Melania Trump's lonely one-woman resistance - Macleans.ca
 

Melania Trump’s lonely one-woman resistance

Anne Kingston: The first lady signals with actions what she won’t with words—that she shares the world’s distaste for the man she wed


 

Melania Trump at the National Thanksgiving Turkey Pardoning Ceremony, in the Rose Garden of the White House (Cheriss May/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

As tens of thousands marched through Washington on Saturday in the second Women’s March, only blocks away a woman who would never join their ranks appeared to stage her own small act of resistance. As @FLOTUS, Melania Trump commemorated the first anniversary of her husband’s inauguration with a tweet that failed to reference the Narcissist-in-Chief: “This has been a year filled with many wonderful moments,” it read. “I’ve enjoyed the people I’ve been lucky enough to meet throughout our great country & the world!”  The accompanying photo showed the first lady at the Inauguration accompanied by a young, handsome military escort.

That social-media shade was followed two days later with news that Melania would not, as previously announced, accompany her husband to the World Economic Forum in Davos. “Scheduling and logistical issues” were cited, an excuse no one bought. Conclusions were jumped to, the obvious one that the first lady was furious at her husband, or alternatively “humiliated,” over recent reports that Trump had a sexual fling 10 years ago, shortly after she gave birth to their son—an affair Trump denies, and one the Trump campaign reportedly suppressed with $130,000 in hush money.

What constitutes truth in the Trump White House, of course, is a mystery. But the notion that the first lady is stealthily striking back against the world’s foremost misogynist and bully dovetails nicely with the #MeToo moment, one in which Melania Trump has emerged as an enigma. This is a woman who literally lives at the epicentre of the status quo that galvanized the women-led resistance. Yet she is routinely subjected to sexist treatment from without, as well. She’s either depicted as a captive without agency, giving rise to #FreeMelania; or dismissed as a extension of the Trump brand—a decorous symbol and benefactor of her husband’s wealth. On Thursday came news the Guggenheim Museum rejected the first lady’s request for a Van Gogh for the White House, instead offering her a gold-plated toilet. Certainly she has played the wifely appendage, complicit in parroting Trumpian views: she defended “birtherism” in one interview and was unsympathetic to the plight of immigrants, of which she is one, in another. After her husband’s “grab ’em by the pussy” remark, she dutifully trotted out to defend him; she has called the 17 women who accuse her husband of sexual assault “liars.” 

RELATED: The meaning of Melania, on the U.S. right’s first night

Dynamics shifted post-election, as Melania Trump has emerged the most reluctant first lady since Bess Truman. Perversely, she’s a trailblazer of sorts in refusing to play the fossilized role. She broke with protocol by not moving into the White House for six months, ostensibly because of their 10-year old son’s school schedule, but more likely to avoid The Donald. As her step-daughter Ivanka assumed the hybrid first daughter-first lady role, Melania has emerged a silent cipher, her absurd pledge to take on cyber-bullying long forgotten.

Yet she can’t escape the fact that the American First Couple exist as exemplars of the institution of marriage—for better or for worse. And here, the Trumps’  joyless and clearly troubled union stands in stark contrast to the Obamas’ vibrant, affectionate and equitable partnership. Trump’s disrespect for women is writ large in his treatment of his wife. His behaviour on Inauguration Day foreshadowed the “Donald Trump First” doctrine that defines his presidency. When the couple visited the Obamas in the White House in the early morning, Donald Trump, rudely left his wife behind as he barrelled through the front door. During the ceremony, Melania’s fake smile that turned to a frown when her husband’s back turned was recognizable to anyone familiar with abusive relationships. The couple didn’t even bother to muster a happy expression while dancing stiffly during the Inaguration Ball.

By November, her tour of the White House decorated for the holidays—a silvery, chilly Siberian fever dream—inspired memes and appeared a perfect metaphor for the ice-palace of the Trump marriage. One outlet brought in body language experts to dissect the couple’s Christmas portrait. The verdict: her hand in a fist “shows anxiety and self-control,” while Trump’s palm placement “indicates control over her and an authoritative presence.”

RELATED: The Trump marriage: A Housewife of New York and The Bachelor

For all of the “Free Melania” signs evident at the first Women’s March, however, actual empathy for Melania Trump isn’t abundant. She’s vilified as a gold-digger—someone who knew exactly what she was getting into, even though though no one could have predicted when they wed that Donald Trump would ever occupy the White House. As CNN put it this week: “It’s a little hard to feel bad for a woman apparently willing to trade her good looks and basic respect for her philandering husband’s financial largess.” Yet the same accusation that wouldn’t be levied at other women, or men, who end up in a relationship with a known bully with anger issues. In her case, there are extenuating circumstances that reveal the American Dream her husband is working to dismantle. The daughter of a former Communist Party member, Melania grew up in Slovenia; her beauty offered an escape from drab future prospects; Donald Trump, a man who once told Howard Stern that his “checkout time” for a woman was when she hit age 35, offered another exit strategy, one that allowed her parents to come to the U.S. She is Trump’s third wife; his first, Ivana accused him of raping her in a rage, charges she later rescinded.

For young women, Melania serves as  a cautionary tale, a reminder of the old adage: “When you marry for money, you earn every penny.” And increasingly, in small ways, she is showing the world she shares its distaste for the man she wed. In May, she famously swatted her husband’s hand away from her on a visit to Israel. In another odd, defiant twist, @FLOTUS  follows only five Twitter accounts: two associated with her  husband, that of VP Mike Pence and his wife Karen. The fifth is Barack Obama. That means she would have been privy to the former president’s gushy social media homage to his wife last week —and Michelle Obama’s response with a photo of the flowers he’d sent. It did not go unnoticed that Melania announced she wouldn’t be attending Davos on her 13th wedding anniversary, an occasion unmarked in any public manner.

RELATED: Donald Trump’s ongoing struggle to distinguish female faces

Meanwhile in Switzerland, Melania was discussed with more interest than her husband warranted. The actor Cate Blanchett joked about possibly playing the first lady: “What’s her position as a woman? What does she think? What’s it like being married to—you know.” On Wednesday in the New York Times, Meryl Streep also called for Melania to speak up: “I don’t want to hear about the silence of me,” she said. “I want to hear about the silence of Melania Trump. I want to hear from her. She has so much that’s valuable to say. And so does Ivanka. I want her to speak now.”

For now, the first lady appears to be communicating through actions. On Thursday, her husband off to Davos, she visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, unaccompanied by media. Afterward, she issued a statement that said in part: “My thoughts and prayers are with the people whose lives and families were broken by the horrors of the Holocaust.”  Whether it was a rebuke to an administration that has enabled white supremacists and Neo-Nazis, we don’t know. Melania then flew to Florida, alone and clearly unburdened by schedules or logistics.

MORE ABOUT MELANIA TRUMP:

 


 

Melania Trump’s lonely one-woman resistance

  1. Don’t be ridiculous. You know nothing about Melania’s relationship with her husband. This article should not even have been printed.

  2. In these dark ages this is what passes for journalism.

    Inciting the mob, bathing the spectators with the blood of ruined careers from unsubstantiated allegations.

  3. She is NOT a benefactor of her husband’s wealth, she is, rather, a beneficiary,

  4. Kingston-you are a vile woman spewing your normal drivel. How MacLean’s publishes your crap is beyond me.

    • Well thought out, constructive response!
      Not.

      • You obviously have a bent for drivel. That’s all she writes.

    • Well, you do realize Kingston also doubles as a National Enquirer contributor?

  5. This is a disgusting article. Grow up Anne Kingston. You know no more about Melania’s marriage than you do about Michelle Obama’s. In fact I suggest you research that scam.

    Articles like this is another reason Macleans magazine is done.

    • Research what scam? Don’t just throw innuendo.

  6. Anne Kingston is a bitter sexist and a lousy, hackneyed journalist. A real shame that Maclean’s publishes her nonsense…

    • Such an insightful comment. Do you not have anything useful to say?

      • Yes I do. I fully agree with ARK2.

  7. Gee I think Anne Kingston has really lost the plot. She can ‘tell’ these things by the look on Melania’s face. The look I see on Melania’s face is one of utter and complete contempt for ‘journalists’ such as Anne Kingston.

    • Its the reason that Maclean’s has had to reduce the number of times it publishes as it continues to lose ground. I used to be a subscriber to Maclean’s but about 6 years their turn to all things of the progressive left made me realize that they didn’t really want my money. So I occasionally come to their website to see if anything has changed that might make me want to re-subscribe – the answer is still NO.

    • Well, good for Anne Kingston if Melania Trump knows who she is. Do you actually think before you write this nonsense?

      • Wherever you came from, please go back. If you think you’re adding any value-NOT

  8. I am sorry to read other readers’ negative comments about author Kingston’s interesting and thought-provoking article on Melania. Of course she can’t know anything about the marriage, but so what. Her musings are also mine. I also suspect Melania to be unhappy, and wonder how long the Trumps will stay together. I was interested to read this article, glad I did, and kind of disgusted that other readers are so intolerant. Geez, if you don’t like it, move on!

    • Personal musing are one thing, but when they are published on a supposedly reputable website such as Maclean’s, they are a problem. People voicing their displeasure about this article and its author are hardly being “intolerant”, rather they are being discerning. If I wanted to hear baseless speculation, there is no shortage of that in my personal social life, I can assure you. I come to Maclean’s in the hopes of reading articles that are well researched and containing insightful, nuanced interpretation. Sadly, based on what I have seen of her work, that is something that Ms. Kingston is incapable of providing. This was never more evident than throughout her coverage of the Ghomeshi trials. Her misandry is so over the top that it incapacitates anything resembling journalism or even intelligent observation.

      • You can actually say that about every ‘opinion’ article ever written. Your ‘opinion’ is bs too.

    • The Clintons are still together. Now there’s a heart felt relationship!!

    • Its people like you who agree with people like kingston who project their opinion instead of fact to stir up rumours and hate speech! Heres a thought, crawl back into your liberal hole and ask God for your forgiveness for your slandering and judgement. Then rewrite your article with the words right from the first lady’s mouth!

  9. Being recognized as a discriminating reader used to be a compliment of intelligence, now the truly ignorant mob members decry it as “intolerance”.

    We are living in dark ages.

  10. Ease up on poor Melania. She married purely for money. How was she to know that she’d be marrying a narcissistic, lying, cheating, misogynist. She was blinded by his dashing combover and orange skin. Now, she has to let him touch her. Can you think of anything more repulsive than being touched by a man with little orange hands? I commend her for sticking through with this. She is obviously looking at the millions that she will inherit when doofus dies. She just doesn’t know that she is going to have to battle the little blonde turd and her moronic husband, Jarhead….sorry, Jared.

    • You may not like the man but the policies he was elected to implement are achieving real economic success in the U.S. We could use some of that in Canada rather than the fluff Trudeau works on.

      • The only Trump policy that has been implemented is tax reform. He has been incapable of enacting any of his other policies even though the Republicans control all 3 levels of government. The epitamy of incompetence. The only reason tax reform was implemented was because it was Republican policy (Trump just happened to agree, although his vision was steeper cuts which he didn’t get). If a monkey where in the white house, the Republicans would still have passed tax reform. As far as ecnomic success, the US has been in a bull market since 2009. Trump can claim its all his doing but he has had nothing to do with it. The markets are moving despite Trump not because of Trump.

  11. I originally wrote her off as just another gold-digging trophy wife.

    But I have to say that I’ve developed a grudging admiration for her by way of that hand-slap, the guiding of Trump’s hand to where his there should be a heart, etc.

    This woman, gold-digger or not, has more dignity than he can ever hope to have.

    • And certainly more class than Michelle Obama. I lost all respect for her when, as a very privileged black woman, the day her husband was inaugurated she said it was the first time she was proud to be an American. That earned her the title of “The angry black woman”-an apt descriptor that stuck with her to the end.

      • Class? I have no idea who has that, and would careless. But a daughter of a stay home mom and a community water pump maintenance man and who married a penniless smoking man is not my impression of ‘privilege’. Barrack and Michele worked hard to get what they have. That is probably why @FLOTUS follows Obama. Maybe she identifies with his class, those who, like her, work for everything they have?

        • If you don’t believe Michelle Obama was privileged when she became FLOTUS, you’re smoking something that’s not legal yet! The opposite of privileged is underprivileged. Is that the way you saw Mrs. Obama?
          Class from my view point is how one acts not how hard one has worked and her statement was terrible and showed no class whatsoever.

  12. What a pathetic blob of drivel this is. As if the pitiful hacks that Macleans can still afford know the slightest thing about this woman or her marriage.

    Stick to trying to make Justin Trudeau seem of normal intellect.

    From the editorial grubs to the frauds posing as journalists you continue to hire from the shallow end of the gene pool.

    And it shows in the product.

  13. Ms Kingston, if a license were required to be a journalist, this article would be the only evidence required to have it revoked.
    Maclean’s has shown that this rag is no longer relevant to the Canadian public.

  14. I am sure Anne Kingston has a thick hide and can ignore the Trump-paid trolls here.

    • Not a thick hide-just a thick head!

      • Jerome….There are none so blind as those that refuse to see. Your bigotry and asinine comments betray not only your ignorance, but also your utter stupidity, as is the same of your goose-stepping sycophants on the Alt-right.

        • Spoken like a full member of the Alt-left. You’re probably very busy at all those Anti-fa rallies.

          • Rather Antifa than your KKK rallies, or do you prefer to hang out with your skinhead buddies, practicing the goose step?

          • I think both groups are deplorable.

  15. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article. I’ve been wondering
    ‘Where’s Melania?’ What must be going through her mind with the media so focused on Trump and all the unorthodox doings, the twisted lies, etc. She (I’ll assume) must read the reports on Trump’s ridiculous actions and the various sexual allegations against him.
    I think Anne’s article is a good attempt to share what is going on within Melania. Her body language speaks volumes. Melania must be courageous and honest in NOT playing the devoted loving wife. In that regard, I commend her, even if she married for wealth and fame.

    • Like Kingston, you have no idea why she married Trump nor whether she’s happy or not. You can only really judge by what she says. In a FOX interview she said she was very proud that her husband was doing exactly what he was elected to do. But that she was in constant fear that some nut would assassinate him. When questioned about her role as first lady, she said she was basically a shy person who didn’t enjoy public speaking and that she much more enjoyed her life when there were no fears nor pressure.

  16. I very much doubt that Mr. Trump is a racist or a neo-Nazi; he seems to be but an ordinary blowhard who is exceptionally skilled in accruing wealth but in little else. Mrs. Trump seems to be a well-intentioned individual, but, as with Mr. Pence, much doubt is raised by her association with Mr. Trump.

  17. You realize Kingston also doubles as a contributor to National Enquirer?

  18. Wow! Look at all the Rumpy trolls who come racing to the defence of this woman who continues to enable the “president.” It’s actually kind of hilarious.

    Regardless of what Mrs. Trump III thinks or does not think of her vile husband, this article poses lots of interesting questions backed by legit observations.

    I join the legion of folks who think she is no fool; she chose this disgusting man, she sold her freedom to have access to his money, and she continues to enable and support his repugnant regime.

    • His “repugnant regime” is making America better, stronger, wealthier, safer,…, what don’t you like about that???

  19. Ah…here we go with another journalist wannabe making disparaging remarks about something that she has swirling around in that head of hers. As if shw know for a second what Melanie’s is thinking about her husband, the trip to Davos (oh she knows the REAL) reason!!!…

  20. That Guggenheim toilet is solid gold, not gold-plated as stated in the article. Surely an oblique reference to R. Mutt’s “Fountain”. It would be perfect in this White House.

  21. Marrying for wealth starts to lose its luster when Trump sags in all places and exhibits signs of dementia. Once the White House stint is over, unlikely Melania will be returning to live in Trump Tower with Donald.

    • I guess we’ll have to wait another 7 years to see if you’re right.

  22. This reads more like a “Wish List” from the Fem-a-Nazis.

  23. Not only did Melania expect there to be a Mrs Trump #4, she was counting on it. A fat divorce settlement and half her life ahead of her seemed like a good payoff for a few years of unpleasantness as Trump’s wife. But then he became President, and there’s no way a divorce will be allowed while he’s in the white house. So she’s stuck with him for at the least another 3 years. Hence the small acts of rebellion that Kingston cites.
    Kingston is 100% on target here.

  24. I would put this under the heading of “Fake News”, just the type that Facebook is working so hard to eliminate. News with a definite political agenda, in this case, a leftist agenda that is originated from outside of the United States designed to defame the First Lady. For SHAME Macleans! Is this our Canadian journalism at work? This makes me ashamed to be a Canadian…. I thought we were better. We ARE better. The First Lady of the United States is no wilting rose. She is a Champion in her own right; a woman of substance and accomplishment. I highly doubt she would put up with anything not of her own choosing. Way to try to dumb the world down, eh?

    • Janice, a columnist opines, a reporter reports news. There is a big difference, but that seems to be forgotten in this “dumbed down world” we live in.

      Kingston’s observations are fair game and interesting ones.

  25. I read the article….threw the magazine in the garbage….called and cancelled my subscription. This is what you do with trash.