#ImWithThem: The Rockettes Shouldn't Have To Perform For Donald Trump (Op-Ed)

The Rockettes in 2016
Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC via Getty Images

The Rockettes on ABC's The Chew on Dec. 16, 2016.

To date, no artist of A-list stature has signed on to sing at Donald Trump’s 2017 presidential inauguration. With all due respect to the slated lineup -- including The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and 16-year-old opera singer Jackie Evancho -- compared to past performers (including Beyonc√©, Kelly Clarkson, and even Aretha Franklin), this roster reads like a holiday extravaganza at an Elks Lodge in central New Jersey. Not even newly blonde bombshell Kanye West has agreed to play, despite sharing his autographed copy of Trump’s TIME Magazine cover on Twitter. 

The musical divide for the inauguration is so deep that in Miami, a Democratic-led concert is reportedly being planned for Inauguration Day (Jan. 21) with big-name acts showing interest in performing. Yet in perhaps his most horrifically bold move, Donald Trump has added a league of women to dance for him: the Rockettes.

After the year women have been subjected to with Trump, they shouldn’t have to entertain him in tights. I can’t say with a straight face that Trump’s 2016 has been horrific for all women, since a majority of them with my same pale hue voted him into office. I was not one of them. However, as with every election cycle, new dirt surfaces. With Trump, we found plague-inducing particles of racism, sexism and special-needs discrimination, among other forms of bigotry. People rolled their collective eyes when Trump was displaying this on an episode of The Apprentice, but now he's leading our country. Trump’s America has already shown to include vile words against immigrants and minorities, and incite hate-based violence that continues to occur under the "Make America Great Again" flag.

Ladies, whether you supported Trump or not, his overt haranguing of women in broad daylight is blatant. We saw sexual assault cases involving him evaporate into the ether, old video footage of him berating women behind the scenes with television personality Billy Bush, dated recordings with his dated opinions on women that he still regurgitates today. We were re-introduced to his fat shaming of Rosie O’Donnell, and while Hillary Clinton (“such a nasty woman," Trump said at one point during the debates) shoved Miss Universe Alicia Machado’s name down our throats, we were reminded of Trump’s creepy and judge-y relationship with the national pageant he co-owned.

Now, the Rockettes, known for delivering their leggy, strictly coordinated dances at New York's Radio City, will have to high-kick their bare legs in the air for America’s new daddy. It’s pretty sad and gross if you think about it. In their 80-year existence, the Rockettes have been known as gorgeous ladies who do their iconic March of the Wooden Soldiers for the likes of the U.S. Navy to random tourists and natives during their Christmas Spectacular. Their mere existence is arguably soemething of a headache for progressive women, as black-and-white movies where charlatan businessmen ogle skilled female dancers play on projectors in our heads. But then we’re reminded that all year-round, the Rockettes hold other careers and also do their own hair and makeup. They’re more than their self-applied rouge.

Yet here we are, inching into the Trump Era -- fueled by every -ism known to privileged white men -- with these poor Rockettes ushering him into his role as the nation's 45th Commander-in-Chief. They shouldn’t have to carry that burden. One Rockette, Phoebe Pearl, has boldly taken umbrage with their scheduled performance over social media. She also shed some light on the fact that this wasn’t a Rockettes group decision: “Finding out that it has been decided for us that Rockettes will be performing at the Presidential inauguration makes me feel embarrassed and disappointed,” she wrote.

There is one caveat: MSG Entertainment, owners of the Rockettes, also told Billboard's sister site The Hollywood Reporter in a statement that "it is always their choice," and that some of the dancers had even volunteered to perform for the inauguration, which has yet to be confirmed among the Rockettes themselves. "The Radio City Rockettes are proud to participate in the 58th Presidential Inaugural," the statement read. "For a Rockette to be considered for an event, they must voluntarily sign up and are never told they have to perform at a particular event, including the inaugural. It is always their choice. In fact, for the coming inauguration, we had more Rockettes request to participate than we have slots available. We eagerly await the inaugural celebrations."

So how exactly will this scenario go down at the Inauguration as Trump watches The Rockettes perform? Will the "hooded Kermit" meme of Trump’s mind fall along these lines: 

Trump: Ah, look at those Rockettes. Very bigly celebration of me. How lovely.

Also Trump: Grab them by the p---y.

It’s hardly a laughing matter, but it helps to keep from crying. The Rockettes dancing for Donald Trump when it wasn’t their choice shouldn’t happen unless they agree to it. Additionally, if any Rockette doesn't feel comfortable performing for the publicly sexist President Elect, they shouldn't have to contend with fear of termination for declining to participate. Their union representatives from the American Guild of Variety Artists even reportedly ruled that any boycott of the inauguration by the dancers was "invalid," making the performance more of a mandate than a celebratory performance. 

But let’s be honest here: we already know it’s in Trump’s nature to force women into actions against their will. This seems like it will be no different.

President Donald Trump Inauguration


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