The Trump era has produced its share of hypocrisy when it comes to gender equality. But Tuesday’s been special, even by Trump standards.
For example, on Friday, President Donald Trump declared April 2017 Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Due to his alleged expressed enthusiasm for groping women without their permission, it was perhaps the most ironic declaration of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month ever.
Today, his daughter Ivanka is taking her turn in the family business of naked hypocrisy, marking Equal Pay Day with a tweet that reads, “#EqualPayDay is a reminder that women deserve equal pay for equal work. We must work to close the gender pay gap!”
You know who actually has some ability to help close the pay gap, if she actually cared about anything beyond Ivanka, The Brand? Ivanka Trump. Bet you 80 cents on the dollar she’ll do exactly what she’s always done to advocate for women and girls in a real way: nothing.
It’s been well-established that, when it comes to gender equality, Ivanka is a hack who wears the language of empowerment like a tacky piece of QVC jewelry, a person who is much more into posing for photos about advocacy than doing the work of advocacy. She’s White Lady Conference Feminism gone metastatic. But her posing as an advocate for workplace equality is especially rich. That’s because during her time as a business leader, Ivanka hasn’t exactly been a woman’s dream boss.
Last fall, Marissa Velez Kraxberger, Ivanka Trump’s former chief marketing officer, wrote about how she had to fight for eight weeks’ maternity leave after she began working for Ivanka. “When I first interviewed with Ivanka I was 2 months pregnant, she called to offer me a job, which I was at the time very excited about, and when I asked about maternity leave she said she would have to think about it, that at Trump they don't offer maternity leave and that she went back to work just a week after having her first child.”
To add another bitter note to this anecdote: Kraxberger’s team was the one that came up with the #WomenWhoWork hashtag.
It sure doesn’t help Ivanka’s Girl Power bona fides that shoes in her clothing line were manufactured in cramped factory in Dongguan, China. Other items of her eponymous brand of clothing come by way of Bangladesh and Indonesia. Last summer, some of her Chinese-made scarves were recalled over burn risk. Yes, at all points on the Ivanka Trump supply chain, she’s got women covered.
But even if the Trump family weren’t to gender equality what the Ford Pinto was to cars, Ivanka still have some explaining to do. On March 27, President Trump signed an executive order rolling back the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order. The Obama-era order mandated that companies seeking government contracts needed to adhere to some basic standards of pay equality and safety. Where was Ivanka? A photo opp? Was she Tweeting? Whatever it was, she did nothing to stop it.
Just as Ivanka did nothing to stop her father from defunding the United Nations Population Fund yesterday, an organization that helps poor women access reproductive health care (including assisting pregnant refugees in giving birth). Just as she did nothing to interfere in health care negotiations that would have removed maternity care from standard insurance plans. And as she did nothing when her father’s comments about sexual harassment surfaced, or when he insulted Carly Fiorina’s face. And as she did nothing when her father’s senior advisor Kellyanne Conway tweeted her support for a man who played an outsized role in the harassment campaign known as Gamergate, which targeted many female journalists and game designers. And as she did nothing when her brother declared that man deserved a Pulitzer. And as she did nothing when her father reinstated the Mexico City rule that cuts off funding from international health care organizations that mention the existence of abortion. Ad nauseum. Ad infinitum.
Given her track record since her father began running for president, the only logical conclusion one can reach is that she’s not really a trusted White House advisor, or she’s not really an advocate for women and girls. Ivanka’s work has served no women but Ivanka.
When I think about Ivanka Trump’s insistence that she’s an “advocate” in the face of a reality that dictates otherwise, I think of two phrases that have bounced around the zeitgeist in the last months. “Nevertheless, she persisted” and “Nasty woman” have a couple of things in common. Both originated from men--Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, respectively. They were both originally hurled at Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton. And they’ve both been co-opted by fans of those women, or fans of the idea of those women.
Ivanka Trump aspires to be in the same room as women like Warren and Clinton. She bleeds with effort in her pursuit of being a professional empowerment figure, a sort of Princess Diana for people without Google. But if Ivanka had her own wrist tattoo-friendly catch phrase, it’s pretty clear it’d be “And yet, she did nothing.”
And don’t be surprised if we see a lot more nothing from her in the future.