On 4chan’s /pol/ board, which stands for politically incorrect, pink comment blocks are filled with Pepe the Frog images and George Soros conspiracy theories. It’s often more absurdist shock-humor under the comfortable cloak of anonymity than anything else. But when inane grandiosity becomes the normal means of communication, the line between humor and political philosophy becomes blurry.
While /pol/ is very pro-Trump, the largely male-dominated board pivots in an interesting direction when talking about any Trump women. In particular, 4chan seems to have a thing for White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, where they praise her for being “solid at her job” and grant her “MILF status.”
Sanders, a conservative socialite and daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, stormed onto the scene after Anthony Scaramucci completely crumbled 10 days into the job. (Turns out, cold-calling a New Yorker reporter and ranting about how Steve Bannon sucks his own cock reflects poorly on the White House.) She also became the administration’s most familiar female face after Kellyanne Conway sidelined herself following a string of TV appearances where she defended Trump so militantly it caused even Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner to cringe.
/pol/ largely views Sanders as competent, albeit with a misogynistic bent. “She got her job by merit and not by her looks,” a 4chan user replies to a post I made asking for general thoughts about Sanders. Threads about Sanders usually devolve, however, into a stream of “thicc” comments that quickly build up to a desire to pounce on her “nice big brown butthole” and/or marry her. “She’s a handsome sturdy woman who can cook and provide heirs,” one thread reads. “I would creampie four sons into her if given the chance.”
Looking through archives of /pol/ threads, some are shocked that there aren’t any Rule 34 images of Sanders — or fake pornography, like the images you see of Elsa from Frozen being fucked by Olaf. (Or Trump and Putin fucking each other.) Others are attacked for finding Sanders attractive at all, with standard middle-school “faggot” insults being thrown around. Meanwhile, the middle attempts to split the difference: “Crazy hot for an uggo,” one guy writes.
It’s slightly peculiar, as the women 4chan tends to find attractive are Emma Watson and anime school girls. But Huckabee Sanders is obviously neither a witch who helped defeat Voldemort nor a student at Sakuragaoka High School in Tokyo. But there is a parallel with how 4chan treats Trump women and how Trump himself views the women around him. “Women, according to Trump, were simply more loyal and trustworthy than men,” Michael Wolff writes in Fire and Fury. It’s based on a notion that women, by nature, are predisposed to care to the needs of a man.
Even when removing Melania from the equation since she’s usually absent from Trump’s day-to-day activities, the president prefers to surround himself with women. Ivanka is clearly the best example — a combination of confidant, advisor and de facto First Lady. But there’s also Hope Hicks, who was his work-daughter before she resigned as communications director after testifying before the House Intelligence Committee that she told “white lies” for the president. Similarly, Sanders is kind of like his mother, willing to defend her child from any and all attacks, regardless of how legitimate or warranted.
In other words, if Trump can use women as avatars for his personal or psychological needs, so can his fans.
4chan, however, is far from indicative of the average Trump supporter on the internet. While 4chan has great influence — and many of its images flow to other parts of the net — it’s still regarded as fringe. To get a better sense of actual Trump supporters online, I reach out to the mods at r/The_Donald, the main Trump subreddit. Unsurprisingly, though, they’re wary of any reporter asking to speak with them — me in particular. I’m immediately accused of supporting terrorism for retweeting a video about fuel shortages in Gaza, and ultimately, I’m banned from the subreddit altogether.
And so, I turn to the mods of r/AskThe_Donald, a slightly more chill sister subreddit of The_Donald dedicated to discussing the Trump presidency. And while the mod demands that I only speak to users within the confines of the Reddit page, he does at least allow me to pose my question. Namely: “What do Trump supporters on Reddit think of Sarah Sanders?”
“In short. She’s a superhero,” user fuktigaste responds. “She’s defending Trump’s agenda from the most experienced ‘gotcha-magicians’ on earth. One slight misstep and the media would blow it out of proportion for sure and drag her through the proverbial streets. Trump put his entire political career in her hands, so he must trust her a great lot, so there can be no room for doubt about her competence in his mind.”
“Yep, everything you just said,” -StupidFace- adds. “She stands up there and takes the heat from the crooked dishonest media on a daily basis. She’s got one of the worst jobs, and knocks it out of the park every time. She’s a superhero for sure.”
“How much of those ‘daily press beatings’ are because of some of the wild things coming from the administration?” I respond to -StupidFace-. “Things like the Stormy Daniels stuff, or the ‘shithole’ countries stuff? Since she is the main communicator to the press, does she take the brunt of the questioning of crazy headlines like these?”
“But wasn’t ‘shithole’ fake news?” -StupidFace- answers back. “You had people running around like he said it, and others saying, ‘What? I never heard him say that.’ They are still running around like its 100% confirmed. Stormy Daniels? I think she needs more porno views… Let’s see where this goes? Lots of media attention then fade away to be forgotten about.
“Did the press ever scream ‘are you a racist’ to any other president? The press pool has lost its mind, they feel their only job is to figure out how we can use this press briefing to slam and smear. … [So] you can understand why we don’t have any love for the press. They way overplayed their hand, and they aren’t about to stop now.”
“I see a lot of the attacks on Sarah are very sexist,” writes SarahSanTA, a conservative Democrat. “They often make fun of her appearance on SNL and for some reason feminists do not stand up for her.”
“At the end of the day, conservative women are still women and the way that feminists/women attack women like Ivanka, Melania, Sarah and Kellyanne is very indicative that feminism is code for liberal and does not advocate for women as a whole. I feel very sad and disappointed anytime someone says conservative women deserve to get raped or abused because they support those ‘values’ and I see that rhetoric often with Sarah. You would think for all the hulabulloo about ‘manterrupting’ and ‘mansplaining’ they would defend her!
“When the press attempts to redirect to the same question over and over which she has already answered, I respect that she doesn’t entertain it but will still make light of it. Personally, I wouldn’t be able to do that job but she always has grace. She doesn’t cuss and has class. She makes me laugh, she’s relatable, she has work-life balance, I’m happy with the job she’s doing, and she seems like a happy person.
“I don’t think representation matters as much to men, but as a conservative woman (in a liberal city) I’m happy seeing another visible conservative woman. I don’t feel comfortable telling people I’m conservative here but maybe if enough of us come out it won’t be so weird.”
Sander’s lazy eye and weight, coupled with her deep Southern accent, have made her an easy target for gaffes about her intelligence. It compounds the stereotype that those who don’t look physically fit and speak in a non-coastal accent aren’t as well-informed, are less cultured and doggedly stubborn. For Trump supporters, this is clear hypocrisy. While actresses on SNL might jump on feminist Twitter hashtags or decry attacks on a woman’s appearance, as SarahSanTA articulates, they feel conservative women aren’t afforded the same consideration because of their political leaning. It only contributes to feelings of media conspiracy against conservatism and Trump.
Of course, nuance isn’t 4chan’s strong suit. And so, back over on /pol/, the meaning of Sarah Huckabee Sanders is couched in much blunter terms: “She’s smart, and I’d definitely fuck her.”