Stop Shaming Melania Trump

Melania Trump

The continued harsh criticism of Melania Trump is disturbing. During the campaign, social media and newspapers inundated the world with her nude photos and “exclusive” movie stills. As the Obamas prepared to leave office, the photos from Melania’s past were shared more frequently, often comparing her semi-nude photos side-by-side with photos of Michelle. Since becoming First Lady, the insults appear to have taken on more energy. (And it’s only been a few days.)

This constant resurfacing of her modeling photos is disturbing in many ways.

For one, she did not ask for this. She did not seek to be in politics, to be a spokeswoman.  I have my doubts that her husband asked her about his running for office and stronger doubts that even if he did ask for her opinion, he would take it into consideration.

During the campaign, the comments and photos were to the point of slut shaming. There were some who called this out, as Laura Bates wrote in the Guardian back in August.

“Neither racism, slut-shaming nor moral policing have any place in the political arena. Nor should any such criticism focus on children who have made no attempt to step into the political spotlight,” Bates said. “To tear down wives and daughters as if they are empty vessels of family honor is dangerous and demeaning. But it also distracts us from the real issues. Most political men offer ample opportunities for criticism, all by themselves.”

Melania made the photos when she was 25 – it is her past. The comments reduce her to an object.  And objectifying women is the very thing many of us criticize Donald Trump for.

Moreover, many women choose to be models, star in movies or to work in the sex industry. That is their business and choice.  The millions who participated in the Women’s March and rallies demanded respect and autonomy for all women. It is their human right to choose lifestyles, health choices and much more.  To turn around and harshly judge Melania is hypocritical.

Now some say, “Well the GOP shamed and insulted Michelle and Hillary.” Does that rationalize doing the same? Is attacking Melania truly a way to “get back” at the GOP?  Many of those who insulted and judged Michelle and others are still in office!  Perhaps call them out on their actions and words – they are elected officials.

Melania TrumpYes, Melania plagiarized Michelle Obama’s speech. That was the fault of Donald Trump and his advisers. They were responsible for the speech, and for coaching her. At the very time she was to have her moment she instead was humiliated.

And then there are those who justify their comments by saying “I will never respect her as First Lady.” Valid choice. It is one thing not to respect someone; it is another thing to disrespect someone with accusations, insults, and insinuation.

Those in the entertainment industry have insulted her accent and her less than perfect English. They go beyond impersonation while simultaneously using their platform to speak for immigrant rights and the treatment of the undocumented.  They criticize the President’s policies by degrading the President’s wife’s immigrant roots.

Finally, one need only observe the way Trump treats Melania in public. Two photos from the inauguration (to the right) tell a whole story.

Isn’t it possible she receives the same criticism he has doled out to others? And if that is true, could she be victimized as well?

I personally cannot be an advocate and march for equality for all women while tearing down and judging their life choices. I can and will call out public figures out on their words and policies. Melania does not deserve this harsh response.

Rev. Marie Siroky is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ serving as a Chaplain in Northwest Indiana. A former nun who taught in the inner-city of Philadelphia, Marie self defines as having a “Catholic Spine” and is fiercely protective of religious freedoms for all as well as addressing injustice in every form (including Cubs fans). She is past president of the Interfaith Coalition on Nondiscrimination (ICON) advocating for LGBT justice in Indiana for over 15 years. She currently serves on the board of UCAN (the United Church of Christ’s HIV/AIDS network). She and her wife have been together over 24 years, married in Iowa in 2009, and are current members of Trinity United Church of Christ in her hometown of Gary, Indiana. Follow Rev. Marie Siroky on Twitter: @GaryMillrat. You can also find her writing at http://garymillrat.com.

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