Now that the second round of the 2016 presidential debates are over (AKA: that night that my heart felt like it was going to explode in my chest… in a bad way), we can all sort of breathe a little better–and try to figure out what actually happened. Through all of this, I’m always mystified by Ivanka Trump, the seemingly calm, poised, super businesswoman–and daughter of Donald Trump.
For instance, the day before the debate, she favorited a Huffington Post tweet about her father giving the go-ahead on calling her a “piece of ass.” Which is kind of crazy. Of course, I assume it’s not really Ivanka doing the favoriting, but probably someone she hired to manage her Twitter, but still, it’s very bizarre and confusing behavior. For a woman who touts herself as a feminist and leader of the working woman’s movement, it’s strange to see Ivanka allow herself to be objectified–by her father, nonetheless–and literally LIKE it.
She really did! See below:
Of course, Ivanka has also been mysteriously silent regarding her father’s “locker room” comments–which have outraged many across the board regardless of political stance or affiliation (and rightly so). While Trump literally said that “words don’t matter,” they really, really do–especially if you’re in a position of power (like, um, the president of the United States). Excusing what he said 11 years ago as something that “men just do” is also an insult to men, as if men can’t help themselves but objectify and callously overpower women–and that all men are sexual predators to some extent.
While it’s crucial to note Ivanka is not her dad, it’s also confusing for me, as a feminist and sexual assault survivor, to trust anything Ivanka says. She rallies for women, but then also stands by a man who says you can grab a woman by her sexual organs. For many women across the country, especially young women who are still learning their own place in the world, it sends a terrible message. By not speaking out against her father’s words and actions, Ivanka is saying that women’s bodies don’t really matter, that it’s OK to support sexism and sexual violence, and that you should stay silent to appease the status quo. Wrong.
Let me say, too, that my parents are Trump supporters–and I love my parents–so I get Ivanka wanting to appease and support her dad, but there’s also a line that needs to be drawn, just as I have in my own life.
And I’m not the only one who has taken personal offense to Trump’s recent comments, and who want the Trump campaign to actually respond with a real apology. Actress and poet Amber Tamblyn, for instance, wrote about how Trump’s comment triggered her own sexual assault:
I need to tell you a story. With the love and support of my husband, I’ve decided to share it publicly. A very long time ago I ended a long emotionally and physically abusive relationship with a man I had been with for some time. One night I was at a show with a couple girlfriends in Hollywood, listening to a DJ we all loved. I knew there was a chance my ex could show up, but I felt protected with my girls around me. Without going into all the of the details, I will tell you that my ex did show up, and came up to me in the crowd. He’s a big guy, taller than me. The minute he saw me, he picked me up with one hand by my hair and with his other hand, he grabbed me under my skirt by my vagina— my pussy?— and lifted me up off the floor, literally, and carried me, like something he owned, like a piece of trash, out of the club. His fingers were practically inside of me, his other hand wrapped tightly around my hair. I screamed and kicked and cried. He carried me this way, suspended by his hands, all the way across the room, pushing past people until he got to the front door. My friends ran after him, trying to stop him. We got to the front door and I thank God his brothers were also there and intervened. In the scuffle he grabbed at my clothes, trying to hold onto me, screaming at me, and inadvertently ripped off my grandmother’s necklace, which I was wearing. The rest of this night is a blur I do not remember. How I got out to the car. How I got away from him that night. I never returned for my necklace either. That part of my body, which the current Presidential Nominee of the United States Donald Trump recently described as something he’d like to grab a woman by, was bruised from my ex-boyfriend’s violence for at least the next week. I had a hard time wearing jeans. I couldn’t sleep without a pillow between my legs to create space. To this day I remember that moment. I remember the shame. I am afraid my mom will read this post. I’m even more afraid that my father could ever know this story. That it would break his heart. I couldn’t take that. But you understand, don’t you? I needed to tell a story. Enjoy the debates tonight.
In addition, Canadian author Kelly Oxford tweeted in response to Trump’s comments two day ago, sharing the first time she was sexually assaulted. She also asked that other women reply with their stories too, which millions of women did:
Women: tweet me your first assaults. they aren’t just stats. I’ll go first:
Old man on city bus grabs my “pussy” and smiles at me, I’m 12.
— kelly oxford (@kellyoxford) October 7, 2016
I am currently receiving 2 sex assault stories per second. Anyone denying rape culture, please look at my timeline now. #notokay
— kelly oxford (@kellyoxford) October 7, 2016
The interesting thing about Ivanka, according to an article The Huffington Post published earlier this year, is that she’s hardly defied her father’s wishes:
“In fact, Ivanka has acted against her father’s wishes on only a handful of occasions. One of them, a few sources told me, came when she decided to convert to Judaism… The power dynamic made him uncomfortable. His feeling, the source said, was: Why should my daughter have to convert to marry Jared? He should have to convert to marry her.”
The author went on to say why Ivanka and Jared support Donald, despite his racism and sexism:
“I asked someone else who has known both Ivanka and Jared for years why they had thrown their lot in with Donald so whole-heartedly. “Power, power, power, power,” he speculated. “Jared’s got plenty of money, but the only way he can separate himself from his family is power. They’re a great match because that’s also what Ivanka is after.
Ivanka and Jared appear to have made the calculation that, even with some bad press, the exposure provided by a presidential run will only make them more influential over time.”
Ivanka’s silence on Donald Trump’s remarks are dangerous, because it perpetuates the fact that sexist comments are routinely rationalized and excused–which is why women, like me, are often not believed when they reveal their own sexual traumas and assaults. This happened to me, and it shouldn’t keep happening to anyone else. This is me, as a survivor, saying no to silence and complacency.