This morning, I was walking my dog when I found a Polaroid on the edge on my lawn. A few months ago, my neighbor passed away. She was amazing, super fiery and funny; we were actually quite close. We would go to Home Depot together and pick out plants for me to plant in pots around her house, and I would help her if she needed it. She was in her mid-eighties, and a total badass, and I was sadly at school in Boston when she passed away. But in the following months, and the last few weeks especially, her children have been cleaning out her house.
This morning, the last remaining furniture and garbage (which had been piled at the end of her driveway) was cleared away, leaving behind a few scraps and this grimy, grubby Polaroid, picture-down on my lawn. I flipped it around and it was a picture, taken from the stoop of my neighbor’s house of our street—A silver-blue Volkswagen Beetle parked on the curb, framed by lush green leaves. I took it inside, cleaned the grime off the back and the edges, and really looked at it. There’s no date on the Polaroid, but judging from the make of the car, and the amount of time my neighbor lived in her house, I would guess it was taken in the ‘60s or ‘70s.
News has broken that Ivanka Trump, the First Daughter with security clearance and an untitled job in the West Wing, met secretly with Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, in what Richards described as an “explainer” meeting. According to Politico, the First Daughter has been doing several of these meetings, having “quietly met with other leaders of the progressive women’s movement.”
In a recent interview with Gayle King, Ms. Trump has this to say about her critics: “If being complicit is wanting to, is wanting to be a force of good and to make a positive impact, then I’m complicit…I don’t know that the critics who may say that of me, if they found themselves in this very unique and unprecedented situation that I am now in, would do any differently than I am doing.”
The “complicit” of it all refers to the Saturday Night Live sketch were Scarlett Johansson played Ivanka in a perfume ad (“Complicit: The fragrance for the woman who could stop all of this—but won’t.”).
Ivanka assured Gayle and the public at large that just because she hasn’t been vocal doesn’t mean she hasn’t been active. “I would say not to conflate lack of public denouncement with silence,” she told King. “I think there are multiple ways to have your voice heard.” And how has Ivanka made her voice heard?
If Ivanka Trump is truly a “moderate” influence on her father, then either she’s doing a horrible job of it, or he’s way more batshit than we think and this is him “moderated.”
Either way, make no mistake—Ivanka is complicit. Because to not be complicit would be to actively speak out for what she believes in. “Complicit” looks like secret meetings with Planned Parenthood or quietly reaching out to women’s movements—when you arguably have one of the biggest platforms in America right now, and unprecedented access to the president and the private sector.
I find issue with organizations like The Hillwho tweet out headlines like “Ivanka Trump: “I don’t know what it means to be complicit”.” Yes, that is a quote, but it’s taken out of context. And in addition to being misrepresentative and clickbait-y, it paints Ivanka Trump as an idiot. And the dangerous part—she’s not an idiot. She’s deadly smart. That’s why she’s dangerous: because she’s incredibly smart and savvy and still won’t do anything. In the same way that Kellyanne Conway is portrayed as ditzy—it’s a mistake to underestimate them. Kellyanne Conway is incredibly smart—she was able to see something in Middle America that everyone else, including (and especially) the Clinton campaign, did not.
Don’t let her off the hook because in comparison to everyone else in the White House, she’s moderate and progressive. Because she’s pretty and slim and wealthy and white. Because she’s a “working woman.” She’s not your friend, she’s not my friend. She’s not with us.
Yes, Ivanka Trump is complicit because “quietly” and “secretly” meeting with progressive feminists does not seem to be mitigating her father’s harmful rhetoric and policy. Because when you’re the First Daughter (and de facto First Lady) and your husband is a senior adviser to the President, you don’t get to do anything secretly and quietly. Everything you can be doing needs to be loud and outward. Because while you quietly chat with Cecile Richards, who later blasted Trump on her silence, women are having their bodies debated over by cisgender, privileged white men, and trans kids are holding in their pee to avoid physical assault, and your father is protecting the reputations of those accused of sexual harassment.
If this is your moderating force, it’s not going that well.