Ivanka Trump has been scorned for attempting to converse with world leaders at the G20 summit in Osaka. And her gender alone doesn’t mean we are obliged to support her participation in political affairs, says Christobel Hastings
By now, you will have watched it ten times. You will have watched in complete horror, but have been unable to tear away from your screen. You will have seen it trending on your social feeds, shared it on your own, and analysed each agonising second with your friends down the pub.
We are of, of course, talking about the torturous and now-viral video of Ivanka Trump attempting to converse with world leaders at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
If, by some miraculous turn of events, you’ve managed to evade the footage of the self-styled First Daughter’s painfully awkward exchange, allow us to give you a recap on what went down at the summit.
In a video released by the French Government, some of the most prominent world leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, British and Canadian Prime Ministers Theresa May and Justin Trudeau, and International Monetary Fund Chairwoman Christine Lagarde can be seen in a circle having a deep conversation. They’re talking social justice. They’re talking the economy. They’re looking like they don’t want to be interrupted.
Enter Ivanka Trump, who attempts to interject with a random comment about the male-dominated defence industry, in what will unquestionably go down as one of the most toe-curling moments in the entire history of the Trump administration. Seriously, Christine Lagarde’s eye-roll eliminates the need for words, which is just as well, because we’ve lost them all.
The internet, quite understandably, lost its collective mind over the clip, with people wondering why on earth Trump was present at the global summit.
It was the reaction of New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who presided in the outrage, who perfectly encapsulated why the footage is so mightily uncomfortable with a pertinent tweet. “It may be shocking to some, but being someone’s daughter actually isn’t a career qualification,” she wrote. “The US needs our President working the G20. Bringing a qualified diplomat couldn’t hurt either.”
Trump’s involvement in major political events isn’t a new occurrence, of course. Donald Trump’s daughter, who serves as a senior adviser in the US administration, attended both the 2017 G20 conference in Hamburg and the 2018 meeting in Buenos Aires, where she was famously met with groans as she attempted to defend her father’s attitudes towards women.
And yet even while we know that Ivanka Trump’s presence in the White House and matters of international diplomacy is completely bizarre, it’s still tough to critique her, because women are supposed to unfailingly support other women, especially those who have climbed to the heights of authority.
Yet, as Ocasio-Cortez expertly pointed out, Trump cannot simply command the respect of the world simply because of her gender. She does not deserve respect because of her birthright. And she cannot reasonably be heralded as a feminist, irrespective of her standing on the political right, when she cannot adequately detail the specifics of her plans to empower women around the world.
The problem with Ivanka Trump, is that she is an unelected child of the president who is conducting serious matters of diplomacy on behalf of the nation. And to women who struggle to achieve parity at work by dint of their knowledge and experience, she is especially problematic, because she has achieved her powerful standing through nepotism.
That doesn’t mean we resort to scorning Ivanka’s appearance. Nor do we mock her history as a socialite. And there’s absolutely zero need to drag her modelling career.
But women can’t be reasonably expected to champion a media personality who has reincarnated into a White House diplomat by her considerable wealth, power and privilege. We want women in politics who are uniquely qualified for the job, and whose achievements are an extension of their desire to improve the state of the world, not cement their business empire. It’s 2019, and we’ve raised the bar.