Dear Hillary and Melania:
During these days of campaign rhetoric and insults flying as hard and fast as missiles; there is something you both share that you have failed to recognize. You are both women who have been emotionally abused and publicly shamed by your men. Like it or not you are in the sisterhood of the betrayed.
I know both of you didn’t ask to become the poster child for women with men who stray like wild dogs in the night. I know that their poor choices have nothing to do with you and you are not to blame. They both did what they did of their own volition, their lack of morals, and with no concern for you or your children’s welfare. You were a background distraction while they cheated to appease their own egos. Their dishonesty to you and all involved is nothing you need to take on yourself nor defend. That is for them to do. You are the innocent here. You both need to realize that old song, Stand By Your Man, is seriously outdated.
Yet, just because you are not responsible for what your men have done, there is something that I would like you to consider. Like it or not you are role models for millions of women and girls out there. You are both women of privilege. You are women who have worked hard to get where you want to be. And in some small way your actions or inaction influence other women. So my question to you both is…why do you stay with men who value themselves, their penises, and their egos more than they value you?
Yes, the choice to stay is your choice and yours alone to make. I do not presume to understand the complexities of your relationships with your husbands. But I want you to think about this … there are millions of women in the United States who are beaten by their spouse, cheated on, or disrespected in front of their kids. These women are actively contemplating getting out of a situation that is physically dangerous or crippling to their psyche. They know they are in relationships that are emotionally unhealthy for themselves and their families. Yet, they are attempting to be brave, strong, and do what is right by their children even if it is just one step at a time until they have a plan in place and they can safely leave.
We all know that deciding to leave a marriage is never easy. But it is especially difficult for women without power, wealth, and fame. So when we see the two of you, women with all sorts of emotional and financial resources stay with men who have hurt and emotionally abused you on a national stage; it makes it just that much harder for any woman to leave her own tormentor. How can girls have the courage to move on when you don’t? How can women separate when they see you defend a man who has not earned the right to that kind of loyalty from you? If you can’t do it with all your privilege, how can other women who are less fortunate than you?
I am so glad we live in a time when you have earned the legal right to do what you want in regards to your personal relationships. You have the luxury of being able to choose. I recognize that it is not your job to divorce for the sake of all women but dammit perhaps if we saw you refuse to put up with the crap your spouse has heaped on you, it would give others women the courage to do the same. Perhaps if we saw you value yourselves we could value ourselves in the same way. And perhaps if we saw women like you be bold and refuse to put up with men who love themselves and their desires more than they love their wives; we wouldn’t have to have these kinds of discussions thirty years from now. For the future for women everywhere will only change when those at the top lead by example not rhetoric, show courage not complacency, and love/value themselves more than they love power or money.
Yes, it is up to us to stand on our own two feet, but I have to wonder, that if perhaps if you stood just a little higher, if it would make it easier for the rest of us.