Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
What was Washington D.C. missing?
A feminist hotel whose lobby has a giant portrait of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg made out of “repurposed tampons”. Of all the ways the deceased justice would want to be remembered, a giant tampon portrait likely ranks below being the new Land O’Lakes or Aunt Jemima mascot.
But Hotel Zena’s incredible commitment to female empowerment also includes a reception desk full of jumbled high heels, giant portraits of female warriors, thousands of feminist protest buttons, and a Wall of Honor that includes Oprah and Hillary Clinton, for a “fierce” atmosphere.
Because who doesn’t come on a business trip to D.C. and then wants to stay overnight in a “fierce” atmosphere while being glared at by a mural of a dour Greek goddess in every room?
The only thing funnier than a “fierce”, but “inviting” feminist hotel is who’s behind it.
Viceroy Hotels & Resorts announced that “Hotel Zena was created primarily by women, for people, both women and men. It is a hotel that offers a haven for all genders, races, and sexualities.”
That might nor be quite the attitude of Viceroy’s Maldives hotel in a country where Islamic sharia law orders women who have been raped to be lashed. The Islamic regime made headlines around the world when it ordered a 15-year-old girl to be lashed for having premarital sex.
But then again, 50% of Viceroy is owned by the Mubadala Investment Company, a sovereign wealth fund in Abu Dhabi. Its CEO is the grandson of the former top Sharia judge there.
Some 50% of Viceroy was owned by Jho Low, the businessman at the center of Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal that dragged in sections of its government and assorted Muslim royals. The Justice Department seized some of Low’s assets and the Abu Dhabi wealth fund was negotiating to buy that 50%, but it’s unclear who now owns the other half of Viceroy.
Viceroy’s true hometown in Abu Dhabi is about as feminist as a tampon portait of RBG.
Women have “male guardians” who run their lives and decide whether they can travel and the Sharia Court of Appeals found that men have the right to beat their wives. Female genital mutilation is commonplace, and rape is only a crime for girls under fourteen years old.
Hugging a man without the benefit of marriage however is a crime.
Foreign tourists who reported being raped were sentenced to prison because they had confessed to extramarital sex. In other words, it’s the usual sort of Sharia setup.
And don’t ask about “sexualities”.
“Unnatural sex with another person” gets you 14 years prison. That’s progressive in a region where Iran hangs gay people. And it’s not the only one dispensing death penalties freely.
All of this is a little awkward for a feminist hotel that boasts of its “provocative art” produced by “feminists of both genders” who are “working globally for the cause of human rights”.
A giant tampon portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a very convenient distraction even if it’s not too clear how all those “repurposed tampons” are advancing human rights around the world.
The business model is a familiar one. Take an underwhelming hotel, and renovate it into a “luxury urban lifestyle hotel” by throwing lots of bad art, and virtue signaling at every inch of it. But the investors are often foreign, looking for someplace with potential to put their money.
Last year’s reviews for The Donovan mentioned smells, leaks, and dirty toilets. The hotel had been renamed several times and showed up in the D.C. Madam’s phone records (probably not one of the accomplishments of female empowerment that the current management would like to celebrate, but you never know) and then a $25 million renovation gave it a feminist makeover.
Now if there are any leaks, visitors will be too distracted by all the feminist virtue signaling.
Washington D.C. is leading the nation in the trend of woke hotels with extremely un-woke owners. The Eaton Workshop had been previously announced as a woke hotel with crystal healing, politically correct lectures, and bibles replaced with UN pamphlets. But its ownership was linked to a Hong Kong family entangled with Chinese state-owned enterprises.
Like the NBA, Disney, and the rest of the huge corporate titans, woke is reserved for America.
Opening a hotel in D.C. that blathers about oppression or feminism is fine. It’s just marketing to the ruling class of a government town that sees oppressors everywhere except in the mirror. But don’t expect any lectures about human rights in a Hong Kong hotel or feminist tampon portraits in the hotels of Maldives or Abu Dhabi. That’s the difference between virtue and virtue signaling.
So many corporations have been happy to shout, “Black Lives Matter”, lecture on “toxic masculinity”, ban gun owners, and pro-life activists because that’s the official dogma. Every dot com from Amazon to Spotify will rename Columbus Day, Indigenous Peoples Day, because that’s what the ruling class here wants, the way the PRC’s ruling class wants Mao portraits.
There’s no contradiction between Sharia law in Abu Dhabi and tampon portraits in D.C., or Communist propaganda in Shanghai and Black Lives Matter t-shirts in San Francisco.
It’s not about rights, principles, or commitments: it’s about power.
That’s why shoving the Uighurs in the NBA’s face is a great own on Twitter, but not much else. The NBA doesn’t care about rights. No more than Disney or any corporation shooting off emails about its commitment to racial equality and the millions it’s sending to Black Lives Matter does.
When most Americans were patriotic, corporations also wanted to be seen as patriotic. But these days most Americans matter about as much as most Chinese or most Venezuelans.
The ruling class has a new set of mores and virtues to distinguish it from the folks, as Obama once put it at a San Francisco fundraiser with George Soros in attendance, bitterly cling to their guns and religion, instead of bitterly clinging to their Black Lives Matter signs and RBG portraits.
The luxury hotels of D.C. cater to the new ruling class and its mores and fetishes.
The Zena Hotel, like the Eaton Workshop or any of the new urban luxury leftist hotels, doesn’t represent rights, but the power of the ruling class to repress the rest of the country. The more obnoxious, crude, hypocritical, and abusive its propaganda, the greater its show of strength.
The propaganda can be about female empowerment, the glories of Maoism or Sharia law, but their real message is in the universal language of the power and preening of the ruling class.
In D.C., Democrat women can be groped by Biden before checking into a feminist hotel where tampon portraits and murals of female goddesses and warriors make them feel empowered. It’s no different than the Muslim women who claim that Sharia law empowers them. Empowerment is different from freedom. Rights provide real freedom while empowerment offers a heady rush.
One is a legal reality and the other is an emotional feeling.
A brief history of the tyranny of the Left is that it substitutes emotions for rights. Its empowerment doesn’t promise freedom or rights, only the thrill of power over others.
“Every architectural line, material and art peinstallation was thoughtfully designed and curated to send a message of female empowerment,” a story about the Zena Hotel claims.
It’s not about the empowerment of women. The Zena Hotel is still a product of two massive companies with male CEOs, not to mention Islamic emirates with male rulers, and even the hotel’s chef is a man. But it is about the empowerment of some women of the ruling class, not to rule over their male bosses, but the rest of the country which lacks their wealth and power.
A ruling class doesn’t seek to empower women or anyone else, but to hold and wield power. Zena’s portraits of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, of Hillary Clinton and Oprah, are not about rights: they’re a celebration of the power of a ruling class while pretending that power is feminism.
And if you get too worried about the wife-beating in Abu Dhabi, here’s a tampon mural of RBG.