Thursday, February 2, 2017

Trophies

published 29 January 2017

THE Internet is abuzz with comparisons of how Barack and Michelle Obama behave differently from their successors Donald and Melania Trump.
 
Whereas the Obamas appear to genuinely enjoy each other’s company and treat each other with respect and trust—that, or they are such great actors—the first images of the current US President and First Lady point to anything but a loving, respectful relationship between husband and wife.

Social media point to body language, using clips and GIFs to show the not-so-subtle clues.

For example, when the Trumps came to the White House to meet the Obamas, Mr. Trump got out of the car and proceeded to the shake hands with them, leaving his wife to get out on her side of the car, walk around the back of it and then ascend the steps on her own.

By the time she got to the top of the step, her husband was already on his way into the building. Both Obamas then welcomed her and put their hands on her back as if to prop her up.

Mrs. Trump handed Mrs. Obama a box, a present, and the latter did not seem to know what to do with it. She was frowning, but now it is being interpreted as a frown upon seeing another woman treated the way the former was treated.

When Mrs. Trump walked to the platform of the Capitol just before the swearing in and took her place next to her husband, he merely looked at her. They did not speak to each other. In contrast, Barack Obama took Michelle’s hand and kissed it.

During the inaugural dance, it was as if Melania was pulling her body away from her husband’s. She smiled when he looked her way but descended into a frown when he was not facing her.

All this is speculation, of course, but if we go by the context offered by these images, it would appear that the woman is repulsed and disgusted by her husband.

**

There is a rather patronizing article at The Huffington Post called ‘Melania, Are You Okay?’ It was written in the second person, directly addressing the first lady, asking her questions about how she must be feeling and what thoughts she might be having as the spectacle of her husband’s presidency has begun.

During the campaign, Americans and the rest of the world saw the way Mr. Trump regarded women. He was quite the character, really. He was given to calling women names like “fatty,” or saying they were “nasty.” He reportedly groped or assaulted women—and then bragged about how they just allowed him to do that given his stature. Mrs. 
Trump later on came to her husband’s defense, saying this was no longer the man she knew now, and that what he uttered was simply locker-room talk. You know how boys can be, she seemed to say in an interview.

She was not convincing.

**

A trophy is something you’d like to be seen with to increase people’s regard of you. Believe it or not, it’s 2017 and there remain societies, families and individuals who believe they must get themselves “trophy wives” to boost their stock and to prove they have really come a long way.

A “trophy wife” is beautiful, fairly educated, docile, beautiful, devoted, always smiling, and beautiful. She is always ready to stand by her man however much of a fool he shows himself to be. She makes allowances for his shortcomings, even boorish behavior, because he is so important, and busy, and in need of her understanding. If they have kids, she is most likely an “ideal mom” as well—aware of and involved in her children’s activities in school and outside it. Her family is her life.

But she has time to pamper herself, too. She can shop for whatever she wants. She goes to the gym and sees her friends for brunch or coffee regularly. She goes on date nights with the husband and sometimes hosts gatherings for their friends or his colleagues.

Isn’t her man just enviable?

For instance, some people imagine Mr. Trump must be in heaven—because he is a billionaire and his wife is so beautiful.

**

Truth is, there is neither genuine pride nor happiness to be derived from trophies.

The trophy possessor will be revealed as unhappy and superficial. 

You don’t really need to bother how people regard you—and happiness is not found in what you acquire, anyway. It is what you already have within.

You can work hard and achieve esteem from your colleagues, provide material comforts to your family and get yourself a beautiful, agreeable life partner so you can be the talk and envy of all your friends. But these are just appearances.

As for the “trophy”—well there must be no trophy to begin with. One person does not and should not own or be under another. Partnership is being able to be yourself and freely express your thoughts. It is being respected as an equal, not somebody to be possessed or controlled or dictated upon. It is to be genuinely cared for—not just when you suit their purposes. And, of course, you do the same.

We started with Melania Trump but this is about the millions of women and girls who may be seen for less than who they actually are by a society that still says the “essence of a woman” (since it’s pageant season) is to serve their men, make them happy and affirm their success.

Nobody needs trophies. Refuse to be one, and vehemently.

adellechua@gmail.com

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