Ever since news broke that Melania Trump would not be moving immediately to Washington, D.C., reporters and writers everywhere have speculated that Ivanka Trump would act as First Lady in her father’s White House. However, Ivanka denied those rumors yesterday during an interview on “Good Morning America.”
Ivanka point-blank told Deborah Roberts that “there is one first lady, and she’ll do remarkable things.” She also went on to tell Roberts that the speculation itself was sexist, stating, “I think it’s an inappropriate observation.” Earlier this month, Ivanka confirmed that she will not take a job in her father’s White House, despite the fact that she is stepping down from her role in the Trump Organization and resigning from her fashion label. She and her family have moved to Washington, D.C., however, to support her father (and her husband took a role with the White House, as we reported).
Yet when asked recently if Ivanka will play a role, Donald Trump himself said, “She’s got the kids,” in an interview with The Times of London earlier this week. He also said that she “married very well,” on Thursday night at a campaign donors’ dinner in Washington. All of this seems rather strange as a woman who stood up for the rights of working women–as if who she marries is more important than the work she does.
It’s hard not to see her #WomenWhoWork missing the point of women, especially working moms, being in the workplace, since it sticks by the attitude that women “can have it all,” but we all know that no one has it all. For instance, on her website in the “Wise Words” section, there are stereotypical slogans like “Give it 110 percent” and “Don’t watch the clock, do what it does. Keep going.”
Those types of phrases aren’t enough–because right now, a lot of working women do, but that’s not enough if their jobs don’t pay them enough (because no one can live off minimum wage), if childcare is too expensive, if the ACA is repealed, if Planned Parenthood is defunded (so access to affordable pap smears is limited, for instance). Essentially, a lot of the economy is structured in a way that doesn’t benefit most people, unless you already have privileges–and these are challenges Ivanka says she cares about, but policies her father’s White House is looking to diminish even more. Trump has been outspoken, for instance, to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which has given women better access to birth control and preventive care.
Ivanka Trump’s brand of feminism is OK with that–and that itself is definitely not OK with me. Women aren’t being protected or bolstered up by Trump’s policies at all–or the current climate. For instance, research has shown that women have left their careers, because it is often impossible to balance work and kids, because the work force is aggressively unwelcome to women.
Pam Stone, a professor of sociology at Hunter College, highlighted this in her book “Opting Out?,” where she interviewed 54 “predominantly white professional women around the U.S.,” as pointed out by The Huffington Post, who had left their jobs because of motherhood. However, these mothers claim they didn’t have a choice–that the choice was essentially made for them as they felt isolated at work.
How is Ivanka going to influence her father to change these inequalities, that she claims are important to her? Let’s not forget she is responsible for her father proposing maternity leave and child care tax credits–however, the paid leave only six weeks and cover only women who physically gave birth (meaning you don’t count if you’re a foster, adoptive, or “secondary” parent). And the actual benefits from the tax credit is unclear.
While I don’t set out to diminish Ivanka’s positive influence–since any kind of paid leave is a needed change–so far, that’s not enough. The women in the U.S. shouldn’t have to settle for subpar benefits, either. We deserve more than that. Hopefully, Ivanka will use her influence for good–and push her father to make positive changes for women–because at this point, we need all the help we can get.