On January 20th, Donald Trump arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in a Secret Service SUV to be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Instead of escorting the incoming first lady Melania Trump up the White House steps, as previous presidents have done, he charged ahead without her; and after greeting President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama, he walked into the White House ahead of all three of them. This photograph by Kevin Dietsch shows Obama and his wife tenderly placing their hands on Melania’s back to help her through the door in Trump’s absence. The image followed a presidential campaign fueled by Trump’s sexist rhetoric and disparaging comments against his female opponent Hillary Clinton, leaving many in fear of what Trump’s victory could mean for women. But here, the image symbolizes the subtle, everyday manifestation of these comments.
As a historic number of protestors prepared for the Women’s March on Washington the following day, in which some 500,000 individuals gathered in solidarity for women’s human rights, Trump moved hastily toward his new throne while neglecting to show a basic courtesy to his wife.
The Obamas, who fought for and issued a record number of policies to encourage the fair treatment of women in the United States, are shown gently picking up Trump’s slack. And yet, with her head bowed and her robin’s-egg-blue gloves clenched into nervous firsts, the new first lady looks far more like she’s being led straight off a plank.