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Sarah Huckabee Sanders: Warrior Princess? Why Trump’s mean girl press secretary is no Xena

Worst Xena episode ever

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By David Futrelle

Earlier today, browsing my way around Twitter, I ran across something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before: A Sarah Huckabee Sanders meme … made by an actual fan of the bullying, truth-challenged press secretary.

But there it was, in all of its absurd glory, portraying Sanders as a right-wing reincarnation of Xena, the ass-kicking Warrior Princess that captured the hearts of so many feminists and lesbians two decades ago. (And me too, though I might have had a slightly bigger crush on her sidekick Gabrielle.)

That’s Jim Acosta at her feet, by the way.

Pondering this weird juxtaposition of a fictional character I love and a real person I hate, I wondered if there were more out there like this — a vast collection of pro-Sarah-Sanders memes that, in my various excursions into Trumpworld online, I had somehow inexplicably missed?

Oh sure, I’ve seen a lot of memes directed against Sanders — too many of them, unfortunately, mocking her weight, or her oddly asymmetrical eyes, or some other unfortunate physical asset instead of the hateful venality that is the centerpiece of her actual villainy. But I hadn’t seen any pro-Sanders memes I could remember.

After more than a few mostly fruitless searches, I discovered that this was because there really aren’t that many pro-Sanders memes out there. Indeed, earlier this year when one MAGAhead asked the regulars on Reddit’s rabidly pro-Trump forum The_Donald to “post best Sarah memes” he got more than 300 upvotes, but not a single person besides him actually posted a meme.

Oh, sure, the MAGAs love the asshole press secretary. But she’s not really the kind of woman that MAGA men lust over or that MAGA women want to be. Republicans and right-wingers generally like their women to be blond, thin Aryan goddesses or, failing that, just blonde, thin and reasonably Aryan — think Tomi Lahren, or Ann Coulter, or the woman of Fox News. Some brunettes are allowed into the club as well, but only if they’re considered sufficiently glamorous — and that’s a term few would apply to Sanders.

And so, while right-wing memesters are happy to celebrate Melania Trump as “the most beautiful and classy 1st lady in history,” and get straight-up horny-on-main for Ivanka, they have a rougher time glamorizing Sanders:

MAGA memesters are much more comfortable working her into memes that celebrate what they clearly see as the quasi-masculine toughness she shows in shutting down journalists, with many of them constructing Sanders-specific versions of the Thug Life meme.

Those who try to portray her in more traditionally feminine ways often do so by awkwardly grafting her head onto the bodies of women notably thinner than she really is — though, to be fair, as I noted in a previous post, Trump fans often portray Trump himself as thinner and more muscular (often ludicrously so) than the real Trump, who after all is a bit of a pudge.

But these memes don’t really work; even aside from their physical incongruity with the Sarah Sanders we see on TV every day, they don’t capture her aggressive energy. (The Thug Life memes, for all of their ridiculousness, do that much better, though at the cost of downplaying her femininity.)

And so it makes a certain sense that so many MAGA memesters eager to celebrate Sanders should have turned to Xena — a character, as played by Lucy Lawless, who managed to be big and tough and feminine all at once. And a long-haired brunette to boot.

This is hardly the first times that conservatives have tried to claim Xena as their own. In the first George W. Bush administration, White House staffers referred to then-national-security-advisor Condoleezza Rice as their “warrior princess.” And conservative writer Cathy Young — you may remember her as a Gamergate booster who infamously appeared on a triple-bill with Milo Yiannopoulos and Christina Hoff Sommers — once wrote a lengthy appreciation of Xena for Salon, portraying the warrior princess as an Amazonian version of a so-called “equity feminist,” a woman whose feminism consisted of standing up for herself but never actually offering any real critique of sexism or patriarchy.

But Sanders — like Rice before her — makes a pretty lousy Xena. The original warrior princess, you may recall, started her career as a villainous warlord squaring off against Kevin Sorbo as Hercules on his TV series before renouncing her evil ways and teaming up with him.

On her own series, the repentant warrior princess, forever tormented by her past evil deeds, tried her best to redeem herself by fighting for what she called “the greater good.” But because of her past she never thought of herself as a paragon of goodness.

Sanders, by contrast, is a villain who doesn’t seem to know she’s a villain — and if she knows, she certainly doesn’t care. She energetically and aggressively defends Trump’s lies on a daily basis, piling her own lies atop his. She excuses and justifies Trump’s violations of human rights and presidential norms and basic human decency.

And she’s no feminist, not even one of the watered-down “equity” variety: she doesn’t just ignore the patriarchy; she actively supports it — going so far as to aggressively defend Trump’s lie-filled mockery of Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford. If she has a conscience of any sort, she doesn’t seem to have ever displayed it in public.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, I used to watch Xena: Warrior Princess. I was a fan of Xena: Warrior Princess. And you’re no Xena: Warrior Princess.

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Nikki the Bluth Wannabe
Nikki the Bluth Wannabe
1 year ago

The last meme doesn’t even put SHS on Xena’s body-it’s Wonder Woman, as seen in the Zack Snyder movies. Which may be an even more egregious awful person/awesome fictional character mismatch.

Austin G Loomis
Austin G Loomis
1 year ago

think Tomi Lahren, or Ann Coulter, or the woman of Fox News.

I try not to think about Takara Lionel, or the Cryptkeeper’s less pleasant relative, or any of the Stepford anchors, unless absolutely necessary.

ETA: If there’s ever a new post on Sadly, No!, one whose comments are still open, you can expect comments-bot “daphne” to post that “think” clause and its surrounding sentence, regardless of their relevance to whatever is the topic of the post.

epitome of incomprehensibility

What’s wrong with how she looks? …Eh, maybe it’s not “what’s wrong” so much as “what doesn’t fit a narrow idea of beauty.” Still, just saying that I don’t register her as non-pretty, even though I don’t like watching her because I don’t want to hear what she says.

Anyway, thanks for the recap of the basic Xena story – I didn’t get into that show as a kid/teenager but it was floating in the background of my cultural consciousness. 🙂

Rabid Rabbit
Rabid Rabbit
1 year ago

@epitome:

By the standards of these people, she’s kind of… well, “chunky” would be one way of putting it. Though I assume they’d use other words.

Please note that I said by their standards, not mine.

Kat, ambassador of the feminist government in exile
Kat, ambassador of the feminist government in exile
1 year ago

Sanders, by contrast, is a villain who doesn’t seem to know she’s a villain — and if she knows, she certainly doesn’t care.

Clearly, Sarah is Xena before she was Xena. She’s a Xena in the making, a potential Xena, and her transformation from enabler-of-a-warlord to rescuer-of-the-oppressed will happen any damn day now.

Ooglyboggles
Ooglyboggles
1 year ago

The Long Legs sleeping next to my laptop does more to help me than Sarah Sanders ever has.

Nequam
Nequam
1 year ago

@epitome: I’ve seen better-looking women than Sarah– and worse-looking ones, for that matter. Ultimately, though, it boils down to what Zappa sang about:

Vucodlak
Vucodlak
1 year ago

I sometimes find myself thinking, about Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Ann Coulter or Ben Shapiro, something like “you’re pretty cute.” However, it’s always followed by a line from one of my favorite songs (“Leave a Light on, Thomas” by Ego Likeness):*

…but all I see is the blood you’ve spilt.

Which, incidentally, is something I’d never think about Xena, even with the whole ‘former-warlord and traveling, ass-kicking hero’ thing. Xena may have spilled a lot of blood, but she has actual positive traits.

*Prior to first hearing the song a few years back, it was just “…but you’re still a contemptible asshole.” Sometimes it still is, but the new way has more poetry.

Tovius
Tovius
1 year ago

Well this is just sad.

Jo
Jo
1 year ago

What makes Huckabee-Sanders utterly like Xena is surely that she isn’t fighting for any particular principles or even for her own victory. She’s debasing herself for her boss, a man of no principles himself.

Dr. Thang
Dr. Thang
1 year ago

It really is true what they say, the right can’t make decent memes to save their lives. Why is it that all the funniest people are liberals? The only right leaning people I can think of who are even remotely funny are these perpetually bitter whining “old man yells at cloud” comics who I can’t tolerate for long regardless of their politics. I can’t tell if it’s because people on the right are always too mad to lighten up and actually make a joke instead of a humorless attack on their enemies, or if it’s because being funny requires a certain cleverness and sense of irony that the right just doesn’t have.

rugbyyogi
rugbyyogi
1 year ago

20 years ago?? David you must have your math wrong!!

(oh yeah it was 20 years ago – and more…)

My favourite moment was when Xena and Gabrielle were bored and did charades. Gabrielle’s turn and I blurted out to the screen “Iphegenia at Aulis!” My ex was like “What?”. Xena didn’t get it either, but I was right…

rugbyyogi
rugbyyogi
1 year ago

Oh and Sarah could be a warrior princess – but Xena had to do a lot of self-reflection and renounce evil.

The first step to becoming a warrior princess is the hardest.

Victorious Parasol
Victorious Parasol
1 year ago

I’d rather have Lucy Lawless at my back than SHS. Lawless was in New Orleans when Katrina hit, but after her evacuation, she worked to raise money and otherwise help those devastated by the hurricane.

Bluecat
Bluecat
1 year ago

Nothing wrong with her looks.

It’s her expression: grumpy, miserable, mean. Based on the theory everyone over 40 has the face they deserve – well, oh dear.

And her behaviour. She has a choice over her behaviour.

But, I don’t know: there’s something depressingly predictable about deciding the women you agree with politically must be “hot” and feeling the need to announce it (and the converse: the moment Taylor Swift annoyed people she “became” overweight, ugly and talentless).

It’s almost like someone thinks the arbitrary assignation of “hotness” is a woman’s highest possible accolade.

Moggie
Moggie
1 year ago

@Kat:

Clearly, Sarah is Xena before she was Xena. She’s a Xena in the making, a potential Xena, and her transformation from enabler-of-a-warlord to rescuer-of-the-oppressed will happen any damn day now.

So, she’s a kind of Xenamorph?

She’s a thoroughly hateful person, but, eh, she’s a Huckabee: what do you expect? As far as I can see, the family is infused with a particularly malignant form of Christianity, which allows them to believe they’re good people while lying through their teeth, shitting on the poor, killing dogs, whatever.

Katamount
Katamount
1 year ago

Nope, still can’t imagine taking precious minutes out of my life to make these dreadful memes.

And I’ve spent hours perfecting the branching veins on animal person boners.

Besides, we all know who the greatest Warrior Princess/Princess Warrior is:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ID9jp3VlQX0

Yup, don’t want to get on the bad side of a veteran Newfie comedian like Mary Walsh. Rob Ford found that out the hard way.

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee
weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee
1 year ago

Here’s an interesting article.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/11/29/how-donald-trump-appeals-to-men-secretly-insecure-about-their-manhood/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.147e0a400b5d

To the surprise of no one here, I’m sure, there’s evidence that fragile masculinity caused men to vote for Trump.

Ok, that’s overselling it, but there’s a correlation anyway.

Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
1 year ago

warning, the following contains lethal doses of sarcasm and right-wing-level ignorance….

there’s evidence that fragile masculinity caused men to vote for Trump.

Fragility masculinity is present in a lot of our decisions… almost like it’s a real thing!

Interesting article in the link… but I can easily refute ALL the conclusions… “Nuh-uh!!! Ain’t so!!!”

… and I didn’t even have to READ the article!

Talonknife
Talonknife
1 year ago

Not Xena, just xenophobic.

Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
1 year ago

@ Talonknife:

Xena and Xeno were dieties from two separate mythological roots. Xena is a Greek idol from the land of “MCA TV”, to help others and enrage fragile men….

Xeno is a Latin American idol and God of “Comin’ After Yer Wimmen”… which is why fargile men are Xeno-phobic….

Content warning for heart palpitations….

Rabid Rabbit
Rabid Rabbit
1 year ago

@Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie

And let’s not forget about Xenu!

Full Metal Ox
1 year ago

These guys do know that Xena and Wonder Woman are both canonically queer, right?

Full Metal Ox
1 year ago

These guys do know that Xena and Wonder Woman are both canonically queer, right? (Oh, wait–in Dudebro World, lesbian equals “challenge” and/or “for MY viewing pleasure!”; bisexual wlw equals, “2/3 of a threesome–with MEEE!”)

Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
1 year ago

off-topic

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-11-29/nra-s-good-guy-with-a-gun-fable-is-rewritten

nra’s fable is actually “a WHITE guy with a gun” The reality is, if a good person tries to use a gun to stop a bad person with a gun, the current odds very much favor the good person with a gun getting aced by the cops.

Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
1 year ago

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/29/four-years-hottest-record-climate-change

… we’re fast approaching the point where saying “Nuh uh” isn’t going to stop the ice from melting….

Moggie
Moggie
1 year ago

As far as I can tell from her twitter, Lucy Lawless is a genuinely awesome person. But it’s got to be a bit weird for her, the way that everyone posts GIFs of her as Xena, from twenty-odd years ago.

griffon8
griffon8
1 year ago

My favorite comment about SHS’s look is that she always looks like she just asked to speak to you manager.

C4t
C4t
1 year ago

These guys do know that Xena and Wonder Woman are both canonically queer, right?

Xena, yes. Diana, not really. Or depends on the writer.

For most of her run she’s been assumed to be mainly straight, sometimes with bi tendencies.

Bina
1 year ago

Not really sure how all that “Thug Life” ‘shopping is supposed to make her look actually cool. If anything, it just lends credence to the idea that she’s got to be high on something to be spouting so much blatant bullshit.

Also, since when is Xena anyone’s press flack/lackey/flunkie? She’s supposed to be the one with the sidekick, not the sidekick herself!

Ah well. As usual, all it goes to show is that the right can’t meme for shit.

(It is kind of touching, in a pathetic way, that they would TRY to make her look like something better than she is, though.)

Fishy Goat
Fishy Goat
1 year ago

@Katamount <3

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