I recently read a USA Today article which sweetly detailed Ivanka Trump’s triumphant role as first daughter of the United States.
The article, entitled: “Ivanka Trump: The one constant amid the turbulence”, characterized the frequent FLOTUS stand-in, as a forward thinking business woman who has remained cool, calm, collected and supportive of her Father, as “forty-five” continues to scare the living daylights out most of the country, and provide comedy relief to the world, all at the same time.
They show numerous photos of Trump in various states of “service”; which she has conveniently made available on her personal Instagram page. In one photo she is shown enjoying a ‘Seat At The Table’ (the ironic caption of her IG post) in the Oval office while seated between her Father and Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. In another she is shown taking a call as she balances her youngest son, Theodore, on her knee while sitting in an undisclosed location in the White House. As I scrolled through the photos, I thought about how extraordinary and extravagant this 35-year-old woman’s life is and has been her entire life. What a privilege! All because she was born a Trump.
Now, this isn’t the part where I pull out my tiny violin and complain about how I wasn’t born into such privilege but let’s face it, most 35 year-old American women – particularly women of color – haven’t lived the charmed life of Ivanka. Like it or not, skin privilege exists but to be born white, and rich with the last name Trump seems to be ice cream on top of cake.
How many business loans has Ivanka had to apply for? How many times has she been denied a business loan due to her race or gender? How many times has she received a lower wage or been passed over for a promotion because of her race or gender? How hard has she really had to work to obtain the businesses she has? I’m willing to bet money, that as a Trump, she has not had to worry about many of these issues, if any.
She has found success by way of the Trump name. Had she been born a Smith instead, she may have very well found herself facing one of the foregoing challenges. But alas, she was born to a billionaire and a socialite. She will never know the challenges of the average American woman, and may therefore miss important details and issues in her stance for gender equality in business or otherwise.
As she builds her platform on women having a seat at the proverbial table, I wonder how much of this is busy work to seem connected and in touch with women’s interests and issues and, how much of it is genuine. My cause for suspicion is directly linked to her familial privilege.
Her father and his administration have made it known they are in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood (PP), which performs more than just abortions. As most know, PP offers various medical services for women including: annual physicals, cervical cancer screenings, STD screenings and medical treatment. PP is available to everyone but is most frequented by women with little to no health insurance and little to no income. I have yet to hear Ivanka speak on behalf of medical services for low or no income women. Could part of the reason be that she simply can’t relate? Has she ever had to visit PP? I honestly don’t know, although I highly doubt it.
I don’t doubt that she has worked hard to maintain her businesses and her personal reputation as a successful businesswoman. However, given her background and birthright, I doubt very seriously she’s had as many obstacles as Oprah Winfrey, Vera Wang, or even Martha Stewart.
Trump has the biggest advertiser in the country in her corner – her father and his administration. When retailers stop carrying her merchandise, who speaks out on her behalf? Daddy – POTUS. When that doesn’t work, he sends in the Calvary – Kellyanne Conway. What American businesswoman has this kind of government backing? How can she relate to us and our obstacles? Simple. She can’t.
Trump is inherently out of touch with the difficulties and struggles of the average American woman – particularly Black and Latino women. It’s tough for someone to relate to another without having lived it but, it isn’t completely impossible. But let’s be real, the only thing Ivanka has in common with most women in America, is anatomy.
She’s no party heiress ala Paris Hilton but, she’s definitely in a lane she seems unqualified for. Although one does not have to be from the hood, the ghetto, or the barrio to be in touch with the people, Ivanka Trump far exceeds the reality that most women in this country deem relatable.
So what’s the difference between Ivanka and let’s say Chelsea Clinton? Chelsea, although a daughter of wealthy politicians, comes from the background of philanthropy and advocacy. She has worked for women’s and children’s rights her entire life. While Ivanka is a business woman and a novice in the area of gender equality advocacy, and more importantly has not positioned herself to be a genuine ally on the subject. Yet she has vowed to fight on our behalf. If genuine, her desire to advocate is tremendous but her ability to connect and really understand the challenges of the average American woman, remains unseen.
And while one can argue her grace and elegance is sufficient to represent all women, because we are not monolithic and are therefore different, one cannot argue with the fact that her upbringing and rise to prominence is anything short of privilege and pageantry. I am not sure of Mrs. Trump-Kushner’s intentions with regard to gender equality but I guess all we can do is hope for the best. Time will tell. On the other hand, I believe Ivanka is nothing like her father but, enjoys the sweet taste of Trump kool aid. Can you say, Stockholm Soup?