Ivanka’s Latest Flawed Brand: Feminist

Ivanka Trump wants to empower women.

Or, at least, that’s what she says. It appears that the cognitive dissonances that exists between saying what you want to do and your actions is a Trump family trait.

As progressive activists have pointed out, Ivanka and her father tout “empowerment” — but their behavior is full of actions that disempower the very communities she claims she supports.

The Trump administration has sent Ivanka Trump out as an emissary for “women’s empowerment.” She even released a new book titled “Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success,” whose profits will be donated to charities committed to empowering and educating women and girls — specifically the Ivanka M. Trump Charitable Fund, of which Ivanka herself is the grant advisor.

Ivanka’s brand of “empowerment” isn’t feminism, because it leaves out a huge majority of women, particularly low-income women, women of color, femmes and gender non-conforming folks. The policies she promotes from the White House, alongside her father, don’t actually empower women at all. Today’s feminism is inclusive, meaning it not only advocates for women’s rights and gender equality, but it also understands how women’s overlapping identities — race, class, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity — impact the way each of us experiences oppression. Feminism isn’t just about empowerment — it’s about full equity, equality and liberation for all.

Ivanka Trump says she is “proud” of her father’s advocacy on paid leave, but the policy he supports — 6 weeks of unemployment leave for mothers who just gave birth, which would take away from unemployment a woman would receive if she lost her job due to pregnancy discrimination and does nothing for new fathers or adoptive parents — does next to nothing for working families.

Her father also refuses to support policies and systems that would actually help women who work and their families — like affordable contraception, comprehensive health care coverage, the right to unionize… and yet again, no objection from Ivanka.

It’s disappointing that she stood silently by as her father unleashed relentless attacks on women both in the United States and across the world. By standing by her father, she was complicit in her father dismantling the “Let Girls Learn” program, which helped facilitate educational opportunities and provide healthy meals for young girls in developing countries. She said nothing when her father signed the Global Gag Rule, which hinders access to comprehensive reproductive health care worldwide. And, you guessed it — mum was the word when her father tried to “negotiate” with Planned Parenthood to pressure them into ending abortion care as one of the services they provide (spoiler alert: he failed).

And she has been silent as her father has attacked communities of color, sparking fear and anxiety in many communities. Empowerment for Black Muslim girls in the United States doesn’t look like being profiled and made vulnerable to violence because of your religion. We’re pretty sure empowerment for immigrant women doesn’t look like living in fear of reporting sexual assault and domestic violence out of fears they will be deported. The Black community stood by in horrified tears as their president refused to address the violence and harm they face in their communities. Trans students watched in fear as Trump signed an executive order making it easier for schools to discriminate against them. And still — silence from Ivanka.

That’s not feminism. Selling out reproductive freedom and communities different than your own just so you can have a West Wing office, a book deal, and boost your brand isn’t feminism. This “feminism lite” is insidious, and it is dangerous. It undermines the real work women — particularly women of color — have been doing for a long time.

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