The first lady of the United States broke tradition by arriving separately from her husband to the State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
Wearing a white Christian Dior pantsuit, Melania Trump appeared in public for the first time since allegations of a 2006 affair between Donald Trump and adult film star Stormy Daniels surfaced earlier this year.
Media outlets (including this one) were quick to suggest Melania Trump’s all-white ensemble was a nod to the suffrage movement and a subtle protest against her husband. Yes, white pantsuits are seen as a modern-day equivalent to the outfits worn by suffragists and have been worn several times by Donald Trump’s political rival Hillary Clinton. They were even worn by female Democratic senators to protest Trump during his first address to Congress, using the hashtag #WomenWearWhite. But if you think wearing a white pantsuit makes Melania Trump a feminist hero, think again.
The lines were drawn well before cameras began rolling for President Trump’s address. Many of the same female Democratic senators and members of the Democratic Women’s Working Group who wore white in protest of Donald Trump in 2017 decided to dress in black as a sign of solidarity with the women of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. In a divisive move, female members of the GOP announced earlier this week their intentions to wear red, white, and blue to the State of the Union address as a sign of support for the military.
The first lady did not try to find a middle ground and made no reference to the movements. Instead Melania Trump chose to wear white, the opposite color of the #MeToo and the Time’s Up movements. She may have arrived at the State of the Union address alone, but her choice of outfit clearly signaled her allegiance to the GOP — and her husband.
It seems as though many people are searching for any sign that the first lady will join the resistance and publicly denounce her husband’s actions. With each new allegation against Donald Trump, we wait for Melania Trump to speak out against him.
However, the first lady did not comment when 19 women came forward with accusations of sexual assault against her husband, and comment has yet to come since it was reported he allegedly had an affair with another woman months after Melania Trump have given birth to their only child together. The line in the sand is seemingly never drawn for Melania and Donald Trump, at least not in public.
In public, Melania Trump supports her husband. In 2016, she defended Donald Trump’s infamous “grab ’em by the pussy” comments in an interview with Anderson Cooper as “boy talk” and suggested his comments were “egged on” by reporter Billy Bush. Melania Trump also defended Donald Trump’s tweets criticizing reporter Mika Brzezinski. In fact, Melania Trump has a long history of supporting her husband’s hateful behavior. In 2011, well before Donald Trump announced any plans to run for office, she appeared on The Joy Behar Show and echoed sentiments of her husband’s racist birther allegations, demanding to see Barack Obama’s birth certificate.
Melania Trump has had ample opportunity to voice her support for marginalized groups and condemn her husband’s overt racism and misogyny. If she wanted to separate herself from the current rhetoric of the Trump administration, the entire world would be watching.
It’s time to stop treating Melania Trump as a hostage in the gilded cage of the White House. Her actions, or lack thereof, make her an accomplice of the Trump administration, and it’s time we stop watching her every move, hoping she drops clues for us to interpret.
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