A photo showing Ivanka Trump sitting in her father’s place at a Saturday G20 summit session sparked controversy over whether Trump — who just in June said she tries to “stay out of politics” — should have been representing the government of the United States of America in the working session of world leaders titled “Partnership With Africa, Migration and Health.”
Or at all.
Trump is no stranger to criticism over her involvement in her father’s administration, especially from women who expect more of the self-proclaimed women’s rights advocate. But according to David Bossie, President Donald Trump’s former deputy campaign manager and the man behind 2008’s Hillary: The Movie which featured a faceless Clinton stand-in in a deliberately bad wig and with a large butt, women who critique Ivanka Trump are hypocrites and bad feminists.
“These feminists are only feminists in name only,” Bossie said in an interview with Fox News. “They don’t fight for women across the board. They never have. If you agree with them, they are on your side and they will fight for you. If you are not on their side, they will demean you in the most ugly terms.”
Bossie added that these alleged fake feminists only embrace the tenets of feminism when “it affects their checkbook.”
Of course, that’s the precise accusation that feminists have leveled at Trump herself.
Trump has used feminism to build her own brand, from her #WomenWhoWork campaign, which promotes her fashion line and personal website, to her similarly-titled book, Women Who Work, where she encourages women to negotiate raises and strike a healthy work-life balance without ever acknowledging systematic sexism.
Meanwhile, Trump works as an assistant to the president in an administration that revoked former President Barack Obama’s executive order promoting fair pay and safe work conditions for federal contractors. The measure forced companies that did business with the federal government to disclose information about men’s and women’s pay, intended to help close the country’s gender wage gap, and banned them from using forced arbitration clauses to resolve claims of sexual discrimination, assault or harassment.
But this isn’t the only way that Trump has failed to make good on her promise to serve women’s interests in the White House.
Under her watchful eye, her father has reinstated the global gag rule, given states permission to withhold funds from abortion clinics, promoted a health care plan that would be disastrous for women’s health and paid the women who work in his White House just $0.80 to the man’s dollar.
Criticizing Trump for any of that, let alone for sitting in for her father during a head-of-state discussion on a life-or-death issue for hundreds of thousands or millions of people, doesn’t make anyone a bad feminist.
Contrary to Bossie’s apparent belief, feminism doesn’t require women to support all other women, regardless of what they say or do. To root for Trump, who works for one of the most dangerous administrations for women in modern history, would be to advocate in favor of a mealy-mouthed brand of feminism that eschews concrete intersectional policy advocacy in favor of turning anything a woman does into a feminist act by virtue of her gender.
Trump taking her father’s place at Saturday’s G20 session on African migration and health issues makes it all the more clear that supporting a self-proclaimed feminist isn’t an inherently feminist act: Despite reportedly being added to the session because of her involvement on the women’s entrepreneurship project with the World Bank, Trump had nothing to say during the G20 session in regards to a topic that has profound implications for women from the region.
Holding her accountable is the only feminist response; applauding her ability to keep her father’s seat warm is not.