In May 2017, Ivanka Trump launched her book, Women Who Work. The idea behind the book was that of making Ivanka come across as a powerful woman, a compassionate person and someone who has had to work hard for everything all her life. What sets off as someone telling women how strong they are just because they go to work, how to manage their personal time and how to read e-mails, ends up showing people just how little she knows about real life issues and about what women normally go through when they have to make their own life choices about career and family.
Writing a Completely Unrelatable Book
Ivanka plays many roles. She is an executive, an entrepreneur and a mom. Right now, she is the person whispering in the year of the most powerful man on Earth. Of course, people will be curious about this person. Above all that, she claims to support and to be the White House’s women’s issues delegate. In this amazing context, the book is thought as a self-help guide for working women who need cues on how to balance family and work-life. It includes inspirational quotes and many of the ideas you would expect to find in such a book, no matter who the author would be: treat yourself from time to time, make time to be with your family, do not apologize for wanting to work etc.
So, as long as we can predict what the book says, why would people be interested in reading it? Because they are curious about the perspective. Because they wanted to see what drives the person who has the biggest influence on the president of America. Because they wanted to find that spark of hope and to discover that women’s rights hero Ivanka was making herself up to be.
And we were right to be curious about it, but it was much beneath expectations. The result was a completely unrelatable book, filled with inspirational quotes that are taken out of context and seemingly useless advice. Not only that, but the First Daughter’s lack of understanding of what working women actually go through and still proceed with writing a book about it, is downright enraging.
What is the book about?
Ivanka Trump talks about going back to work only a few days after having given birth, having the best pictures of her kids taken by her nanny, making time to treat herself to massages and beauty treatments. She advises women CEOs on how to manage their time and how to go through their e-mails.
And this tone-deaf approach to real life would not be so enraging if she did not use inspirational quotes taken from literary masterpieces and using them in an inappropriate manner. The best example in this case would be the “Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another”. These are the words of Toni Morrison from his novel Beloved, a powerful book story about slavery. What Ivanka Trump did in taking this quote out of context and putting is in the context of her being a slave of her time is simply disrespectful.
Furthermore, apart from the generic advice you can get from bumper stickers, Ivanka insists on telling working women that nothing in life is handed to them and that they need to work hard. Like her. And this is annoying, especially considering the fact that she runs her father’s companies, that she has had a privileged upbringing and that she is living a life most women could not achieve not even if they worked 48 hours a day.
Why Is This Book So Upsetting to Women?
Of course, this is not the first example of a privileged person trying to pass down advice on how to become successful while being completely oblivious to the reality. Nor is this the first bad self-book ever written. However, it comes from a person many have seen as a beacon of hope in the Trump administration and the person who is being presented as such by many of the people in Trump’s staff. So, while Ivanka is filling in many of the attributes of her father and said to be the moderating force and the quiet liberal on his team, the book only goes to show those who expected anything from Ivanka that she is not all those things.
Apart from the prim and proper exterior we all know, after all she has had the education and the best upbringing money can buy so it is to be expected, everything else has constantly been covered in generic statements that will have us thinking that Ivanka is doing a lot. But we never really had proof of any of it. And while we cannot say that this book is proof, we can note how little she knows about anything. Far from expecting her to speak out for women, we can now connect the dots and know that she will not.
In the book, she talks about going back to work very soon after delivery. This is a reality for who can afford the very best of medical care and help from an army of nannies. On the other hand, regular American women are pushing for paid maternity leave and proper medical care, two things Ivanka only gives the impression of supporting but does not do anything about.
While everybody is getting over excited about the book, it is mainly because they were hoping there was something else there, rather than the same “Trumpian word jumble” in which every explanation is ever given, generic advice on how to make money and being completely oblivious of the fact that both her, as well as her father, had a completely different start in life.
The proceeds of the book are going to charity. However, in the customary manner of the Trump communication, information about this came via generic messages such as charities working to educate and to empower women.