In a New Interview, Melania Trump Attempts to “Both Sides” #MeToo

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by Michelle Ruiz– Vogue

On her recent first major solo trip abroad to Africa, noted feminist hero and First Lady Melania Trump took a break from modeling colonialist fashion to speak with ABC News about her role and, interestingly, #MeToo. When asked by Tom Llamas if she believes women and supports the movement, Mrs. Trump gave a cautious answer: “I support the women, and they need to be heard,” said the First Lady. “We need to support them and also men, not just women.”

She went on to stress the need for survivors to provide backup for their claims, and, tearing a page from her husband’s playbook, used the opportunity to get in a little dig at the media. “We need to have really hard evidence that, you know, that if you are accused of something, show the evidence,” she added. “I do stand with women but . . . You cannot just say to somebody, ‘I was sexually assaulted’ . . . because sometimes the media goes too far.”

Melania Trump is right about one thing: Evidence certainly does help support the claims of sexual assault survivors—like the kind of corroboration Dr. Christine Blasey Ford provided when she offered the sworn affidavits of four people whom she told as well as portions of her therapist’s notes to back up her accusation against Brett Kavanaugh. Oddly, though, evidence like that didn’t mean much to the panel of elderly Republican men on the Senate Judiciary Committee. And that is a big part of why #MeToo exists: for survivors to use their voices to take on a patriarchy that, historically, is not interested in hearing them.

Melania Trump’s attempt to “both sides” #MeToo—to assert that both men who are accused and women survivors need equal support—fundamentally ignores history and misses the point of the movement pretty much entirely. Men (and white men, in particular) have always been supported and disproportionately advantaged over women: They have had the right to vote and to own land (and indeed own other people); they have been paid more and elevated to positions of power in politics and in the private sector. And as #MeToo has revealed, they have abused and harassed with impunity (look no further than accused assaulters and harassers Donald Trump and Kavanaugh, and your Harvey Weinsteins and Matt Lauers). #MeToo is about speaking truth to this drastic imbalance of power and the ways it has harmed and stifled women and men who have been assaulted. They are the ones who have rightfully sparked a movement, and they are the ones who need change and support—far more than the men who built the system.

Melania Trump may grasp this and just not care. Or she may be choosing her words carefully, considering her own husband has been accused multiple times of misconduct. In a teaser for its interview with Melania Trump, ABC likened her to the Sphinx of Giza she posed in front of in Egypt. But she is not that mysterious, nor is she some sort of secret booster of the feminist cause in the White House simply because she’s a woman. Her ideals and beliefs are plain to see.

 

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