One of the most telling details from recent tell-alls is that Melania Trump is both unmoved by her husband’s infidelities, and indifferent to his sexual assaults. “He is who he is,” is said to be her nonchalant mantra. “I know who I married.”
That Melania has always keenly recognized the totality of Donald Trump—not just his serial philandering, but also his sexual predation, pathological lying and virulent racism—is only revelatory to those complicit in the sanitization of this FLOTUS’s image over the last four years. It’s a clean-up job undertaken despite all evidence to the contrary, extending sympathy to that was never afforded to Michelle Obama, who endured unrelenting toxic racism and sexism. Yet Melania, even as she upholds violent white supremacy, demands to be seen as the injured party, dubbing herself “the most bullied person” in the world. That feigned victimology has mostly worked for her. American history is rife with Melanias, women whose whiteness presumed an innocence and virtuosity that was all too often defended with violence.
FLOTUS signed up for her current gig not just because it pays so well, though she has confirmed her marriage’s transactional nature. Responding in 2005 to the question of whether she would have married Trump were he not rich, she shot back, “If I weren’t beautiful, do you think he’d be with me?” Instead, as recent books confirm, Melania was never a passive observer, helpless victim or quiet resistor to her husband’s agenda—innocence always afforded white women—but an enthusiastic and willing accomplice. In other words, this FLOTUS is more than just a trophy wife or a benign accessory; she’s a collaborator, a co-conspirator, an accessory.