Friday 22 September 2017

Fionnuala O'Leary: Hey Donald, Brigitte's shape is not your business... nor her husband's achievement

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and his wife Brigitte pose with U.S. First Lady Melania Trump and U.S President Donald Trump (L) at Les Invalides museum in Paris. REUTERS/Ian Langsdon/Pool
French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and his wife Brigitte pose with U.S. First Lady Melania Trump and U.S President Donald Trump (L) at Les Invalides museum in Paris. REUTERS/Ian Langsdon/Pool
Fionnuala O'Leary

Fionnuala O'Leary

GROPER-IN-CHIEF Donald Trump's unsolicited opinion on Brigitte Macron's physical appearance was bad enough.

The aging pervert had another brain fart which we've all become accustomed to or even fatigued by.

And that's the problem – it's normalised, it's nothing special and we don't even bat an eyelid, never mind burn a bra. 

Old lecherous uncle Don had rolled up at a special occasion and created the usual insulting boorish behaviour that we've all become accustomed to.

But the fact that he compounded the "compliment" by nodding at her husband and commenting "Beautiful. She's in such good physical shape" was worse.

Brigitte had become an extension of Macron and the French President was to be congratulated on having such a fine filly in his possession.

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) greets U.S. First Lady Melania Trump while his wife Brigitte Macron (L) welcomes U.S. President Donald Trump at Les Invalides museum in Paris, France, July 13, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Michel Euler/Pool
French President Emmanuel Macron (R) greets U.S. First Lady Melania Trump while his wife Brigitte Macron (L) welcomes U.S. President Donald Trump at Les Invalides museum in Paris, France, July 13, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Michel Euler/Pool
Brigitte Macron, wife of French President Macron (R), and U.S. First Lady Melania Trump await French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Donald Trump (L) at Les Invalides museum in Paris, France, July 13, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Ian Langsdon/Pool

It was akin to the compliment you'd pay a fellow dog owner in the park – "she has a lovely glossy coat, what breed is she?"

And the fact that Brigitte and Macron stood awkwardly and smiled uncomfortably as they endured the misogynistic, narcissistic behaviour of a man who represents the mind-set of a lot of people from both genders should be a concern for us all.

In the Hollywood version of this event, Brigitte would have turned on her heel and refused to engage with such an ignorant ass.

Macron would have followed his wife and cancelled the visit. Dinner in the Eiffel Tower would not have happened.

But of course this is real life and we all must endure the sycophantic and patriarchal behaviour which envelopes the vast majority of business and politics and get on with the abject harassment for the good of the greater issue.

It was reminiscent of two weeks ago when RTE's Catriona Perry stood in front of an ogling Trump as he near congratulated Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on having a journalist with "a nice smile on her face so I bet she treats you well."

The inner Catriona probably wanted to tell Trump where to go. The professional Catriona was forced to endure it and inwardly pray for the awkward moment to end.

For any right thinking woman to cause a fuss, will instantly label her a hysterical feminist and incur the wrath and attention of a wider group.

And speaking of the feminist label – Macron himself has previously declared himself one. But even he, the charismatic President of France, the self-proclaimed "proudly feminist" leader, has to grin and bear the ogling of his wife because to cause a fuss is just not worth it.

As I sat among an online news conference this morning with a team made up of mostly young women, I was disheartened to see the lack of anger Trump's latest misogynistic antics have stirred.

"That's just the way he is, there's nothing you can do about it." "He's said worse, it's just the way he is, we don't take him seriously." "Sure Bill Clinton probably said the same things."

These are young bright ambitious women in their 20's who are fatigued into apathy by the behaviour of a man who tells the world it's ok to judge a woman on looks alone and judge another man on the appearance of his significant other. 

It's a worrying level of acceptance.

In recent weeks, the revelations about the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in the technology sector have become increasingly common.

Technology bosses are apologising and resigning in increasing numbers as the revelations come out into the public domain.

The business sector which will employ the majority of people going into the future is already rife with perceived gender harassment.

And is there any point in being surprised if the leader of the free world is openly allowed make such comments and gaffes and go unchecked?

And before this gets perceived as a feminist backlash against any compliments by men towards women, that's not what it is.

It is OK for a man, a friend, a husband, a dad, a brother to tell a woman she's looking well – it's nice and it's appreciated.

It's probably not such a good idea to congratulate the person's partner on her physical appearance – it's not their achievement, it's probably down to good genes and hard yards in the gym.

And it's certainly not OK to grab the arm of a woman who you've just met on a state visit, under the glare of the world's media and tell her she's in great shape.

Her shape is not your business Mr. Trump and her shape is certainly not her husband's achievement.

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