By Zachary Wright
One topic that brought more division between people after the election is not Donald Trump, but his wife, Melania Trump. Every now and then, when the First Lady appears in the news, there are comments that go against the norm of the liberal left – which is equality, inclusion and ending outdated social norms. These comments that I find hypocritical are ones that slut shame Melania coming from self-identified liberals or feminist.
It’s hypocritical because both ideologies sought out to improve equality for everyone, including those who may not agree or unknowingly do so. There are other ways to express disagreement with how she acts as a wife, mother and now First Lady, but resorting to unintelligent insults that attack her sexually defeats the purpose of what many people protest for and seek to end – that purpose being sexual and gender discrimination.
For instance, in protest signs or in online comments, I see Melania’s career as a model brought up. She’s shamed for doing provocative modelling or working the runway that was almost 20 years ago. It’s not relevant to what she is doing now as a First Lady (although she hasn’t done much).
The work she’s done as a model is vastly different compared to what she’s doing now. When this is brought up, it is important to remember the time this happened. People talk as if she went in front of the bathroom mirror and exposed herself to the world online with a phone. We cannot build a nation of formed on the principles of tolerance while continuing to shun others for choices they made that are ultimately harmless like her stint as a model.
Calling Melania, who we no doubt can question why she chose to marry someone as vile as Donald Trump, things like a mail-order bride, a gold digger and other subliminal misogynistic insult that implies she’s a whore is insulting to the movement that people have dedicated so much time to reclaim. Why does this movement seemingly exclude people like Melania but encourage others to do what they want to do? These comments criticizing her work as the First Lady are fair, but there’s many that become misogynistic in nature.
Ultimately, it is hypocritical to blame her for doing the same things that many are doing now and trying to normalize. If we can’t criticize others because it’s disgusting to do so, then we cannot do it to other women just because they’re in the eyes of the public sphere.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending anyone in the Trump family that has essentially turned the presidency into a joke. I don’t understand when Melania is in the news, the criticism seems to focus on her marriage or life and career before becoming the First Lady when it has nothing to do with what the article.
It is not appropriate to comment on what she’s wearing to events like the time she was spending with children in the White House’s garden. It’s unjust to tear down another woman while trying to build up others who face oppression as we are in the middle of the first (and hopefully last) Trump presidency. It is not appropriate to hope that someone fails because she’s married to someone you hate. We don’t know every detail of their marriage, but it is not appropriate to make nasty comments about her or her son that ultimately have nothing to do with politics.
When Obama was president, it was the other side commenting on Michelle Obama’s looks, her actions and their children which all was flat out racism or misogyny, so the standards we uphold now can’t be any different now. You cannot pick and choose on how you practice your standards of treating others. These principles of fairness must be extended to those you may not dislike.
It goes against the beliefs of equality that we try to promote as a community. People say they are in control of their own sexuality, of their own sexual choices, so this practice of inclusion can’t be different for those who chose differently. Excluding and shaming those who believe differently instead of educating them or moving on if they choose not to listen widens the wedge dividing people further and further apart.