politics

Mia Freedman: "Why men like Donald Trump want to raise Ivankas, but only ever marry Melanias."

Donald Trump has a lot of wives. There’s first wife, Ivana. Second wife, Marla. Third wife (so far), Melania. And his ‘campaign wife’, Ivanka, as she’s been described by pundits who cite her as his greatest personal asset in the lead-up to the November election.

Of all the women in Trump’s life, the two who appear closest to him are Ivanka and Melania—in that order. But from the outside, it seems like the only thing these two women have in common is that they’re rich, beautiful and loved by Donald Trump.

Melania Trump is a retro model of wife. She was, of course, an actual model and her beauty has been her currency and her job. She is a stay-at-home mother to the couple’s young son Baron and has never had a career other than modeling.

Ivanka Trump, in sharp contrast, is a working mother of three—something she has deliberately made the cornerstone of her personal brand. She is an executive at her father’s company, working closely with him as well as helming her own fashion line (made mostly in China and Bangladesh, ooops).

Ivanka Trump is proud of her father. (Post continues after video.)

Video via CNN

Different women. Different choices. Different identities.

Big contrast.

Donald Trump speaks a lot about his wife’s hotness and his daughter’s success (also sometimes his daughter’s hotness, which is beyond creepy). He seems to have very different ideas about what makes him proud of his wife and what makes him proud of his daughter.

And this is something that resonates deeply among his conservative male following.

In an acclaimed piece published in The New York Times, journalist Jill Filipovic has written a fascinating explanation about why so many men, like Donald, want to marry Melanias and raise Ivankas.

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“YOU can tell a lot about a person by whom they choose to marry. As the nominees selected at this week’s Republican National Convention and next week’s Democratic one take the stage along with their family members, they will display not only stark policy differences, but also two competing views of marriage, kin and the role of women in society. What we saw from Republicans: Men who want their wives at home while they celebrate the professional successes of their daughters.”

She goes on to explain how at the Republican National Convention and in every aspect of their public life, America has “witnessed how the Trump family embodies a very old sexist hypocrisy: Men who want one thing for their wives and another for their children.”

So while Trump can revel in the success of his daughter as a businesswoman, his expectations for his wives are distinctly more old fashioned. In fact, one of the reasons Trump gave for the collapse of his marriage to Ivanka’s mother Ivana is that she became too involved in her career.

In an interview with American Broadcasting Company News in 1994, Trump made some revealing statements about his marriage to Ivana:

“I think that putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing. If you’re in business for yourself, I really think it’s a bad idea. I think that was the single greatest cause of what happened to my marriage with Ivana,” Trump said.

Lightening the mood in advance of our speeches tonight. #RNC #RNCinCLE #2016Cle

A photo posted by Ivanka Trump (@ivankatrump) on Jul 21, 2016 at 3:58pm PDT

He said that he disliked hearing her “shouting on the phone” during contentious business deals. “A softness disappeared. There was a great softness to Ivana, and she still has that softness, but during this period of time she became an executive not a wife.”

Silly Ivana!

Trump also discussed his then-marriage to Marla Maples and her foray into acting.

He said that while he enjoyed “creating stars” such as Maples—which he said was “almost like creating a building”—their professional obligations were frustrating.

“I have days where I think it’s great. And I have days where, if I come home—and I don’t want to sound too much like a chauvinist—but when I come home and dinner’s not ready, I go through the roof,” he said.

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Enter Melania.  Melania does not work outside the home. She has a jewelry line that used to be sold on QVC, of which she is ostensibly the face.

But like so many of her husband’s business ventures, it hasn’t worked out so well.

She told Harper’s Bazaar that she has “put everything on hold” with her career so she can “be there” for her husband. But that may not be the only reason. According to Forbes magazine:

Mrs. Trump’s jewelry collection, first launched in 2010 on QVC and quickly sold out in 45 minutes. Today, the line isn’t doing exceptionally well but it is still making money, despite QVC telling Forbes it “does not have an active relationship with the brand” any longer. According to Donald Trump’s public financial disclosures, Melania Marks Accessories’ revenues increased from the $5,000-$15,000 range to the $15,000-$50,000 range from 2014 to 2016. But this is quickly offset by Mrs. Trump’s troubled skin care line, founded in 2013. In 2014, Melania Marks Skincare made somewhere between $100,000-$1,000,000. One year later, revenue dropped to less than $201. A representative for Mrs. Trump declined to comment on her business ventures.

Staying married to someone as demanding as Donald Trump does indeed appear to be a full-time job in itself.

You wouldn’t want him to go through the roof if dinner wasn’t ready, now would you?

Melania speaks four languages, French, Italian, English, and her native Slovenian.

She’s raised her son Baron to speak Slovenian as well as English, and the two spend so much time together, the 10-year-old reportedly has a Slovenian accent.

When asked by Harper’s Bazaar if her husband had tried to learn her native language, Melania said, “He speaks English. That’s it. And that’s okay, I’m not that kind of wife who would say, ‘Learn this’ or ‘Learn that.’ I’m not a nagging wife.”

This is not surprising news. Donald Trump’s reaction to women in general is wildly sneering, let alone one who might nag him. Can you even imagine.

So, Melania. Who knows what their marriage is really like, only them. But for the purpose of their public life together—and this matters—she is merely decorative. Ornamental. A trophy that he believes speaks to the world of his virility and power. We know this because he says it.

At campaign rallies, he often introduces her by shouting, “Where’s my supermodel?”

And in an interview with Howard Stern when he was asked if he’d stay married to Melania if she were horribly disfigured in a car accident, he had to stop and think before asking, “How are the breasts?”

When assured they were hypothetically okay in this hypothetical car accident, Trump conceded that he might manage to remain married.

An epic evening. #RNC #RNCinCLE #2016Cle

A photo posted by Ivanka Trump (@ivankatrump) on Jul 21, 2016 at 8:10pm PDT

He’s also keen to talk about how good sex was with Melania—and like all men who brag about good sex with women, it’s not a compliment at all.

It’s a woefully transparent boast about himself.

“The sex is extraordinary,” Trump said in 2005 of his new wife.

“You know, she’s a great beauty, but she’s a great beauty [on the] inside,” Trump said, “which is almost as important.”

“Not really,” Stern added.

“No, probably not,” Trump clarified.

So there you have a pretty good indication of how Trump views his wife, and the role of a wife in general.

This is hugely appealing to many of his supporters—middle aged white men from the right. The thought of a hot model, decades younger than them who takes care of the children and has sex on demand is their Utopia.

No demands on her time from a pesky, you know, job. Totally devoted to home and husband. Bliss.

No wonder they think Donald Trump is the man.

  Happy birthday to my amazing father and first mentor! I still learn from you daily and love you dearly. @realdonaldtrump   A photo posted by Ivanka Trump (@ivankatrump) on Jun 14, 2016 at 1:17pm PDT

Republicans have always resisted the evolution of women’s roles away from traditional housewives and into the workforce. According to Filipovic:

“The Republican Party has particularly struggled to accept this new model, and still pushes back on women’s progress by opposing policies that would help women work and plan their families: things like federally funded child care, paid parental leave and access to birth control.”

So then how come Donald allowed his daughter Ivanka to sell these very ideas in her speech introducing him at the Republican National Convention?

Because conservative men have very different standards for their wives and their daughters. Different expectations. Different values.

According to Filipovic:

“Changing gender roles look less threatening when it’s their children who benefit. According to a survey published by Maria Shriver’s Shriver Report, American men listed ‘intelligence’ as the top quality they valued in both a wife and a daughter, but then the responses split: More men said they wanted their wives to be attractive and sweet than said the same about their female children. For daughters, men ranked being independent, strong and principled as more important qualities than those same characteristics in wives. Two-thirds of men want an independent daughter, but only one in three wants an independent wife. Fourteen percent of men said they wanted a wife who was a homemaker; just five percent said the same about their daughters.”

This post originally appeared on Flo & Frank. It’s a happy place for smart women, come say hello.

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