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The Ivanka Effect: The Business Ramifications Of A Turbulent Presidency

Politics

Ivanka Trump is very relatable and likable, a reassuring contrast from her polarizing father. During her father's presidential campaign, she advocated for making child care more affordable and accessible.


She helped create the child care tax plan that he released in September. The child care deduction that the Trump campaign proposed, back in September, was meant to augment the current child tax credit and dependent-care flexible spending accounts and could be available to families with a stay-at-home parent as well as to those paying for child care.

Photo: Business Insider

The plan that Ivanka wants would allow individuals earning less than $250,000 a year, or married couples earning less than $500,000, to deduct child care expenses from their income taxes, up to the average cost of care in their state, according to the September plan. Lower income families would receive a rebate for their expenses, up to $1,200 per year via the earned-income tax credit.

She's often portrayed herself as the advocator for bread-winning mothers as she harnessed her father's White House campaign and victory to elevate that image. She rallied to close the gender pay gap during her RNC speech: “Single women without children earn 94 cents for each dollar earned by a man, whereas married mothers made only 77 cents," said Ivanka. She added: “Gender is no longer the factor creating the wage discrepancy in this country, motherhood is." She's almost right; the gender is still a factor, but her point is notable.

It was almost enough to buy-in to her motivating speech. Ivanka IS a real-world role model. Had her father been almost any other man in America, her campaigning and stumping for her father would have been a resounding success.

But he isn't any other man, and he constantly reminds the American people every chance that he gets.

Presidential linguistics?

Whenever he encounters a perceived rival or potential threat, he bluntly assesses their appearance: “Can you imagine that, the face of our next president? He said about Carly Fiorina, before adding: “I mean, she's a woman, and I'm not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on, are we serious?" He also declared that model Heidi Klum is “no longer a 10," that Arianna Huffington is “a dog who wrongfully comments on me," that Bette Midler is “extremely unattractive," and that Rosie O'Donnell is “a dog." His misogyny is well-documented and widely known.

But then came the shocking 2005 recording (published by The Washington Post) of his boasting that he could “grab women by the p***y," because “when you're a star they let you do it." When his wife, Melania, was questioned about it, she seemed genuinely hurt: “The words my husband used are unacceptable and offensive to me," she said in a statement. “This does not represent the man that I know." She continued: “I hope people will accept his apology as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world."

But when did character stop being an important component of leadership?

Even with his unrelenting stream of misogynistic comments, his supporters could conveniently dismiss all of it as locker-room banter. Even Ivanka publicly commented on her father's now infamous comment: “My father's comments were clearly inappropriate and offensive," she said in an interview with Fast Company magazine; and I'm glad that he acknowledged this fact with an immediate apology to my family and the American people."

But that wasn't good enough for many others, including Shannon Coulter, who runs a marketing boutique firm near San Francisco. A male boss had groped her once and Trump's comments reminded her of that pain, saying: “She (Ivanka) puts women's empowerment at the center of her brand, and is still campaigning for someone who is an alleged serial sex assaulter." Coulter birthed the hashtag #ivankant and shared her thoughts with the Internet, sparking a trend that had reached more than two million Twitter accounts: #BoycottIvanka.

The popular hashtag #GrabYourWallet urges American consumers to boycott stores and websites that carry Trump products. The movement has persuaded several companies to drop their Trump products, namely items in Ivanka Trump's fashion line.

Clarifying words...

But his own words allege sexual assault, of course he dismissed it as locker-room banter, but that revelation became ground zero for #ivankant #fashionnotfascism #BoycottIvanka and #GrabYourWallet, and with it the birth of a powerful movement. His unorthodox leadership style fueled mass protests not just around the country, but also in cities around the world.

A talented writer who writes for Cosmopolitan, Michelle Ruiz, wrote a riveting piece about why women are boycotting Ivanka Trump, back in October, 2016.

Ruiz talks about one woman's personal account, a female college student that she interviewed, a former self-described “Maxxinista," who can longer shop there because they carry the Trump clothing line. It didn't even matter that Ivanka's name was the only Trump name on the label. Read the Ruiz article but be warned of certain trigger words and expect to be moved by the female college student's personal account of how she suffered traumatic flashbacks to the physical and sexual abuse of her past.

In short, the student said: “My first thought was, grab them by the p***y, we can do anything we want, we don't even ask." She went on to say that “This is what Trump means to me." And she's not alone.

Photo: Mark Wilson

Another woman who, wishes to remain anonymous, identifies as a proud Republican, and lives in New York City. She said that, she too, can no longer purchase Trump's blouses: “I just can't do it; I can't bring myself to buy it." She added that she doesn't dislike Ivanka at all: “I know that she can't control her Dad; she's in a hard position."

Appearances can deceive...

Ivanka has been remarkably cool and composed given how it's affecting her business prospects: “The beauty of America is that people can do what they like, but I prefer to talk to the millions-tens of millions-of American women who are inspired by the brand and the message I've created," she revealed in an interview with Good Morning America.

When Ivanka gave the introduction speech during the Republican National Convention, she said that her father had told her, when she was growing up, that there's nothing that you can't accomplish when you marry vision and passion with an enduring work ethic." One cannot help but imagine just how much she must work now to undo the damage created by her father's seemingly never-ending string of verbal mishaps.

Significant fallout...

Since the election, 3,600 Trump-branded products have been dropped from online stores. That represents a 61 percent drop in products since late November, 2016, according to Shannon Coulter who published the data. Stores such as Nordstrom's, Neiman Marcus, Belk, Kmart, Sear's, Burlington Coat Factory, Marshall's, Saks Fifth Avenue, and others have stopped selling Ivanka Trump's products online.

Getting beyond something of this magnitude will require a significant amount of endurance and strength to overcome. Publicly she appears composed and strong. But when alone one must wonder how heavy a toll this must be for her to endure. Then again, countless scores of people suffer quietly alone, everyday of their lives, struggling with the painful memories of sexual abuse.

Culture

A Modern Day Witch Hunt: How Caster Semenya's Gender Became A Hot Topic In The Media

Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.


Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.

That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.

Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.

Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.

Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.

With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.

The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.

Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.

As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.

Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.