Why Opposing Ivanka Trump's White House Role Is Not Anti-Feminist
It's become a common refrain from the Right: Liberal who don't like Ivanka Trump and how much power she seems to wield in the administration have shown that they hate women. However, disapproving of Ivanka Trump's role in the White House is in no way anti-feminist. Feminism means supporting equal access to opportunities, based on merits rather than anything else. Ivanka Trump may be a capable businesswoman, but in no way has her experience earned her a White House office. She appears to have gotten that simply because she's the daughter of a president who seems to only trust his offspring — and that's nepotism, plain and simple. Update: On Wednesday, the White House announced that Ivanka would be taking on an official role in the administration.
Conservative writer Denise McAllister wrote a post on The Federalist blasting liberal feminists for their boycotts of Trump's merchandise, using a confused argument that liberal women who criticize Trump are hypocritical because... she's a successful woman? Or something? The article betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of what feminism stands for and how Trump has worked against it for as long as she's supported her father.
McAllister's ending point, however, really drives home exactly why Trump's "unofficial" White House appointment is so problematic. "Feminism is supposed to be about respecting a woman’s choices, seeing her independent of a man, and celebrating her on her own merit," McAllister writes. "Ivanka deserves that. We all do."
The problem with Ivanka Trump's White House job isn't that she's a woman in an important position (no matter how unofficial her father claims that it is). The problem is that, in McAllister's own words, it does not "[celebrate] her on her own merit," nor does it show her as "independent of a man." She didn't get a job that allows her to next to Angela Merkel in a meeting because she's studied foreign affairs or worked her way up through the ranks.
Instead, she studied business and has achieved all of her success in that realm. Her astounding recent career progression could serve as inspiration for those who haven't gotten a graduate degree, but her bachelor's in business is a slap in the face for the women who have put in the extraordinary effort to get advanced degrees in fields like politics and international relations. There are probably thousands of women who dream of working in the White House and who have worked hard towards achieving that — and Ivanka Trump is taking one of their spots.
If President Trump were to give his daughter a job based on her actual merits, he might have let her lead his company — but his male offspring got that charge. Perhaps Ivanka wanted to make the jump from business to politics, but that doesn't mean that she deserved to be given this opportunity.
I'd argue that Ivanka Trump simply didn't receive this post based on her own merits. Feminists have all the right in the world to be angry about it, because nepotism is nepotism whether the beneficiary is a man or a woman. And no matter who the beneficiary is, such blatant nepotism at such high levels makes the American government look like a post-Soviet Central Asian dictatorship.