News & Politics

Let's Stop Pretending Ivanka Trump Ever Gave a Damn About 'Women's Rights'

The first daughter supports scrapping a plan to help guarantee equal pay. No one should be surprised.

Photo Credit: NASA (Joel Kowsky) / Flickr

So much for Ivanka Trump as America’s moderate savior. The favored first daughter – who wants her name to be synonymous with women’s equality at work – has failed again and again to provide a measured influence on her father’s obsessive rollback of women’s rights. Her presence in the White House, a polished false promise, has done almost nothing to protect the most vulnerable victims of Trump’s policies.

This week, for example, the Trump administration decided to do away with a policy that would have mandated employers document their workers’ pay alongside gender and race information and provide it to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The idea is that requiring this kind of accountability from employers will help to narrow the wage gap. Tracy Sturdivant, executive director of Make It Work, called the administration’s decision “an unacceptable and deliberate attack on women in the workplace, especially black and Hispanic women”.

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Given Ivanka’s “Women Who Work” campaign and her repeated claim that she wants to level the playing field for women’s wages, you would think the businesswoman would have rallied support to keep the policy in place – or at the very least disagreed with her father’s decision. (“Where I disagree with my father, he knows it and I express myself with total candor,” she once told Gayle King on CBS.)

Instead, Ivanka supported her father’s move, releasing a flat statement that claimed while “the intention was good ... the proposed policy would not yield the intended results”. Watch out, Gloria Steinem!

It’s become a pattern: Ivanka claims to care about an issue, her father does something horrible, Ivanka says and does nothing.

The first daughter has claimed to support the LGBT community, but where was her steady advice or independent spirit when her father hastily tweeted out that trans people would be banned from serving in any capacity in the military?

Outside of taking a few meetings the first months of Trump’s presidency, why has Ivanka said nothing of her father’s destructive stance on climate change – especially as Texas is underwater, battered by a hurricane?

Despite her supposed support for women’s rights, Ivanka’s sole suggestion to help save Planned Parenthood from the Republican effort to defund the organization was that they stop providing abortions.

When its president, Cecile Richards, of course refused this strange offer, Ivanka’s surrogates tried to reach out to board members behind Richards’ back. (They were given the same answer.) Richards later said: “Anyone who works in this White House is responsible for addressing why women are in the crosshairs of basically every single policy that we’ve seen out of this administration.”

And after Trump made a horrific statement in defense of white supremacists who terrorized Charlottesville, Virginia, and marched through the streets chanting “Jews will not replace us”, Ivanka’s best effort was to offer a tweet denouncing racism.

It’s not that I expected any better – I didn’t. Not on any of it. Despite all the conservative swooning over the telegenic businesswoman and the moderates who held out hope that she would steady Trump’s hand, it was always clear that Ivanka was nothing more than well-placed shield against accusations of bigotry against her father. Perhaps he listens to her counsel, and perhaps these issues matter to her to some extent. But clearly not enough.

It’s time to stop hoping that anyone in the White House or the Trump family will be able to stop the president from destroying progress made or hurting the American people. It’s up to us. And I have more faith in the American people than I do a woman who can’t say no to her dad.

Jessica Valenti is a daily columnist for the Guardian US. She is the author of four books on feminism, politics and culture, and founder of Feministing.com