The president’s daughter is continually used as salve for Trump’s misogyny, but most American women know what real feminism is and what sexism looks like
Thursday 2 March 2017
Ivanka Trump and Kellyanne Conway sure are working hard to convince us that the president isn’t a misogynist. While Conway tweets about Trump’s commitment to “women’s health” and covers for his bigotry on the cable news circuit, the first daughter continues her mission to present the softer side of a man whose best-known quote on gender involves “grabbing pussies.”
It would be laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous. As feminism continues to grow more powerful – millions of women marched against Trump and sexism less than two months ago – conservative women will try to use the rhetoric of the movement to mask Republican misogyny.
In a time when so many misconstrue feminism to mean “anything a woman does” rather than a well-defined movement for justice, this strategy could very well work. The mischaracterization of feminism has been political gold for women on the right: operatives who once called feminists baby-killers and man-haters now claim the label for themselves even as they support stripping American women of fundamental and hard-won rights.
The most dangerous player in all of this is Ivanka herself – poised, polished, telegenic and continually trotted out as salve for her father’s explicit sexism.
Just this week Ivanka tweeted out a picture of her father signing two laws that push for gender parity in STEM fields with the hashtag #ClosingTheGenderGap. In the shot, Trump is surrounded by female staff members, Ivanka and his wife. The photo-op was a clear response to the image that went viral in January of Trump surrounded by men as he reinstated the anti-choice Global Gag Rule. (A mandate responsible for thousands of women’s deaths across the globe.)
Even before the election, Ivanka was trying to convince us that her father isn’t misogynist. Her speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland made Trump seem more like a feminist revolutionary than a man who walks into teenage girls’ dressing rooms. She’s even called him a feminist.
Though Ivanka’s feminist bonafides are shaky at best – the child care plan she pushed doesn’t include fathers, her Women Who Work campaign is more Pinterest than activist, she supports an unrepentant racist misogynist – any criticism of her is positioned as a rejection of feminist ideals. As the Trump brand takes massive hits, for example, conservatives like Tomi Lahren insist that any boycott of Ivanka’s clothing is proof that you are not really a feminist and don’t support women.
Ivanka taking an interest is women’s issues is fine, but using them to cover for her father’s rank bigotry is reprehensible.