Ivanka Trump’s False Flag Feminism
It has always been dangerous to be a woman in the U.S. However, in the months since our last presidential election, women have all the more reason to be concerned. Our president not only brags about his sexual assaults and thinks that it is acceptable to grab women, his administration has also threatened the funding of crucial organizations like Planned Parenthood, potentially limiting women’s access to contraception, abortion, and basic reproductive healthcare. These policies do not even begin to cover the damage that has been done to the lives of non-cis women and women of color. Women and femmes of all races, ethnicities, and sexualities are finding their identities and physical bodies threatened by an administration that will not yield one inch of its maniacal control, no matter the consequences that will and are arising from these archaic policies and attitudes.
This situation feels hopeless, but history shows that in times like these, a hero, a beacon of hope, often emerges to rally the troops to action. However, in this case, the ‘champion’ of feminism that has been awarded to American women is not exactly what some (read: all) women might be hoping for. This new feminist vision is no other than Ivanka Trump, the least useless of President Donald Trump’s offspring. Ivanka, who has identified herself as a feminist, has been inserted into her father’s administration, apparently automatically signaling that her father loves feminism and is nothing less than delighted to listen to the needs of all women. Her presence in the oval office is somehow seen as proof that she will be a moderating force on her father, providing a ‘feminist’s’ perspective on his outdated policies.
This is a stupid assumption.
Ivanka Trump has decided to be a feminist icon because it suits her goals. She and her team chose to make her a feminist because it makes her less disgusting than the rest of her family. It makes her look like she cares about the American people, and this makes it look like her father does, too. Being a feminist has become almost trendy in our culture, and so by aligning herself with it, Ivanka is in fact creating a link between herself and pop icon status. By placing herself at the opposite end of the spectrum of who Donald Trump is she creates hype and drama around their brand. It is no coincidence that her recent book, Women Who Work, came out at the same time that the Trump administration pushed through policies that threatened the reproductive health and security of women across the country and around the world. Ivanka’s book basically boils down to the argument that to be a successful businesswoman, all you need is to be a rich, white, feminine, submissive woman who has the resources and opportunities to be more like a Trump, even though she really is just power hungry and self centered. She represents the ideal far-right feminist; white, blonde, wealthy, successful (but not more so than the men in her life), and devoted to her nuclear family.
The book co-opts the work and words of feminists of color, and is completely disassociated from the real experiences of real women. This version of woman can be successful in Trump’s America because this is the only kind of woman that Trump wants to hear. Her specific brand of feminism, one that exists solely for political and economic gain, is curated to suit the needs of her father. It provides a sense of comfort to feminists unable or unwilling to confront the complexities of intersectionalities of oppression, and it provides Trump with a person to point to when his stance on women is questioned. Ivanka has become a form of feminism in which her father’s white conservative supporters do not feel threatened by a woman and in which rich, white women can feel like they have an ‘ally’ in their fight for whitewashed feminism. This is not what most women in the U.S. need. Ivanka represents a feminism that doesn’t make a difference, a feminism that will in no way make any change, and it is absurd to think anything other than this.
This creation of a feminist face is nothing short of genius. Rather than simply attacking feminism and its values, the Trump administration has installed a false flag feminist to cover their tracks as they wreak havoc on the rights of American women. Ivanka’s label as a feminist allows her to masquerade as a beacon of hope to women across the country, and gives her a platform to pretend that her actions and opinions are in any way associated with a feminist mindset or set of values. Ivanka is not a feminist, not by any stretch of the imagination. She is simply capitalizing on the concept of feminism as something that people are attracted to.
A perfect example of Ivanka’s false feminism came only a few days ago when her father announced-via Twitter-that trans people will no longer be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. His ridiculous anti-trans action sparked outrage throughout the LGBTQ and feminist communities, and is broadly seen as a useless and stupid move by the Trump administration. It is obvious that this policy should have never been brought up, let alone announced to the public. One would think that with such a powerful and staunch feminist like Ivanka at her father's side, she would have been able to explain to him that trans people have rights, too, and that he should not announce to the world that he was implementing this archaic and absurd mandate. However, it honestly should not be surprising that she did nothing. Trans rights and the rights of women of color hold no importance to Ivanka, and as a result, she will do absolutely nothing to protect them. Ivanka Trump is nothing more than a formidable roadblock to feminist policy, and is posing as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
All in all, anyone who has maintained consciousness over the last six months should be able to recognize Ivanka Trump’s lies. It is blatantly obvious that Ivanka is a feminist in an attempt to make her father less repulsive and give him the ability to steamroll his archaic and despicable policies. However, it is not enough for us to simply be aware of this. It is all good and well to know that we are being duped by our president and his family, but this won’t stop it from happening. The only way to combat our president and his daughter’s false feminism is to actively fight back. Women, femmes, and allies need to combat this regime; we do not have another choice. This is not the time for complacency or false feminism, it is the time to truly stand up for our rights and the rights of those around us. Women and femmes cannot be silenced, even by the complicit presence of Ivanka Trump. We must fight against Trump, because the true face of feminism is brave and angry and prepared to take a stand.
The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily represent the views of other Arbitror contributors or of Arbitror as a whole.
Photo: "Ivanka Trump" by Michael Vadon for Flickr with a CC BY 2.0 license.