Melania Trump stands by her man, a thankless task | Barbara Ellen

The wife of the Republican candidate has been ill served in the brutal presidential campaign

Melania Trump appears to have spent the entire US election as a sort of anti-Michelle Obama whatever she does, however hard she tries. Not that shes been that visible her husband has mainly put his daughter, Ivanka, in the first lady spot on his campaigning chain-gang. When Melania has been thrust into the spotlight, its been to do a manifestly sub-par nerve-racked turn, before scurrying back into the shadows, amid accusations (at the mildest) of speech-plagiarism.

Now Melania has made another so-so speech (keeping to the relatively safe topic of childhood bullying). There have also been further allegations about Melania working as a model before officially obtaining her US work visa. Does it matter? Of course it does (it makes a mockery of her husbands relentless anti-immigrant rhetoric). Another question could be: does Melania matter? After all this time, does she even exist as a legitimate separate entity outside of her husbands swirling toxic orbit?

Throughout the Trump campaign, Melania has been simultaneously defined and eclipsed by her husband, which, considering his well-documented views on women, probably suits him just fine. With a man like Trump (an ego driven by a sonic blast of narcissistic personality disorder), it makes a weird kind of sense that his daughter (his issue, his blood) is given pole female position, validating his genetic grandiloquence (subtext: everything that is of Trump is magnificent!), while his third wife (with her chequered past) is given tasks and duties almost as an afterthought.

Melania has been bounced down the Republican campaigning ranks from player to mere decorative human accessory, given as much significance and influence as Trumps choice of tie at a rally. At the same time, in every negative, dehumanising way possible, Melania has been completely defined by her husband. Of course, something similar also happened to Hillary Clinton an actual candidate whos spent her entire campaign being pelted by rocks for the sins of Bill.

The difference is that Hillary has at least (small mercies) also been attacked for who she is and what shes done. Then theres Michelle Obama, whose charisma seems at once amplified by her husband, while also robustly being independent of him. By contrast, from start to finish, the pressure has been on Melania to atone publicly for all her husband is and everything he represents, her every word and deed viewed and judged entirely via the omnipresent prism of the Donald.

So what? you might ask. As the saying goes, if you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas. But although associations are important, ultimately, only Donald Trump should be attacked for being Donald Trump.

Certainly, it seems too easy and dangerous to assess women solely via the medium of their men. You can already see it happening with Prince Harry and his new partner, Meghan Markel, a successful, attractive biracial actress being systematically reduced to how she, her heritage and achievements fit in with The Almighty Him. As a feminist, it makes me feel uneasy watching Markel being defined via her suitability for Harry, as if this were her only pertinent characteristic, all other nuance and agency of a living, breathing, thirtysomething individual cheapened or obliterated.

If this makes a soul uneasy, then perhaps the same courtesy should be extended to Melania Trump. Melania probably wouldnt make a great first lady. (Not so much the anti-Michelle, as simply inadequate). However, the fact remains that during a wild, dirty election, Hillary Clinton emerged hurt by Bill, but not felled by him, Michelle gloriously stepped out of Baracks shadow and even Ivanka is relatively unscathed. Only Melania wafts around like an election phantom whose only function is to be viewed and judged entirely via the medium of her husband. While its not surprising that this happened, its telling that nobody seems to mind a bit.

Salute Sting for relaunching the Bataclan

Stings appearance will be a boost for the Bataclan.
Photograph: Tatan Syuflana/AP

Sting will be the first musician to perform at the Bataclan theatre in Paris since the terrorist attacks last November that killed 130 people, 89 of them at the venue.

A separate event has been planned, according to ed reports, to mark the anniversary of the attacks, attended by survivors and the band that performed on the night of the attack, the American group Eagles of Death Metal, whose roadie Nick Alexander died. Sting will perform the day before the anniversary, to remember those who died and to celebrate the cultural history of the Bataclan.

Bravo, Mr Sumner. This is a boost for the Bataclan, which is said to be struggling to get acts to perform there, though artists such as Youssou NDour, Marianne Faithfull and Pete Doherty have also confirmed dates.

It was always going to be a big deal to be the first act to play at the venue, with all that the gig represents, and a globally renowned name such as Sting was crucial.

It says loud and clear that violence and hate, although devastating, dont have the power to end or stunt a culture. Good for Sting, for taking this stance.

Turin turns screw on meat-eaters

The shape of things to come? It is planned to make Turin Italys first vegetarian city. Photograph: robertharding/REX/Shutterstock

Chiara Appendino, the new mayor of Turin, is proposing to make it Italys first vegetarian city. Which is not to ban meat (although veganism in Italy is on the rise), but to promote awareness about healthier, more ecologically sustainablelifestyles, with such initiatives as educational projects, a vegetarian map of the city and a meat-free day of the week.

As a vegetarian, I love this, not only for admirable animal welfare and ecological reasons, but also for vindictive and immature ones. As in, its a wonderful notion that, in just one city in the world, the standard vegetarian/meat-eaters experiences could be reversed.

As it happens, Italian cuisine is vegetarian-friendly anyway, but vegetarians will know what Im talking about when I recall how many times Ive sat in foreign restaurants practically begging to be fed well, anything really. In some countries, a plate of lukewarm steamed vegetables and a disgruntled munch through the bread basket is all you can expect. Quite how vegans cope with eating out, here and abroad, Ive no idea, but perhaps restaurant staff should check for crazed gnaw-marks on the tables, chairs and laminated menus after they leave.

Certainly, it would make a nice change for the meat-eaters to be the ones sitting in restaurants, squinting at menus, nervously inquiring about whether theres a carnivore choice. Their turn, too, to irritate waiting staff by asking if they could adapt this or that dish to include meat or fish. Or to risk the terrible wrath of chefs by audaciously suggesting that they might rustle up a palatable ham omelette.

While, in real terms, the vegetarian city will undoubtedly turn out to be more symbolic than literal, Turin could still end up being the unofficial centre of vegetarian revenge.

Comments will be opened later

Read more: