FEMME FEED | AN INSTALLATION OF “OF THE MOMENT”
STORIES FOR GIRLS IN THE KNOW.
The sh*t I will do in the name of research often turns into great dinner party anecdotes, however I don’t think reading the entirety of Ivanka Trump’s new book Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules of Success will benefit me in such a way. The author, self-hyped business lady extraordinaire, and daughter of the 110 day-old POTUS sets her intentions for your read by making it clear that through her various roles she seeks to “improve the lives of countless women and girls…” by “unleashing their powers”. It doesn’t take long to pick up on what’s actually going on between the two shiny book covers, stuffed with a profusion of quotes borrowed from just about everyone from Mindy Kaling to The Dalai Lama- both of whom I assume have rolled their eyes right from their own heads, if Ivanka bothered to clear the usage with them, at all. In one way she is trying to set the record on her feminist bonafides straight, and in another she’s merely regurgitating the ideas of business how-to guides — literally nothing in this book is an original Ivanka Trump theory or solution to success. The higher issue, however, is not that Ivanka Trump is telling a mass of women that they can ‘have it all’, but is doing so from her own golden tower where nannies, drivers, and “teams” as she calls them, assist in her daily routines — proving only that she is incredibly disconnected even after spending all that time she references on the campaign trail meeting said women across America. Sadder even is that Ivanka is only demeaning the value of the conversation of what a woman should want when wanting to have it all.
Ivanka Trump wants to redefine success with you. She says it’s totally cool if you wear heels and be the boss- go for it, girl! In the 1949 feminist manifesto The Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir, the writer delves into the crevasses of femininity as a culturally created concept. We are not born with gender constructs but are bred into them throughout our malleable childhoods, cast in the preset templates of our world. From fertility, to wardrobe what it means to be outwardly female in the eyes of the world is defined far before we are born. In Women Who Work, Ivanka stumbles into every stereotype that is keeping us so entrenched in these constructs. Throughout the text, when she’s not appropriating quotes from civil rights leaders to get her point across she emphasizes the concept that even though we are women we totally can do it too. We can be moms! gasp! and also wear waspy work-wear! She is not freeing us from any constraints put on the woman juggling a work/life balance, or trying to figure out what that might look like if they tried, but endorses the need to match their lipstick to their purse, for 50 fucking chapters.
She further embarasses us as women with our own ideas by — as if subconsciously — attributing all of her career insight to either her husband or father (except of course where she says she was raised by a mom who wore four inch heels to work every day), yet again building up a wall (too soon?) between genders. She could have very well titled this book Quotes from Pinterest & Other Things I Learned from Misogynists.
“My husband, Jared is by far one of the most positive, proactive, and solution-oriented people I’ve ever met.” and “It was my husband who…”, and then “Jared…loves…” Did you guys know Jared also loves gardening, it’s their new thing. Is anyone else now legitimately curious what Jared’s business book might look like?
Perhaps the most alienating dynamic in this book is when Ms. Trump tries to drive home how important it is for women to find work that fulfills their passions. This is twisted on so many levels as she attempts to position herself as a spokeswoman for the female population America over, regardless of diversities. For someone who is wizardly skilled in public relations strategy it’s embarrassing how lacking she is in ties to the reality of most working moms in The United States. While she spouts droplets of wisdom about how to incorporate your children into your work day, and how having a fervor for your career will lead to success, she seems sincerely oblivious that many mothers can’t even afford child care, let alone have the luxury of nannies, drivers, and “teams” to facilitate and ease her working mom lifestyle. Case in point, “some of my best photos of the kids were taken by my nanny during the day (I’m sure in ten years I’ll convince myself I took them!).” While I don’t doubt that she too feels the motherly guilt of leaving her children each morning (although she may have a strong marketing strategy to prove otherwise, she is only human after all), these nuances are overly simplified because of the privileges she has. It’s unfair for Ms. Trump to hold herself up as the mirror for American women to look into and compare themselves, when she has every resource in the world to thrive, and look good doing it.
As if a study plucked straight from The Second Sex in which De Beauvoir focuses on how the bourgeois woman’s life embodies three elements: wife, mother, and entertainer (remember, this book was written shy of seven decades ago) — Ivanka Trump’s book closes emphasizing on women fulfilling these very same tasks in order to feel success. This warped marketing strategy is transparent, and in conclusion only underlines the fact that Ivanka’s “feminism” is for no other purpose than to inflate the Trump name in the eyes of America.