In this strangest of primary seasons, women exist primarily in terms of their relationships to the men they marry or question or critique. They can either be beauties or beasts or “the love of my life.” They can be “crazy” or “losers,” “fat pigs” or “dogs.” They can be mothers and daughters. They can be the currency with which you buy voters’ belief in your machismo and alpha-maleness, or they can be the sand you kick in the face of a “New York bully.” In every case, whether they are assets or liabilities, they are objects. In no case are they people.
What’s the political significance of a naked lady? When the Utah ad went public, it wasn’t long before the predictable calls to leave candidates’ families out of the fray were joined by charges of slut-shaming, and the insistence that a grown woman can pose as she wishes; that as long as it’s her choice, it’s empowering.
Melania Trump might have chosen to pose for GQ, but there’s nothing empowering about the way her husband’s opponents have repurposed her modeling portfolio as revenge porn. Which is precisely what Mr. Trump has done with Megyn Kelly’s GQ shots. Neither woman deserves to suffer for having made the choice to get in front of a camera.
MY guess is that neither one will.