Will the next US First Lady be a surrendered wife?

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When Michelle Obama first set foot in the White House, it wasn’t a demure step. It was a surefooted move in an already accomplished career.

The Harvard Law School graduate (she met her husband Barack at the Chicago law firm where they worked), humanitarian, mother of two and style maven seemed to stand side-by-side with her husband, the US President. To hold her own.

He described her as his “rock”.   Throughout their 20-year marriage she would question him on things like why, when they both had careers, it was expected that she would have to pick up sick kids from school. They spoke publicly about their relationship – that it was one of teamwork, and grunt work.

Listen to Mia Freedman and Kate De Brito weighing in on the woman that could fill Michelle Obama’s shoes:

Michelle was the kind of First Lady that could one minute be Tweeting, or dancing with Ellen and the next spearheading major initiatives in the humanitarian space: from fighting obesity to throwing weight behind service members, higher education, and international adolescent girls’ education.

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So it’s with interest that I watch Melania Trump.

The 46-year-old Slovakian former bikini model is, like Michelle, an enigma. Just one of a different kind. She very rarely speaks publicly. Her Instagram has ground to a halt since Donald has been on the campaign trail. And the one time she’s spoken at a campaign event, it was short, scripted, and she was shortly shuffled off.


Her husband, Donald, does most of the talking.

And she plays the part of beautiful wife. She, with her thick European accent, has been kept largely away from the Donald Trump campaign trail, content instead to stand silently behind her man.

“We know our roles,” Melania once told Parenting.com, referring to her domestic life with Trump. “I didn’t want him to change the diapers or put Barron (their son) to bed.”



There’s been precious little press on her. A rare profile in GQ magazine paints her as a glamorous, silent, surrendered woman who makes, for Trump,  ‘easy’ work.   She doesn’t fart or ‘make doodie’ in front of her husband.  She told interviewers she chose not to go into politics and policy because  “Those policies are my husband’s job.” This is a woman who stays in her lane.


The concept of a surrendered woman is interesting. Many women find the idea of letting your husband lead the way very attractive and less stressful. But if we go from Michelle Obama, a role model for girls, a woman who believes firmly in equality and education and women’s rights, to a silent subordinate wife, where does that lead us?

“What commentators are saying is that when you have an uneducated, sort of weak First Lady who is not accomplished in her own right, that can be very dangerous for the country. If you look at the mold of Hilary Clinton, Michelle Obama, ever Barbara and Laura Bush, they are all strong educated women.” Mia says.

“Obviously Trump wants things to be more traditional. And that might mean for women too.” Kate says.

It's not to say a "surrendered wife" is necessarily an idiot, a weakling, or an anti-feminist. Many women happily choose the path of submissive or surrendered wife; a woman who chooses of her own will to dedicate herself to practising self-care, gratitude towards her husband, adopting a "feminine" approach and submitting to the will of her husband.

But when that woman is in the First Lady role, will there be knock on effects? Does it set the tone for a nation?

The twice-divorced Trump has a terrible history with women. He reportedly said of his ex-wife Marla Maples, “Nice tits, no brains." He called Ariana Huffington a "dog",  called Rosie O'Donnell a "fat pig", called Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly a “bimbo” and a “lightweight” for posing in GQ magazine; the same magazine that featured his wife.


And when shock-jock Howard Stern once asked Trump what he would do if Melania were in a terrible car accident, God forbid, and lost the use of her left arm, developed an oozing red splotch near her eye, and mangled her left foot. Would Donald stay with her?

“How do the breasts look?” Trump asked.

Currently, they look beautiful. But isn't that the point.

Listen to the full episode of Mamamia Out Loud, and hear Mons, Mia and Kate question why women are disagreeing, in public, unpack the Logies dress-gate, and talk about the seven deadly sins of social media. 

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