Ivanka Trump: Friend or Foe to Women?

USA

Last Tuesday, Ivanka Trump joined female leaders to discuss women’s issues at the W20 Summit in Berlin. She was invited to speak about her White House position, her views on feminism, and her business. But Ivanka’s presence seemed strained and uncomfortable onstage among the other invited guests like Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany; Christine Lagarde, director of the International Monetary Fund; Chrystia Freeland, Canadian foreign minister, and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands.

When moderator Miriam Meckel asked Ivanka about her father’s attitude towards women, she responded by telling the audience that President Trump has been “a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive.” She was met with boos, hisses, and groans from the audience.

It’s hard to be surprised by the heckling though. Considering all the aggressions against women Trump has on his record, it seems downright ballsy of Ivanka to make that claim. Being caught on tape talking about groping women, being accused multiple times of sexual harassment and assault, claiming women who got abortions should be punished, and saying that equal-pay laws were antithetical to capitalism don't exactly paint Trump as the biggest supporter of women’s rights. Especially considering that just a few weeks ago he signed a law that allows states to withhold federal funding for general health services to Planned Parenthood and other clinics where abortions are performed. Depriving neighborhood clinics of funding so women across America can’t receive affordable health care and health resources completely undercuts that champion status Ivanka touts.

Look, I hate hecklers. Even for comedy’s sake, I think it’s a distasteful practice. And even if it’s well-intentioned like attempting to call someone out on their bullshit, it’s still the wrong way to do it. Booing or shouting things from an audience accomplishes nothing. Being disruptive can sometimes be helpful for getting a message across, but engaging someone in a real conversation will do more good and probably go much further towards changing someone’s mind than jeering at them loudly from a crowd. Besides which, everyone has the right to voice their opinion- you don’t get to shout down or block someone just because you disagree with their perspective. I may not agree with someone, but I will fight for their right to say it.

It’s why the recent Ann Coulter news pisses me off, and why those hecklers booing Ivanka annoyed me too. When Ivanka called herself a feminist at the summit in Germany, the audience essentially tried to shut her down. But feminism is all about choice, so why did they think it was acceptable for them to essentially tell her that she was not a feminist? At least she is embracing the term, unlike Angela Merkel who hesitated a rather long time before answering the question.

It got me thinking though: Ivanka has styled herself a champion of women, but is she really? Don’t start hating on this thought piece just yet; I was genuinely curious. I’m a firm believer that true feminism gives choice to all women on how they want to live their lives, so when I consider Ivanka’s appearance in Germany a failure, am I a hypocrite?

It’s not just her refusal to condemn her father that bothers me. Although yes, that does bother me, but it’s rather unreasonable to expect a daughter to publicly denounce her father, especially when her life and livelihood are so intertwined with his role. What bothers me more is thinking about the 53% of white women in the electorate who voted for Donald Trump in the first place. The 53% who voted for Trump because they were voting against Hillary Clinton. Many claimed that they were voting because they were worried about the economy, about Second Amendment rights, immigration, terrorism, and even over anger about the Affordable Care Act. In interviews with the New York Times, many of them sound like they’re making excuses for abusive husbands. “You get through the bad and you focus on the good. Basically these were our choices, and I felt he was the better choice, and I had to overlook the negatives and focus on the positives,” said Sandy Pearson from Chattanooga, Tennessee.​
“If I turned down every candidate who objectified women, I’d vote for no one,” said Rebecca Gregory from Roseville, Michigan.

“Do I think Trump’s trying to send women back to the kitchen? No, his daughter is a great example,” Taylor David from Enfield, Connecticut said during her interview.

And therein lies the problem. It’s not that I think the sins of the father should be transferred to his children (because seriously, media needs to leave young Barron alone), but that Ivanka is being seen as a role model for women. And even though she is a household name, I’m not sure that she’s done the work to deserve that recognition.

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