President Trump touched many things in the first few days of his first overseas trip as commander-in-chief. A glowing orb, for example. The wailing wall. The pen with which he wrote a tone-deaf note commemorating those who fought against Nazi atrocities. Rarely, however, did Trump appear to touch the hand of his wife, Melania. Much to the Internet’s glee, Melania didn’t seem interested in holding her husband’s hand, either. This narrative that was wound out, spun, and widely interpreted as a her personal brand of defiance. Well, that, and her wardrobe—she did not wear a head scarf while visiting Saudi Arabia.
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“In that instant, the first lady became every American woman who donned a pink-kitten hat to protest the then-new president—and cemented her status as star of the show: ‘Melania of Arabia, High Priestess of the Testosterone-Intoxicated, Tiny-Hands Revue,'” writes Kathleen Parker in a new op-ed for The Washington Post. Which is ridiculous, not because Melania will be remembered by history for her wardrobe and body language—that’s how it usually goes for women married to important men—but because it implies that she is part of #TheResistance with a few tricks up her sleeve.
Melania is looking out for her family, and she’s not on “our side.” Neither is Ivanka, who was born into that tightly-knit Trump family, and who won’t deviate from its message, except possibly in that she acknowledges women who have children also sometimes work. “Complicit” is the buzzword of her role in the administration, and her book, Women Who Work was torn apart upon its release.
But, Parker argues, “Despite their apparent ornamentalism, there’s little doubt both women made a lasting impression on Saudi women, who would have recognized and identified with their feminine power.” That statement alone reduces a woman’s “power” to her ability to dress well and avoid hand-holding, and to do so in foreign country while unequivocally supporting the dangerously vague ramblings of a man who literally could not respect women less. Did we fix gender inequality in Saudi Arabia yet?
The bar for Melania and Ivanka has been lowered basically to the floor. Now, it isn’t just the mass public being asked to judge their performances based on grooming and gestures, it’s feminists. And, for good measure, it is Saudi women, who are systematically barred from public service and political activity.
The Washington Post‘s tweet of the article (below) is already under consideration for The Ratio:
So, there’s some justice.