This weekend, Washington, D.C., flooded with over 500,000 women and men, championing feminism and marching for women’s rights threatened under Donald Trump.
And still, the new administration claims a feminist symbol in the form of first daughter Ivanka Trump, who enjoys a glamorous reputation as a woman who seems to lift up other working women. Yet below the surface, Ivanka’s feminism has a sinister side. It is less of an ideology that champions women’s equality and more of a brand that she leveraged to help get her father, the most anti-women candidate in decades, elected.
Donald Trump’s anti-woman comments proliferated during the campaign. He implied Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly was on her period when she challenged him during a debate, and he referred to Venezuelan former Miss Universe Alicia Machado as “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeper.” Most egregiously, a leaked recording released in October captured Trump implying his celebrity gave him the right to grope women.
Even when one of her father’s offensive comments involved her personally, Ivanka offered no criticism. After the sexual harassment lawsuit that ousted Trump adviser Roger Ailes from Fox News, Trump suggested last August that if Ivanka were sexually harassed at work, he, “would like to think she would find another career or find another company.”
Ivanka failed to point out that not all women have the financial ability to simply walk away from a job after being sexually harassed. Perhaps Ivanka’s particular brand of what she deems feminism does not encompass lower-income women, as suggested by an anecdote from her 2009 memoir in which she recalls being catcalled by construction workers until they realized she was the boss’s daughter. If only that worked for every woman.
Indeed, Ivanka’s ability to “soften” her father’s sexist remarks may have helped his ability to appeal to potential women voters. At the Republican National Convention, Ivanka said that her father is “color blind and gender neutral,” despite documented instance of him calling women everything from “pig” to “slob” to “disgusting animal.”
The Trump administration has announced plans to enact paid maternity leave, which sounds like a step toward women’s equality from a distance. However, the plan notably offers only maternity leave, not paternity leave, implying that the job of child care and household duties should fall primarily on women’s shoulders.
The president that Ivanka Trump helped usher into office under the guise of feminism has plans to restrict abortion and access to contraception, place limits on health care, cut funding for victims of domestic violence and halt the fight for equal pay.
The fact that Ivanka leveraged her celebrity status to support her father while still claiming to have women’s best interests at heart is particularly abhorrent. She stands to make enormous political and financial gains from Trump’s presidency, while women across the country face huge losses in their health care and reproductive rights.
In addition to Ivanka not using her celebrity to denounce anti-woman remarks during her father’s campaign, she did use it to sell her clothes. During the campaign, Ivanka’s company experienced huge success, perhaps most notably demonstrated by selling out of the dress she wore at the RNC the day after the event.
The banner of feminism that Ivanka Trump waves differs markedly from the banners waving in the streets this Saturday — the women and men who attended the Women’s March champion women’s equality. Ivanka, on the other hand, is complicit in her father’s trampling of women’s rights, and while women across the country face a significant reduction in their access to health care, equal pay and protection from domestic violence, Ivanka Trump enjoys newfound access to power, influence and prospective financial success.
Emma Lux is a junior in the College. STILL HERE appears every other Tuesday.