Ivanka Trump’s latest book, Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success, was released today. It’s already been tagged a #1 New Release in Amazon’s “job hunting & career advice” section.
By all non-sycophantic accounts, the first daughter’s latest literary offering is little more than a repackaging of the same brand of bootstraps feminism that wealthy white women have long, and with some degree of success, marketed to working class women in need of a leg up. Work harder, straighten your dress, look your boss in the eye, and ask for the things you want, the wisdom goes, and you too might someday embody Ivanka’s brand of cool, collected power.
But the context absent from the book is Ivanka’s almost reactionary thinking around maternity leave—just one of the issues examined in a lengthy, damning new piece about Ivanka in the New York Times.
Though she has (sort of) championed the issue in recent years, Ivanka reportedly had to be pushed into offering it at her own company.
From the Times (emphasis mine):
Marissa Kraxberger, a former executive who was pregnant when Ms. Trump offered her a job in the summer of 2013, recalled asking her future boss about paid leave. She described Ms. Trump as saying, “Well, we don’t have maternity leave policy here; I went back to work one week after having my child, so that’s just not something I’m used to.”
Ms. Kraxberger said that she and others pushed Ms. Trump to start offering a paid maternity leave policy. Ms. Klem said that the business was new when the issue arose, and that after consulting employees, the company put in place a policy for two-month paid family leave, as well as flexible working hours, in the summer of 2014.
Those close to Trump told the Times that, while her personal political beliefs are socially liberal, she doesn’t have strongly held views, and uses words like “business plan” rather than partisan rhetoric even in her official White House capacity.
That sort of fuzzily apolitical approach is essential to the selling of her brand. You, like Ivanka, can Have It All, the thinking goes—the family, the career, the Instagram-ready life, as long as you focus on broad-brush attagirl cliches (the Times also flatly says that Ivanka’s “interest in gender issues grew out of a ‘Women Who Work’ hashtag and marketing campaign she devised a few years ago to help sell $99 pumps and $150 dresses”) and don’t think too much about actual politics. If you’re Ivanka, that means not looking that closely into the real-world ickiness of the career prospects for, say, an undocumented mother with no criminal record that her father deported to Mexico.
It’s easy to come around to social welfare policies once you’ve seen how the issue impacts your own life. But so far, and despite significant coverage about how the eldest Trump remains one of the president’s closest and most trusted advisers, little that Ivanka claims to lobby him on in private has materialized in his public policy. Is it too much to expect Ivanka to publicly defy her father? Probably. But we certainly don’t have to swallow her nonsense whole.