A.J. Delgado Proves that Complicit Women Will Always Become Disposable to Sexist Men

A.J. Delgado built her career on a dubious foundation; she made it her job to stick up for sexist men and attack women who happened to get in their way. On Breitbart.com, she contributed pieces with headlines like: “Gay N.J. Waitress Has A History Of Lying, According To New Report” and “N.J. ‘Receipt-Hoax’ Gay Waitress May Have Kept Donations.” Later, she joined Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, where she served as a mouthpiece willing to add the phrase “as a woman” to incredibly misogynist sentiments the Trump team was pushing at the time. To wit, when the New York Times published a story on the women who alleged that Trump had sexually assaulted them, Delgado said in a spot with TV host Chris Hayes that “I take great offense to [the story] as a woman,” adding that “if somebody actually [harassed them], Chris, any reasonable woman would have come forward and said something at the time.”

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Ideas like the ones Delgado promoted have historically been used to counter feminism. So, you may be wondering; how’s that working out for her? Actually, not well. Earlier this month, Delgado revealed in an interview with The Atlantic how she found out Jason Miller, who was married at the time and a fellow staffer on the Trump campaign, had gotten her pregnant. (Miller’s attorney did not respond to ELLE.com’s request for comment.) According to the piece, she currently lives “with her mother in Miami, without a job in politics, largely abandoned by the movement she helped lead to victory.” That is, despite her deep allegiance to the conservative movement’s anti-women flank, A.J. Delgado still wound up getting the shit end of the patriarchy stick. She proves it: no matter how prepared a woman is to prop up the sexist men around her, her association with them won’t save her.

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It’s hard to feel bad for Delgado, but it’s easy to be depressed by the situation. For better or worse, Delgado would be fine if she were a man. And for once, this isn’t some feminist truism. The fact is that Jason Miller, a man, and Delgado, a woman, are in the exact same situation, and yet Jason Miller, a man, is fine. While Miller did turn down the job of White House communications director, he’s since landed a CNN gig and continues to work at a consulting firm. Also, he is somehow still married to the woman he cheated on.

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Meanwhile, Delgado is now living with her mother and without the cushy network job, an almost preordained outcome in a culture that frames men’s sexuality as a force of nature and women’s sexuality as a sin. When married men have affairs, well, boys will be boys; when women have sex with married men, they’re morally bankrupt home wreckers who should crisp in hell. No surprise, Delgado’s choice to keep her pregnancy earned her little support from her anti-choice friends. (“There were some…very high-profile people who are supposedly pro-life, who knew me and heard about what happened, and who didn’t reach out,” she told The Atlantic. “You see these people saying, ‘Oh, we should reach out to women with unexpected pregnancies and let them know they’re not alone’—and I’m like, ‘I’m right here!'”)

Yes, Delgado was a faithful foot soldier to the movement; yes, she worked to elect a president who insisted that “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who abort and a vice-president who has sworn that “we will not rest until we restore a culture of life in America for ourselves and our posterity.” But when she found herself in precisely the situation that implores women to “choose life,” she discovered what we all know — that her ideological bedfellows have always cared a lot more about making premarital sex dangerous for women than they have about supporting single-parent or non-traditional families.

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So, no, none of this is a great shock, especially not to those who’ve suffered at the whims of a sexist culture before. But the fact that Delgado seems surprised— that’s novel. This is a woman who devoted herself to the promulgation of philosophies that rested on the inherent worthlessness of women; she personally used her position “as a woman” to publicly trash and shame women for their sexuality and life choices, whether they were Trump’s accusers or that unfortunate waitress. Yet when that same philosophy eventually deemed Delgado worthless and made her the target of trashing and shaming in turn — she avoided social media throughout her pregnancy, she says, because the amount of harassment she faced made her fear that her stress levels were negatively impacting the fetus — she was shocked. There’s a pure, hideous naïveté in comments like this one, in which Delgado describes how hard it’s been to “stand up for herself:” “You feel like you’re being stubborn; that you’re supposed to kind of acquiesce to what everyone else’s requests are—and if you don’t, you’re just this crazy girl.”

Like The Handmaid Tale’s Serena Joy, there will always be women willing to bolster the systems that oppress them.

Well, yes, A.J. Making women feel bitchy and crazy when they stand up for themselves is, indeed, a big part of how sexism works. Did you not pick up on that when you were on cable news attacking women for claiming your boss groped them?

Like The Handmaid Tale’s Serena Joy, there will always be women willing to bolster the systems that oppress them. And, like Delgado and Serena, too, those women are often blind to the dangers of their position until it’s too late. Standing up to patriarchy is intimidating. Women who do it are deemed crazy, bitchy, unattractive, unprofessional, strident, selfish, dishonest, vengeful, snowflakes, hysterics, too hard-assed, too sensitive, too slutty, too prudish, and much, much worse. A million presumptions will be made about how much we weigh (a lot) and how many cats we have (many) and whether we will ever get it together enough to know the sweet, sweet love of a man. (Shortly after my own child’s birth, I got an e-mail reading, “I’m guessing your [sic] a single mother”). To be fair, being fat and having a bunch of cats and never having to date a man sounds tremendously fun, and I can think of several women in my life for whom that is probably a description of heaven.

But there’s no question that defending feminism in public does indeed put a person through the gauntlet. And so maybe it makes some kind of twisted sense that women who are vocally anti-feminist believe they’ve insulated themselves against the vitriol. After all, they do buy themselves a temporary form of protection; namely, they make themselves useful to male misogynists. Aren’t those men are always grateful for a female voice willing to claim that their sexist behavior is not at all oppressive? The very existence of their female defenders sends the not-so-subtle message that the women who challenge them are freaks. And some women, like Delgado, can make entire careers out of vouching for them. But even those who don’t go pro find a thousand small ways to make themselves as complicit, as unthreatening, as “not like the other girls” as possible.

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Women can mistake the conditional acceptance that men offer them in these situations for the feeling that they’re valued. But structural sexism doesn’t care if you’re “one of the guys” or not. The social safety net that Republicans are set on eviscerating or obstructing — health care, child care, good public education — would be particularly helpful to, say, a single mother dealing with a major career setback. On the Trump campaign, Delgado poured her heart and soul into making those services harder to obtain. Whoops.

Of course, Delgado’s misfortune is ultimately her own, and, for the record, I don’t doubt that the pain she feels is real. But, as she’s finding out, when you embrace a worldview founded on the idea that you are disposable, or at least inferior, you can’t predict when your “friends” will turn around and dispose of you or cast you out. What you should know is that it can happen and that you’ve already helped them prepare their excuses. No matter how hard any given woman works to support sexist men or play by their rules, at the end of the day, all she has done is made it easier for those men to destroy her. An honest enemy is better than a false friend, and there are worse things than getting yelled at, after all.

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