Gisele Fetterman, wife of Pennsylvania’s US senator John, has written an op-ed for Elle magazine, of which Cockburn is naturally an avid reader. The essence of her piece is: “I am perfect the way I am — and how dare you criticize me. Also I’m a volunteer firefighter.”
John Fetterman, readers will recall, suffered a stroke last year during the Democratic primary for Senate against Conor Lamb. He won regardless, lining up a head-to-head with Republican candidate Dr. Oz. His one performance on the debate stage raised alarms, even from the mainstream media, over claims he was perfectly fine following his serious health scare and was ready to serve. A little more than a month after being sworn in as senator, Fetterman checked himself into Walter Reed Hospital for clinical depression. He is still there, and so far, has missed 83 percent of Senate roll call votes.
Gisele Fetterman is now putting the country on notice that her husband’s problems are not her problems. “I am not my husband’s career,” she writes. “A healthy, loving relationship is about supporting your partner’s dreams, not controlling them. I would never stop John from pursuing an ideal, just like he could never stop me — even if he wasn’t crazy about the idea at first, like when I told him I was going to be running into fires.”
Yes, Gisele did drive to Niagara Falls right after John checked into Walter Reed, but that was only to escape media trucks in front of their house (and to take glam photos for social media, apparently). Gisele “never wanted to be in the public eye; in fact, that’s the last thing [she’d] want.” Which is why she penned a lengthy op-ed about herself with a bio that’s so long there isn’t enough space to include all of her cute quirks (she’s a “hugger”) and accolades. She’s also so demure that her selfie-filled Instagram contains 6,588 photos, and she habitually poses for photos with John, who told Politico in 2021 that people prefer taking pictures of his wife.
Gisele Fetterman compares “the dehumanizing bullying” she’s received to what “Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama have faced for decades.” “They’re the same attacks leveled at Meghan Markle, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Jill Biden — my apparent competitors for ‘worst wife in America,’” she writes. Esteemed company.
She also refuses to let criticism roll off her back like every other political spouse has done since the dawn of time. “I don’t want a thicker skin,” she declares. “I like my big feelings; the ability to feel so deeply is beautiful. My empathy drives my career and provides me with purpose and hope.”
Expecting women to be able to weather critiques, you see, “reasserts the idea that we need to accept when we’re treated poorly, instead of questioning why society permits abusive behavior.”
So no: society should not be permitted to question a wife who allows her unwell husband to take on a very big, public responsibility, only to watch him suffer and fail. Because in the unquestionable words of the Great Gisele, “We are enough — exactly as we are.”