Please Don’t Be Awful About Melania Trump

Today in the campus center of my school I was eavesdropping on three girls sitting together talking about Donald Trump. The conversation was pretty normal for Tufts—they were discussing how disappointed they were, mostly—and then they moved on to praising the Obamas. Then the discussion took a turn that began to bother me.

“Ugh, and Melania Trump. You have Michelle, Malia, and Sasha Obama, all these classy women, and now this is who’s going to be the First Lady? She’s so trashy, and she’s not even American! She doesn't even speak English!”

All three of them agreed that Melania was going to be a terrible First Lady because of her past as both an immigrant and a lingerie model. This wasn’t the first time these arguments have come up. They arose in the primary, when an attack ad against Trump featured a photo of Melania lying on a bed just wearing jewelry. I’ve heard some of my friends bring them up, even friends who consider themselves proud feminists, and who typically support immigrants.

Honestly, I don’t know much about Melania, and I don’t think anyone really does. She’s been relatively quiet and removed from the campaign. To be fair, she’s married to a sexist, racist, generally awful human being, but that’s her husband, not her. Women shouldn’t be seen as merely extensions of their husbands; they’re separate people who don’t necessarily share the same beliefs as the men they marry. Furthermore, if you start slut-shaming Melania for her past as a model, you’re slut-shaming anyone who’s ever been a model, saying that they would be unsuitable as First Ladies, too. You’re saying that women who cover themselves up inherently have more dignity and are more deserving of respect than women who are comfortable wearing less. If you say Melania Trump is unsuited to be the first lady because she’s an immigrant, you’re saying that immigrants, even American citizens, aren’t capable of being part of American government or society. 

If you want to talk about how awful Donald Trump is, then talk about him. Talk about what he’s done, and insult him. If you want to criticize Melania, criticize her for supporting his behavior, for standing beside him as he degraded millions of Americans. Criticize the irony of her campaign against online bullying, when her husband is the biggest bully of them all. But don’t resort to calling her slutty or trampy, and don’t say she’s unfit to be First Lady because she’s an immigrant. Those arguments are clearly irrelevant, and are rooted in your own prejudices.