Stop Projecting Your Feelings onto Melania
The first lady is not the savior the resistance is looking for.
Welcome back to Evesplaining, politics writer Eve Peyser's column about why everyone else is wrong and she's right.
According to a lot of people on the internet, Melania Trump hates her husband. On a recent trip to Israel, the first lady appeared to swat Donald Trump's hand away as he tried to touch her. She also chose to stay in New York with the couple's son Barron to finish out the school year in lieu of moving into the White House. And earlier this month, her Twitter account briefly liked a tweet that asserted, "Seems the only #Wall @realDonaldTrump's built is the one between him and @FLOTUS."
A tweet with three somber photos of Melania (and almost 200,000 retweets) contends: "this makes me really sad, i genuinely feel bad for her. he doesn't appreciate her and she doesn't seem happy at all."
Imagining the inner lives of famous people is a fun game. For instance, I've spent a fair amount of time imagining the wild interpersonal drama between my favorite appraisers on Antiques Roadshow. But in the case of Melania, people have begun pretending their fantasies about the first lady's secret inner life are reality, and using their speculation as another excuse to dunk on Trump. Take it from me, the president is a horrible person and I love to see him get owned at any opportunity, but in our critiques of Trump, we need to separate fact from fiction.
Just as a butterfly flapping its wings causes a hurricane somewhere, every perceived slight from Melania creates a storm of thinkpieces. Monday's hand swat, for example, was the basis of the Daily Beast's "Melania's Swat Proves She Hates Donald Just as Much as America Does," which asserts, "She doesn't care if he's embarrassed, and it completely rules." This joins Jezebel's "Melania Hates Donald: A Theory," the Root's "Melania Trump Hates Her Husband and She's Becoming Our Spirit Animal" and Death and Taxes's "How much do Donald and Melania Trump hate each other?" in the rich canon of Melania Trump fan fiction.
A recent Vanity Fair piece about the state of her marriage paints an unsurprisingly bleak picture of the life of a Trump wife, and suggests that she is reluctant to take on the role of first lady. And she certainly hasn't demonstrated that she'll be an active presidential spouse on the order of, say, Hillary Clinton. But aside from her perceived coldness, we have no idea what's going on in Melania's mind. The narratives about her secret desire to undermine America's stupidest president—spawned by a hand swat or a stray liked tweet—mostly exist in the fever dreams of liberals suffering from Trump derangement syndrome.
"I want Melania to finally just come out [and] divorce him. She would be an American hero," Chelsea Handler said on The View. "We would embrace her if she just said, 'Listen, this guy's disgusting and I know all of his dirty secrets and I'm willing to tell everybody.'"
That is... not going to happen. Since Trump's rise, there's been a larger tendency to position the women he surrounds himself with as unwilling accomplices, or potential forces of good in an administration of evil—see the op-ed in Boston Globe titled, "A plea to Ivanka Trump: You can make the difference on equal pay." (She hasn't.)
The resistance's penchant for trying to incorporate Melania or Ivanka into their larger narrative has no grounding in fact, but may have some basis in the nonsense idea that women contain some inherent good that eludes men, or that they can control their partner's dark impulses.
Melania could have left her husband many, many times. Instead, she stuck by him, and even defended him when he was promoting the racist conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. And according to a recent Politico report, Melania "often tracks the news of the day and will alert her husband to stories she thinks make him look bad."
Melania will not save you, nor will she be the champion who brings Trump crashing down. So stop caring about Melania, because she definitely doesn't care about you.
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