Melania Trump Refuses to Act Like a First Lady and Good for Her

Melania Trump will be the first first lady in more than 200 years not to move in to the White House on Inauguration Day. Her decision will cause headaches to her husband's budding administration that could be easily avoided by following tradition, including dealing with public outrage over the high cost of maintaining a full-time residence in Manhattan and increased security risks.By continuing her life as usual, Mrs. Trump will also deny the administration certain advantages, such as the feel-good media coverage that results from having a new family in the White House -- no small thing for a president-elect with historically low approval ratings.But as far as we can tell, Melania Trump doesn't care. And that is actually a step forward for presidential wives.There aren't many things about the Office of the First Lady that haven't irked feminists and gender scholars. After all, the first lady is an unpaid, unofficial government representative whose roles and influence are defined almost entirely in respect to her relationship with her husband.It is precisely this construction of women's identity that Betty Friedan critiqued in "The Feminine Mystique." It is also one reason social scientists have shied away from studying first ladies, directing their attention instead to women in elected office, and consequently, exacerbating the irresponsible double stereotype of first ladies as powerless political bystanders and unworthy topics of serious academic consideration.  Continue reading...

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