The Role of a First Lady

What should the role of a First Lady be?

Ever since her (lying, misogynist, racist, corrupt) husband took office, Americans have closely observed the actions of his wife Melania.  Why does she always look so miserable? Why does she seem to actively avoid her husband (remember when she slapped his hand away)?  Does she really enjoy the perks of the job?  Does she really want the responsibility?

Right from the beginning the pundits speculated that not only did she not want the job, but she was actively shunning it.  She spent five months living away from the White House with the excuse that she didn't want her son to switch schools.  The rumors swirled that she was not interested in the implied job of White House social secretary and national hostess.  Perhaps that was going to be Ivanka's job.

Eleven months later the speculation is still going strong.  Even though Melania is taking on some of the social roles expected of a First Lady, she doesn't look happy about it. Vanity Fair made the observations early on.   The recent photos of her showing off the White House Christmas decorations show her looking blank and emotionless.  Liberal websites seem are gleeful about it.  The media (outside of Fox News and its ilk) all report that First Lady is a job she doesn't want, and doesn't want to do.

I say good for her!

In the twenty-first century women in the USA are supposed to have the free will and the power to pursue any goal they want.  Women can freely chase their dreams without being held back by a man.  A 21st Century American Woman can pursue her career or motherhood or any path she wants without interference from her husband.  She doesn't have to give anything up for her man.

Unless her husband if President of the United States.

Why is First Lady the one job title a woman must accept on her husband's behalf and forsake all of her other ambitions for?

I understand there are potential conflicts of interest.  If a First Lady wanted to continue to pursue her career or business, there would have to be rules in place.  She might have to put her money in some kind of holding account.  She would definitely be forbidden to use her husband's office to promote her business in any way.  There would need to some kind of wall between the White House and wife's business or her employers business.  None of  these rules should be impossible to enact and enforce.  If Melania Trump is happier doing other things, then there needs to be a system in place that will allow her to do them.

If Clinton won in 2016, would Bill have been expected to play America's Hostess?  Of course he wouldn't.  The man who once held such an important office himself is not going to step down from his role as statesman and become his wife's arm candy.  Angela Merkel's husband has a full time job (chemistry professor).  Theresa May's husband has a full time job (financial manager).

Many first ladies embraced the role and seemed to love it.  Although I wasn't alive to witness it, what I know of history tells me Jackie Kennedy loved the spotlight of being First Lady.  From what I have seen during my lifetime I would say Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama all enjoyed the job, even though they had to give up powerful careers.  That doesn't mean every woman will love the job no matter how much she loves her husband.

Melania Trump is the perfect First Lady to start the trend.  Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush came from a generation where standing by your husband was a priority, so they wouldn't have dreamed of not being a traditional First Lady.  If Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama had turned their backs on the White House, they would have been crucified (possibly literally) by the media and the public.  Maybe Laura Bush could have gotten away with it, but I'm sure she wanted to distance herself from the "uppity"Hillary Clinton and not appear too feminist-y.  Trump has a core group of supporters who thinks he can do no wrong and Melania receives that same blind devotion.  Whatever choice she makes, there is that 30% of the country that will still think she is the best First Lady ever.  I also think Melania will garner support from women who feel she is unhappy or suffering from Stockholm Syndrome or being abused.  The more time away from Don, the better.

But what about her activism?  All First Ladies take up a cause and that's supposed to be their contributions to making the country a better place to live.  Should Melania give up her cyberbullying campaign?

Yes, she should give it up.  She hasn't done anything about it anyway.  I know First Ladies feel obligated to take up a cause, but does anyone really care once their husbands are out of office?  Do they make much of a difference?  Does the public even remember what those causes were?  I remember Nancy Reagan was the most passionate (if somewhat misguided) and visible of all First Ladies with her anti-drug campaign.  I have some memory of Barbara Bush talking about illiteracy, but I don't know exactly what she did to improve literacy rates in the country.  (Maybe she just wanted more people to read so they would buy Millie's Book.)  What did Laura Bush do?  What did Hillary Clinton do? I don't remember. I remember Michelle Obama's campaign to improve children's nutrition, but that may be because her beautiful White House kitchen garden got so much media attention.  Also I remember how she was pilloried for telling parents what to feed their children and forcing them to make kids eat stuff they don't like.  (Remember how there were troops stationed outside the homes of Republican parents during the Obama years? They would rush in and start shooting if they learned the kids weren't eating a diet of skim milk, kale, and quinoa.  Good times!)  Ten years from now nobody will be thinking about Melania's crusade to end cyberbullying even if she succeeds at it.

Please don't take this to mean I am some kind of Melania Trump fan.  I don't like her (or I don't like the persona she presents to the public).  I don't think she's all that smart. (Stop telling me about how many languages she speaks.  So what?  Most decently-educated Europeans speak multiple languages since countries are close together.  Slovenia is a bi-lingual country.  I'm far more impressed by Michelle Obama who is the first First Lady to hold two Ivy League degrees.)  I don't think she's beautiful.  (She was pretty twenty years ago, but her face is ruined by surgery and to me she just looks frightening as well as a walking argument against plastic surgery.)  I think she has proven herself to be as racist and classist as her husband.  She's no prize.  Nonetheless, she deserves the life she wants as much as any woman does.

Be free from the First Lady duties, Melania.  Run your ugly jewelry business.  Go back to modeling.  Pursue your dreams.  Be an example for every First Lady that comes after you.

Just please do it from the White House.  I don't want my tax money to continue to pay for you to pursue your dreams from Trump Tower and Mar-a-Lago.

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