Ivanka Trump interjects during political chat at G20 summit
With world leaders including Germany’s Angela Merkel, Britain’s Theresa May and New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, there is an increasing number of women in the highest offices of power. However, with a fractious, aggressive and unpredictable political landscape, one could argue that we need women in politics now more than ever. Cue: Ivanka Trump.
Ivanka is a White House advisor while her husband, real estate mogul Jared Kushner, is a senior advisor. Both report to Ivanka’s father - President Donald Trump. However, even in the Trump administration, Ivanka is notably inexperienced. This was evidenced by a video taken from the recent G20 summit.
Ivanka attended the summit, which took place in Japan’s Osaka, along with her father. In the video, France’s President Macron mentions "social justice" before Ivanka interrupts him. Britain’s Theresa May states, "as soon as you talk about the economic aspect of it though, a lot of people start listening who wouldn't otherwise listen".
The scene unfolding at a G20 women’s empowerment event, Ivanka adds, "and it's the same with the defence side - in terms of the whole ecosystem, it's been very male-dominated". Those present look awkward, the flow of the conversation having been unsettled by the interjections. Curiously, the video was originally posted by the French Presidential palace, suggesting that the French want to highlight this uncomfortable moment.
The video was originally posted to Twitter by BBC journalist Parham Ghobadi. “Ivanka Trump appears to be trying to get involved in a talk among Macron, May, Trudeau and Lagarde (IMF head),” he stated in the caption. British Politician David Lammy MP then posted the video along with a caption asking why Phoebe from Friends (one of the show’s less intelligent characters) was at the G20 summit.
The summit is - according to her detractors and those making “bring your daughter to work day” quips - no place for Ivanka Trump. First established in 2008, the summit brings together leaders from 20 nations to discuss the most pressing global issues as well as forge and reinforce relationships between world powers.The hashtag #UnwantedIvanka has appeared across social media, along with images of her edited into famous political scenes from history. While this seems unnecessarily dismissive, fellow female politician Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez argued that Ivanka simply shouldn’t have been there.
“It may be shocking to some,” Ocasio-Cortez stated on Twitter. “But being someone’s daughter actually isn’t a career qualification. It hurts our diplomatic standing when the President phones it in & the world moves on.” She added: “The US needs our President working the G20. Bringing a qualified diplomat couldn’t hurt either.”
Ivanka was originally an unofficial advisor to her father and used a personal email account to perform the job. Now an official Advisor to the President, she accompanied her father to the G20 summit at the weekend and also to North Korea where she, along with her father, reportedly met with Kim-Jong-un.
Ivanka purportedly promotes female empowerment - including in her book entitled Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success. In fact, her personal website, InvankaTrump.com, is a splash page thanking those who purchased it.
Surrounded by a Pinterest-like vision board of shoes, jewellery and interior design, this seems to complement NPR book reviewer Annalisa Quinn’s comments that the book is a “sea of blandities" and that reading it “feels like eating scented cotton balls".
Meanwhile, Ivanka’s father has been openly misogynistic about women. He had made references to women’s “fat, ugly” faces, called one woman a “crazed, crying lowlife” and another a “dog” with the “face of a pig”. Even his comments on Ivanka herself - "she does have a very nice figure ... if [she] weren't my daughter, perhaps I'd be dating her" - are troubling.
Donald Trump has also repeatedly attacked women based on their age and weight as well as judging that his former political adversary Hilary Clinton taking a bathroom break was “disgusting” adding: “No, it’s too disgusting. Don’t say it, it’s disgusting.” However, the points his daughter makes in the G20 video are perfectly valid. So is this merely a case of guilty by association?
Ivanka Trump’s brand of cookie-cutter cutesiness has led to commentators such as the New York Times’ Jill Filipovic refer to her as a “fake feminist”. Her gender-normative approach is just one reason people find her contribution to this discussion insidious.
However, as a White House advisor in the Trump administration, Ivanka is someone who chooses to be characterised by her father’s politics. Standing in his shadow, she seems sanitised and subservient. But this, sadly, appears to be the president’s preferred version of a woman.