Introducing Feminist Wednesday’s new political columnist! Kate Harveston is a freelance political writer and blogger who focuses mainly on topics related to social justice, feminism and equal rights. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, running and exploring the city in search of trendy coffee shops. For more of her writing, you can follow her blog, Only Slightly Biased.
As President Trump comes up on his 100th day in office, the spotlight isn’t just on him. Melania Trump is also being evaluated on what she has done as First Lady in these past 100 days.
Melania Trump has so far been a pretty unique First Lady, staying out of the spotlight and taking her time transitioning into her new role. Though she had a low approval rating as the Trumps took over the White House, she now has a higher approval rating than President Trump does, projecting a much-needed calming presence on the administration.
With President Trump’s misogynistic dialogues frequently flooding the media, it can be easy for us women to look upon everything Trump-related as negative. However, as true feminists, we owe it to our First Lady to take an unbiased look at what she may be able to offer this country over the next four years.
Her Transition Into the Spotlight
Mrs. Trump was already a distinctive First Lady, being only the second First Lady born outside of the United States. When she announced that she would not be moving into The White House with President Trump, she broke a longstanding tradition.
Instead of moving into the White House, she decided to stay in Trump Tower with Barron Trump, her 10-year old son, so he could finish the year at his original school. White House officials have said that once the school year is over, Melania and Barron will move to the White House, but that is not yet official.
Both she and President Trump commented on how the election was difficult for Barron, and they wanted to give him a sense of normalcy by allowing him to stay at his school for the remainder of his 4th grade school year.
Mrs. Trump has been slow to staff the East Wing of the White House, where her office is located. Most former First Ladies have had their full staff chosen before Inauguration Day, but Melania hired her Chief of Staff more than a week after the inauguration and still has not filled most of the other staff positions.
Her slow transition has caused some back-up in the White House, such as a delayed opening of White House tours, which stayed closed for six weeks after the inauguration — an unusually long time.
Mrs. Trump is taking her time settling into the role of First Lady, but many argue this is a result of her putting Barron first and making sure the transition is smooth for both herself and her young son. Many people admire her dedication to her son and say she shows a calm and motherly presence in the administration.
Her Platform as First Lady
It isn’t yet clear what Mrs. Trump will focus on once she is in the White House for good and taking a more active role in the administration. Her public platform is focused on fighting cyberbullying among teens, but she has not yet taken steps to move forward with this issue.
Many people who have been involved in past similar initiatives have pointed out how long it takes to get the ball rolling with such a big undertaking. There is a large amount of research and work that must be done to understand such a complicated issue. Announcing a solid initiative is something that takes time.
The First Lady is passionate about women’s empowerment. At a luncheon that she hosted for International Women’s Day, she asked the women present for suggestions about how she could help empower the ladies of the country. This hinted at a focus on women’s rights once she takes her seat in the White House.
Mrs. Trump also has interest in the arts, architecture, fashion and beauty. She owns her own jewelry and skin care product lines and is a successful entrepreneur. In college, she studied architecture and design.
Her interests vary widely, so what she chooses to focus on as First Lady is highly anticipated.
Her Role in the White House
When Trump first hinted at running for president, Melania told the press that she would like to be a “traditional” First Lady, supporting her husband like Jackie Kennedy did. She does have her own opinions and holds her ground.
She says she does give her husband advice when he asks for it but refuses to disclose what advice she gives him, saying that is between her and her husband. Mrs. Trump told Anderson Cooper she doesn’t agree with everything President Trump says or does. She believes that telling him what she thinks and being her own person is a very important part of their relationship.
So far, Mrs. Trump has let her husband have the spotlight. She did host the traditional Governors Ball in February, made appearances at various events and visited hospitals, schools and military bases in the past 100 days. The First Lady is fluent in five languages, presenting a very positive outlook for any international business she may take part in.
Some people take Mrs. Trump’s absence at the White House as her reluctance to take the role of First Lady, but her supporters remain hopeful that she will become more present and active once Barron is out of school for the year, seeing her focus on her family as a good sign for the future.