In March of 2016, during one of Donald Trump’s frequent Twitter tantrums, the current President of the United States retweeted a picture comparing his wife, Melania Trump, to the wife of fellow Republican rival Ted Cruz.
The post, captioned “a picture is worth a thousand words,” veiled the two women side by side in contrasting poses: Melania, prepped with her supermodel-slit eyes, stared knowingly into the camera, while Heidi Cruz was looking away in an otherwise unflattering angle. In some sense, Trump was right — the picture was worth a thousand words, and I can think of a thousand different things to call him because of it.
“I don’t get angry often, but you mess with my wife, you mess with my kids, that will do it every time,” Cruz responded the following day in Wisconsin. “Donald, you’re a sniveling coward, and leave Heidi the hell alone.”
Eight months and an endless thread of insulting tweets later, Donald Trump became president.
Image Source: Getty Images
This one remains a head-knocker, I know; a temperamental reality star has been elected by Americans to guide them through the upcoming Trump-apocalypse.
For the next four years — or the last four, depending on how many nukes he’ll send by the end of his term — Trump and his empire will be given some of the most important roles in the country: he wants to build a wall between America and Mexico; his oldest daughter, Ivanka, wants to work on enhancing child care policies, while his third wife, Melania, is committed to ending cyber bullying.
Indeed, the woman married to Donald Trump thinks being mean on the Internet is bad.
In a rare speech given five days before the November election, Melania outlined what she would do if she were elected First Lady. First, she vowed to end cyberbullying. Second — well, I assume it’s to change her husband’s Twitter password.
“Our culture has gotten too mean and too rough, especially to children and teenagers,” she said at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania. “We have to find a better way to talk to each other.”
Expectantly, people were confused by her course of action — because when he isn’t saying he’ll grab women by the p****, Trump participates in Twitter battles against people’s appearance, intelligence, and overall persona. It seems as though cyber bullying is a frequent to-do in Trump’s elementary school agenda.
“She didn’t make any mention of the Twitter activities of her husband, Donald Trump,” said Ashley Killough and Sara Murray in a report by CNN, “who has relentlessly attacked his political foes, journalists, critics and other entertainers for years with demeaning comments based on their appearances and intelligence.”
On the surface, past the orange tint and cotton hair, Donald Trump is a mean jack-o-lantern with the temper of a toddler; but online, he is a mean jack-o-lantern with the temper of a toddler and a platform to address the 974 million people who have Twitter accounts. That’s a potential 974 million people reading insulting tweets from the President of the United States.
Image Source: Getty Images
“Technology has changed our universe. But like anything that is powerful, it can have a bad side,” Melania continued during the Pennsylvania campaign rally. “We have seen these already. As adults, many of us are able to handle mean words, even lies, [but] children and teenagers can be fragile.”
Shortly after delivering the speech, her words became the center of criticism. It’s not that what she was saying was wrong; cyberbullying is bad, and it requires a strong, political figure to campaign against it – but does this mean Melania Trump is that figure? Probably not; and not because of who she is married to, but because no one can conquer cyber bullying when the President of the United States, one of the most observed men in North America, engages in Twitter battles on a daily basis. If he permits it, then what stops children, the sensitive youth of our generation, from participating in it as well?
“Trolling on Twitter is already a significant problem, but what happens when the president is the one who is doing the trolling?” Fortune contributor Matthew Ingram writes. “The idea of a president who uses Twitter to single out individuals like Chuck Jones or Lauren Batchelder or a CNN reporter, and subject them to potentially public humiliation and harassment by some of his supporters — including death threats — is disturbing.”
This was the first speech she gave post-RNC controversy, where Melania’s speech triggered similar words from Michelle Obama’s 2008 DNC appearance. Whether the campaign team is to blame, or Melania herself, the incident undervalued the traditional role of the “wife” into limited background appearances and head nods to indicate a yes or no.
In typical American tragedy, she succumbed to the brutal cycle of politics, public appearances and men; for her status as “First Lady” has simply been overlooked due to the man she is married to.
“People talk about me like, ‘Oh, Melania, oh poor Melania,’” she told host Anderson Cooper on CNN’s 360. “People don’t really know me. I’m very strong. I can handle everything. Don’t feel sorry for me. Don’t feel sorry for me.”
When she was asked what she would change about her husband, she didn’t hesitate, telling Cooper: “his tweeting.”
“I don’t agree with everything that he says but you know, that is normal,” she continued. “I’m my own person, I tell him what I think. I’m standing very strong on the ground on my two feet and I’m my own person. And I think that’s very important in the relationship.”
In the past few months, Melania has dealt with sex scandals, sexual abuse claims, racism accusations, and the harrowing presence of Vice President Mike Pence (power to you for that, sister). She is the first foreign First Lady of the United States and the first third wife, and that may not be traditional, but neither was this election, and neither is this America.
“I have my own opinions too, and I tell him that. Sometimes he takes it in and listens, and sometimes he doesn’t,” she told US Weekly following Trump’s inauguration in January. “But it is who he is, I don’t want to change him. He’s an adult, he knows what the consequences could be.”
Our culture is shaped by powerful leaders, regardless of who they are and the policies they establish. Indeed, whether or not you agree with Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’, or the insulting views he shares on women, Donald Trump will remain to be the President of the United States – and those affected by his leadership will continue to react, whether in protests or support.
Melania, an ordinary, opinionated human being despite her political status, should be given the same freedom to react and respond just like we have. She should be able to campaign for policies he doesn’t agree with or volunteer for issues that he doesn’t believe are wrong.
She is her own woman, and she has her own interests that the public should allow her to act on; otherwise we’d be like the mean, rotting jack-o-lantern himself – and I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t enjoy that comparison.