If we’re taking a look a strong, smart, educated ladies, Ivanka Trump seems like she would be at the head of the pack.
I’d be the first to admit that I think her father is one of the worst things that has ever happened to our country. But, during the tumultuous 2016 election, I defended Ivanka. Admired her, even.
Despite spending her childhood dealing with international visitors, the paparazzi, and her parent’s scandalous divorce, Ivanka didn’t let her wealth – or the fact that she was an heiress to a multi-billion dollar company – become a backup plan. She went to Georgetown and the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in economics.
After graduating, she officially began working for her father and running her own company that recognized and celebrated working women.
From every angle, it’s mind boggling. Donald Trump is a man whose sexist and misogynistic comments are long documented and no secret. Ivanka is a woman who has built her brand off of catering to the “modern professional woman” and filling her company with ladies in positions of power.
She claims to be an advocate of paid parental leave. Ivanka made numerous speeches about the issue and used it to build a large part of her platform…even though the company that designs her clothing line offers exactly zero weeks of paid leave to their employees.
She says she’s a supporter of equal pay for equal work. Last year, Ivanka spoke at the Republican convention and encouraged Americans, via twitter, to come together on this issue…yet just a few weeks ago she backed her father and supported ending an Obama-era equal pay initiative.
There are limits to whatever seemingly “feminist” issue that Ivanka Trump champions. There will always be. In spite of her progressive brand, Ivanka’s feminism will always be contingent on her public image and her desire to remain as neutral as possible.
Feminism is not a blanket term for politicians and their daughters to seem relatable and fun. Feminism is not a marketing tactic to get people to buy clothes. Feminism is not standing up for something you “believe” in only to cower away when the issues get too controversial for your personal brand.
Everything I used to think about Ivanka Trump still applies: she’s smart, educated, and incredibly business savvy. I’m not denying that there is skill involved in running your own business, even if you’re a Trump.
But I don’t defend her anymore. I don’t admire her. Ivanka’s powerful position is unique. She could influence legislators, create female-forward opportunities at her own company or, at the very least, speak out about important women’s issues her father’s administration is stripping away and she does not use it. Instead of putting her (mountains of) money where her mouth is and acting on her feminist platform, she has stayed silent in moments where it mattered the most.
Ivanka Trump has the luxury of being a feminist when it makes her look popular and stopping when it makes the people around her uncomfortable. The true feminist heroines of our generation do not have that privilege. Others fight for equal pay for equal work every day because that is the reality of their lives. Ivanka fights for feminism because she thinks it’s the “cool” thing to do.
Like it or not, she has a fan base of people from all across the political spectrum who believe that she’s fighting for their rights in this new administration. That’s simply not true. No matter what Ivanka’s website claims, she isn’t an advocate for the working woman. Just an advocate for the ones that can buy her designer handbags.