We don’t have to slut-shame Melania Trump to highlight why she’d make a terrible first lady

Melania Trump, former supermodel and wife of the Republican presidential nominee, filed a lawsuit Thursday against The Daily Mail for including “false and tremendously damaging” statements in an August article about her past. The statements in question alleged Trump formerly worked as an escort, her lawyers told NBC. The Daily Mail has since offered a retraction, writing that its articles merely related the allegations against her, but did not confirm whether or not the allegations were true. And frankly, whether or not the allegations are true could hardly matter less. Slut-shaming Trump is a weak, irrelevant attack against her bigoted husband (whose racist bullshit offers no shortage of legitimate criticisms) and doesn’t at all speak to why she’d make a godawful first lady.

Let’s be real here: it’s absolutely crazy that anyone would discuss consensual sex work by adult women as if it’s somehow anywhere near as terrible as calling Mexican immigrants “rapists,” or, in the female Trump’s case, seemingly stealing a speech, blatantly lying about her education, or refusing to disavow her racist husband.

The Daily Mail’s was a uniquely gendered attack rooted in the idea that a woman’s sexuality and sexual history will destroy her career and image and gawking at how terrible a woman is for not complying with puritanical societal standards is more important than discussing real issues, like the gender wage gap, reproductive rights, or immigration reform.

The Daily Mail’s hit-piece was fucked up and undeniably sexist, but frankly, it’s also irritating to see the great lengths Trump would go just to disassociate herself with female escorts, who are nowhere near the societal evil her husband is, or the societal evil she’s propagating herself in standing by and condoning her husband’s language. Frankly, I have far more respect for any sex worker who would call out The Donald (or any sex worker in general, really, because someone please tell me what they’ve done to be so stigmatized and looked down upon?) than a first lady perfectly content with her husband’s racist stances and their effects on marginalized groups, so long as she can continue to enjoy her privileged life at his side.

And even if Trump was indeed an escort, seriously, how would this be the nail in the coffin for why she’s a terrible person? She is clearly neither honest nor trustworthy, content to steal Michelle Obama’s brilliance and try to pass it off as her own at the Republican National Convention, and fine with lying about her level of college education, as if not graduating is somehow more shameful than standing by a bigot.

Beyond that, she is yet to show any real empathy for or willingness to help less privileged Americans, and if she’s not willing to speak up for all the marginalized groups her husband is consistently attacking, do you really think as first lady she’s going to do anything to improve their lives?

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It’s understandable that she can’t comprehend how terrible her husband and all the things he’s saying and doing are: American politics doesn’t appear to be her thing (which is totally fine — I mean, is American politics really anyone’s thing this year?) and privilege, by nature, perpetuates ignorance. That’s all understandable, and we hardly need our next first lady to 100 percent mimic Obama as another Harvard Law School graduate, but do we want a first lady who is either so ignorant or so apathetic as to shrug off her husband’s nastiness?

At the end of the day, The Daily Mail should, indeed, be ashamed of its article for all the negative connotations it attached to sex work and for its bald-faced slut-shaming of Trump, because no matter how terrible any woman is, we should never stoop to sexual, gender-based attacks. Simultaneously, sex work allegations are not even close to being one of the many valid reasons she isn’t qualified to be first lady, and it boggles my mind that she is somehow more ashamed of the sultry elements of her past than she is of who she is presently married to.