This is the third in a five-day series. Read part one and part two.
Being a lady MAGA celebrity is harder than it looks. A woman who sets out to find fame and fortune by pandering to the worst men in America will soon discover that misogynists hold contradictory expectations that are impossible to square. You’re expected to extol chastity and “purity,” but you’re also expected to gratify the male gaze. Worse, you’re performing for men who have no taste for subtlety in their sexual displays so you’re stuck in the Fox News vision of femininity, which has spread into social media and now even into Congress: blown-out hair, short skirts, massive push-up bras (or breast implants), all surrounding the pouty lips of a woman tsking about how only bad girls need abortions. If people can’t tell whether she’s headed to church or a porn shoot, the MAGA gal knows she’s nailed the look.
A woman who sets out to find fame and fortune by pandering to the worst men in America will soon discover that misogynists hold contradictory expectations that are impossible to square.
For a brief moment in time, it did seem Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., knew how to walk that tightrope between serving a cheesecake aesthetic and preaching about how easy it is to give up birth control. Right up until she went for the junk grab on her date in full view of her fellow audience members at a showing of “Beetlejuice: The Musical” in September. The fellow in question, a Colorado bar owner, returned the favor by jiggling her boobs in a way that made clear what was going on, even in the grainy security video footage.
I would say “who among us,” but, of course, most of us take that behavior inside after high school, whereas, at 37 years old, Boebert is a grandmother. She has even used her family’s history of teenage parenthood as “proof” that real Americans don’t need all that sex-ed and birth control the heathens use. Alas, her fervor for procreation was called into question by the acts captured during a live performance of “Beetlejuice.” She and her buddy crossed a public decency line but fell short of baby-making behavior. Though who knows where it was headed if the couple hadn’t been thrown out as an irate Boebert yelled “Do you know who I am”-style threats at theater security.
Despite being a national laughingstock, Boebert seems hopeful she can just ride this one out. She issued a self-serving “apology” blaming her “public and difficult divorce” and concluding, “I simply fell short of my values.”
Boebert wants forgiveness for her very public sexual behavior while calling for others to be punished for what they do in the privacy of their own homes.
Liberals, of course, do not accept this “apology,” as Boebert refuses to offer grace to others, even as she demands it for herself. This is a woman who gave a speech declaring that “women with women, men with men” are “all lust no love,” and called on the U.S. to put “God back at the center of our country,” an unsubtle call to criminalize private same-sex relations. She’s voted against the right to birth control, denounces sex education, and wants to ban abortion. She wants forgiveness for her very public sexual behavior while calling for others to be punished for what they do in the privacy of their own homes.
Boebert is betting her political survival on that famous Republican shamelessness. She’s not wrong, of course, to notice that the same people who want to police your sex life also back Donald Trump, a thrice-married chronic adulterer who famously bragged about sexually assaulting women. But it’s a misread to view this as a sign of hypocrisy, so much as the old-fashioned sexual double standard. For MAGA nation, straight men can do what they want. It’s queer people and women whose sexuality is for policing. And Boebert is, infamously, a woman.
The whole MAGA babe thing depends on selling a lie that right-wing men can have the sexy without the sex. That it’s possible for straight men to get titillated, without having to consider the possibility that women have desires of their own. With the very public groping, however, Boebert blew a hole straight through this conservative fiction. And she may not be able to brazen it out the way so many male Republicans have been able to when they get caught in sex scandals.
Boebert is betting her political survival on that famous Republican shamelessness.
There are reasonable people who disagree with this assessment. I was intrigued by Claire Potter at Political Junkie, who argued that Boebert’s sexual acting-out won’t be a political problem for her with Republican voters. Potter wrote that Boebert “spent a lot of time and energy polishing her reputation as a Gun Chick, a popular erotic figure on the right who we might tentatively define as ‘the slutty girl next door—with a gun.’” Boebert’s schtick, she added, “is supposed to cause Republican dicks to lead the male voters they are attached to into the voting booth.” Since men never took Boebert seriously, Potter claimed, they wouldn’t care about her behavior now.
I’m more skeptical, for the reasons outlined above: Boebert never presented herself as a slut, per se. She instead offered the fantasy sold to men from every corner of the right-wing media ecosystem, from the leggy Fox News pundits to the “tradwives” that proliferate on social media: The hot naif, the woman who is all sex appeal with no sexual yearning. A woman whose body is rocking but whose lack of sexual experiences leaves her too ignorant to know what she wants — and, importantly, unable to judge a man for falling short.
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Boebert centered her history of meeting her husband when she was a teenager and he a full-grown man in her public image for a reason: It’s the misogynist’s wet dream of a sexy girl who doesn’t know any better. She may have run around in tight shirts and booty shorts, but the implication was always that she was tied down young and molded into her husband’s witless helpmeet.
It was always a silly fantasy, of course, but it seems a lot of people believed it. Then Boebert showed she is, in fact, not just an extension of her husband, by getting divorced. The very public groping of her date blew up the whole myth of the sexy-but-not-sexual MAGA woman. Interviews with Republican voters in her district show some are still quite salty about the incident — and Boebert seems to now be running scared.
Late Wednesday, Boebert announced that she planned to ditch her district in a surprise switch ahead of the 2024 election. She almost lost re-election in 2022, squeaking by a margin of only 546 votes despite being in what is supposed to be a bright-red seat — and that was before she got booted out of “Beetlejuice.” Her Democratic opponent in the district, Adam Frisch, has been raking in the campaign donations all year, tripling what Boebert raised in 2023. Now she is stuck running in a crowded GOP primary for a congressional seat on the opposite side of the state from where she lives because she’s too afraid of a rematch even during a year where Donald Trump is likely to be on the top of the ticket. It will be a miracle if she survives this election. MAGA is no place for women.
about MAGA women and their horrible 2023