – and, believe me, that word isn’t feminist. There is, after all, nothing remotely feminist about Conway. As Donald Trump’s campaign manager she was instrumental in getting an alleged sexual predator elected to the highest office in the land. As counselor to the president, she plays an integral part in advancing the Trump administration’s racist and misogynistic agenda. To talk about Conway in terms of “women’s empowerment” is to completely misunderstand what feminism means.

Conway, of course, is a great believer in alternative facts. In her view of the universe, she’s more of a feminist than her critics will ever be. On Thursday Conway told Fox Business that she has no intention of resigning from the White House over Trump’s Twitter feud with her husband George (popularly referred to as “Mr Kellyanne Conway”, according to an angry tweet by Trump.) I won’t recap this deeply tedious feud, but it is basically two grown men, one of them the president of the United States, yelling at each other on the internet.

Related: Trevor Noah: Trump 'has a separate chequebook for paying off porn stars'

“I know George was quoted recently as saying ‘I wish she didn’t work [in the White House],’” Conway said to Fox. “But what message would [quitting] send to the feminists everywhere who pretend they’re independent thinkers, and men don’t make decisions for them? They can talk it and I can walk it. I can live it.” I’m not entirely sure whether that means she’s staying in her job to validate feminists or to irritate them, but one gets the not-so-subtle impression she’s having a dig.

Conway may have felt empowered to lecture feminists thanks to her recent appearance on CNN’s series Badass Women of Washington. The entire series, which profiles women like Nancy Pelosi, Elaine Chao, and Dianne Feinstein, has been a pretty vapid exercise in corporate feminism; however the puff piece on Conway was particularly embarrassing. It celebrates the fact that Conway, a mother, wife, and career woman, seems to be “doing it all” while brushing over the fact that “all” includes a lot of incredibly unethical things. There’s no mention, for example, of Conway irresponsibly imploring people to read the New Zealand mosque shooter’s manifesto. There’s no mention of the time she defended Trump’s Muslim ban by blaming refugees for the fictitious “Bowling Green massacre”. There’s no mention of the fact she balances being a mother with working for an administration that is separating migrant children form their mothers.

There is no doubt that Conway is a strong, intelligent, successful woman. As CNN point out, she is the “first female campaign manager of a successful presidential campaign.” But she is not a feminist, she is not an inspiration, and she is not a badass. As she has shown us time and time again, she is simply a bad person.

Chick-fil-A: tastes like homophobia

Newly released tax filings, dug up by ThinkProgress, show that in 2017 the Chick-fil-A Foundation gave more than $1.8m to groups with a record of anti-LGBTQ discrimination. While the fast food chain has a long history of homophobia, it has claimed to be turning over a new, less bigoted, leaf. These tax filings would seem to contradict this. Chick-fil-A has responded to the new controversy by saying it is “inaccurate and misleading”.

Steinhardt sexual harassment allegations

On Thursday, the New York Times reported that Michael Steinhardt, a New York billionaire, and co-founder of Birthright Israel, has been accused of a “pattern of sexual harassment”.

“Institutions in the Jewish world have long known about his behavior, and they have looked the other way,” Shelia Katz, one of the women interviewed in the piece, said. It’s a disturbing report and a vivid example of how bad behavior by powerful men gets ignored and excused.

Beto O’Rourke ‘would trust women’ on abortion

The Democratic presidential candidate was recently asked what his position on last month’s failed “born-alive” legislation was. O’Rourke vaguely replied that he “would have listened to the women that I wanted to represent in the state of Texas.”

Gee, thanks, Beto, good of you to listen! The thing is, had Beto actually been listening to women he might have taken the opportunity to point out that the legislation was a disingenuous attempt by anti-abortion activists to restrict access to legal abortion and push the myth that Democrats want to execute babies after they’re born. Re.Wire News has a good podcast laying out the facts about the “born alive” bills here.

Related: The depressing truth about female creativity and the pram in the hallway | Fiona Sturges

Economics has a gender problem

The American Economic Association has released a pretty dismal “professional climate” survey. Just 25% of female economists felt valued professionally, compared to 47% of men. 69% of women felt their work was not taken as seriously as that of their male colleagues and 48% said they’d experienced sex-based bias within their last 10 years in the profession.

Buccaneers go for two (female coaches)

Sorry, I was trying to make a football joke there but it probably fell flat. Anyway, on Wednesday the Tampa Bay Buccaneers became the first NFL team with two full-time female coaches. In other news, I won’t try to make NFL jokes again.

R Kelly wants to gig in Dubai

Kelly believes he should be able to fly to Dubai. Despite facing 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse, Kelly is apparently in demand as a performer and has asked to gig abroad. His bond conditions state he can’t travel outside Illinois without court permission, which he’s currently trying to secure.

Why women love high heels

Like many women, I love high heels, even though they have completely mangled my feet. Summer Brennan has an interesting new book out unpacking the feminist debate about “womankind’s most public footwear”. The Guardian has an extract here.