Is Ivanka Trump What ‘True Feminism’ Looks Like?

Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy
Contributing Writer


On Tuesday, first daughter Ivanka Trump made waves on social media for something other than another retail partner giving her brand the boot.

In a Facebook post, Trump shared yet another image of her carefully curated #WomenWhoWork lifestyle:

The post quickly exploded, with many sounding off with adoring comments. The top one, in fact, stated, “This photo is more representative of true feminism than those people dressed like vaginas marching and yelling about the patriarchy.”

Rob Braddock Jr., the composer, seemed to be referencing the millions of women who mobilized across the nation for women’s marches on Jan. 21.

However, according to experts, it’s unavoidably problematic to call the image of Trump, wearing black trousers and high heels while talking on the phone in the White House, an ideal representation of feminism.

“With all due respect to the commentators, if they think there are problems with pussy hat feminism, I think there are some problems with Ivanka Trump’s feminism,” Juliet Williams, a professor of gender studies and chair of the social science interdepartmental program at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), tells Yahoo Style.

“Some of the defining features of ‘pussy hat’ feminism are that it’s meant to make some people, especially men, uncomfortable — especially to make it unavoidable to confront the fact that certain people, among them our president, have a history of relating to women like they’re walking pussies. And that’s [Trump’s] own language.”

So while some commentators might only see women “dressed like vaginas,” Williams notes that “by putting these hats on, what women are doing is saying, ‘Look at how ridiculous it is to look this way and be treated this way. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, imagine how it makes us feel.’”

But that’s not all that’s challenging about the much-heralded (it has received nearly half a million likes in 48 hours) Ivanka Trump post.

“There is definitely this idea that women yelling with pussy hats on their heads are bad, and part of this badness is symbolized by their appearing unattractive as a result. And then here, in contrast, you have this beautiful woman who is a mother and is positioning herself as the right kind of mother and the right kind of feminist. And that’s impossible, since feminism is, by its nature, an oppositional standpoint,” says Williams.

The working mother historically actually owes a great deal to feminism. “But in recent decades, many women — and feminists in particular — saw that that victory came at the cost of a double-standard. Women are expected to be amazing professionals and to have to retain amazing responsibilities in the domestic sphere,” Williams adds.

As for Trump, she represents the working woman as a balancing act, a feat that should be celebrated, as opposed to the reality of “the second shift,” as Williams puts it. She continues, “Being a working mom is not a style — and it’s an existence that’s made a lot harder by the kinds of policies the Trump administration is taking a stand on.”

Furthermore, says Williams, it’s not so simple to casually label Ivanka Trump a feminist — and certainly not just because she is often accessorized with her #WomenWhoWork hashtag.

“Here’s a woman, and she’s in the White House,” says Williams of Trump’s recent social media photo share. “But why? Was she elected president? Was any woman elected? No. A powerful man — her dad — brought her there. I don’t know what kind of feminism that is. And then we see her wearing a business suit, and she’s on the phone — is this because she works in the White House? No. Her husband does. Her dad does. But she actually has been excluded from any kind of official recognition. I don’t know what kind of feminism that is.”

Related: TJ Maxx, Marshalls Latest Stores to Back Away From Ivanka Trump’s Brand

Related: Sean Spicer Defends Trump’s Rip on Nordstrom for Dropping Ivanka’s Line

 

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