On Tuesday, former Texas state senator and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis sat down with Bustle's Emily Shire for an interview, discussing her view of feminism, her organization and newsletter Deeds Not Words, and a number of related topics. That includes a question that's been on plenty of people's lips lately, especially critics of the Trump administration: is Ivanka Trump a feminist, or does her enduring support for President Donald Trump's decidedly anti-feminist policies (to say nothing of his personal values) mean she can't be?
Ivanka gave herself the feminist label, despite criticisms from the left that she is complicit in her father's policies and refuses to actively speak out against them. Even so, Davis is clearly reluctant to criticize the eldest Trump daughter ― who is also an official presidential adviser and an employee of the U.S. government with her own office in the White House ― emphasizing instead her role as a moderating influence on her father.
In short, Davis declines to give a straight answer on whether or not she considers Ivanka to be a feminist, instead saying that she's happy that someone who has the president's ear is at least publicly professing an interest in issues like equal pay, family leave, and reproductive rights.
I don't know Ivanka Trump personally, so it's hard for me to say. I do feel like she is working to moderate her father's positions on issues that are important to women, and I'm appreciative of her efforts to do that. I'm grateful that we have someone who has his ear, who at least talks about feminism in the ways that we can all appreciate and agree on. That talks about the need for equality of pay, and family leave, and reproductive rights, and I hope that she'll continue to have her father's ear, and to moderate his perspectives on those issues, and to do it in the sake of feminists and feminism and our beliefs and the rights that we all should enjoy as we go forward in his presidency.
All in all, it is a pretty generous answer from Davis, one that buys into the "Ivanka as moderator" theory of the Trump administration. Given some of the hard-right policies the president's already put in motion or publicly championed, however, it's unclear to what extent (if any) her views have impact. Also, how urging Planned Parenthood to split into two groups to isolate its abortions services ― a pitch Ivanka reportedly made to Cecile Richards ― is sticking up for reproductive rights is anybody's guess.
If you're curious to learn more about Davis' organization, Deeds Not Words, or to sign up for her weekly newsletter, you can find it all here.