Well, that was fast: Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s former White House press secretary and the daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), has been elected the first female governor of Arkansas. Sanders ran as—you guessed it!—a rabidly anti-abortion Republican, and famously declared one month after the Uvalde school shooting that as governor, she would ensure that “when a kid is in the womb, they’re as safe as they are in a classroom.”
Sanders has been elected during a veritable golden age for utterly batshit Republican women representing so-called “pro-life feminism,” which inherently cannot exist. As press secretary of Donald Trump’s White House, Sanders was oft paraded before reporters to announce the administration’s attacks on birth control coverage, disparage women who accused Trump of sexual assault, and assert that allegations sexual misconduct allegations against men should only be believed if they’ve confessed. Sanders even appeared to laugh when asked a question about the millions of American women who would lose access to birth control coverage. In this regard, much like Ivanka, Sanders became a convenient female face the administration could use to help tie a feminist bow over some of its worst attacks on women’s rights.
Sanders will succeed Arkansas’ current Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, whom I’ll always remember as the man who claimed to be concerned by the potential for his state’s abortion ban to force rape victims to carry their rapists’ babies.
It goes without saying that symbolic representation is meaningless—if not more insulting—when barrier-breaking women leaders use their power to make life even worse for the women and marginalized people who have less power than they do. Republicans will inevitably spin Sanders’ election as a feminist victory, but it’s really just another rich white woman enforcing laws that force pregnant people and rape victims to give birth.