It's a sad question to have to ask, but in Trump's America, it's a fitting one: Who is the biggest threat in the White House? Is it President Trump, the man in charge? Or is it his daughter, the presidential adviser propping him up with her facade of feminism? In other words, is Ivanka Trump a bigger threat to women than her father?
Unpredictable though he may be, Donald Trump is the devil you know, particularly when it comes to his stance on women and women's issues. This is the man who was accused of sexually harassing dozens of women (allegations that he flatly denies), who was infamously caught on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women, and who followed his female opponent around on the debate stage like a shark stalking its prey, according to viewers.
His policies since taking office haven't exactly been kind to women, either. Take the health care bills he's been pushing — which basically punish women for being women by making things like pregnancy or heavy periods pre-existing conditions, for example — or conservatives' push to defund Planned Parenthood which he supports, or the global gag order he signed that bans U.S. aid from going to foreign organizations that provide abortion coverage or even counsels women about the option for abortion.
Ivanka hasn't outwardly advocated for any of those policies, though, and she was reportedly very upset when the lewd Acccess Hollywood tape came out. It was Ivanka, apparently, who persuaded her father to apologize for the tape. So what threat could she possibly represent?
The threat that Ivanka poses is actually hidden right in that anecdote about her forcing her father to apologize for his vulgar comments caught on tape. Trump is an offensive man — he's repeatedly insulted women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, members of the media, and countless others — and his presidency poses a danger to women in the U.S. and all over the world. Yet this whole time, his daughter has stood by his side, trying to make a dangerous man seem less dangerous. His transgressions count for less when Ivanka's there to make him apologize for the worst of them. Not only is she a wolf in sheep's clothing, she's spent the last two years actively trying to outfit all of her father's wolves in sheep's clothing.
On the outside, she advocates for various policies that would help women — but then she's reduced to silence in her White House role when her ideas don't end up coming into fruition. She promised that her father would fight for equal pay for women, but then equal pay guarantees are looking less likely than ever during her father's administration. She also supported ending an Obama-era equal pay rule, saying that it "would not yield the intended results" of making pay more equal.
She's pushed for maternity leave, but her proposed plan would leave the more vulnerable women out of the equation and perpetuate antiquated gender roles. That's a moot point, though, because her father hasn't even begun to champion that issue, and Congress has so far ignored it.
Ivanka claims to be an advocate for women and liberal causes — but every time she gets a chance to speak out against a policy introduced or supported by her father's administration, she sinks into the shadows. Take the Paris climate accord that Ivanka reportedly encouraged her father to stay in. When the president announced that he would be withdrawing the U.S. from the agreement, Ivanka was nowhere to be found. A true advocate would be publicly speaking out against the decision — but Ivanka was not that true advocate.
Ivanka has made many promises to women in America about her father's presidency and his character. Many of those promises have been broken, whether through her own actions or not. Her promises, though, make a hostile administration and a combative president more palatable, and that's where the danger comes in.
Ivanka poses a singularly cunning threat to women. Her role in the White House works to conceal the danger that the Trump administration poses. She convinces people that she's there in the White House working for women's rights, thereby gaining female support for an administration that, so far, has done absolutely nothing to support women. She could still change things, maybe — but in the end, her father has all the control, and he hasn't shown himself to be at all swayed by her purported positions. And as long as Ivanka occupies a role in the White House and is presented as the friendly female face of the administration, she will continue to pose a threat to all the women she claims to be fighting for.