The Goddess of white privilege has swept into India. Ivanka Trump, daughter of US President Donald Trump, is visiting Hyderabad for the annual 3-day Global Entrepreneurship Summit hosted by India and the USA. For a country that treats women as carpet underlay, the excitement over Ivanka’s visit is quite a mystery.
I live in a Western country and witness white privilege at close range every day. It is a privilege that transcends sex, gender, race, class and nationality. Despite the challenge to the history of colonialism and its repressive nature, white privilege is an enduring phenomenon.
Ivanka Trump lives the image of being a modern liberated woman with her business empire and books advising women on how to achieve success. In reality, she does not threaten the male status quo and does not come even close to being a liberated woman. In fact, she is more of an Indian daughter than I am.
There is not an ounce of independence about Ivanka Trump.
Consider this. There is not an ounce of independence about Ivanka Trump. She works for her father, her own business empire is based on her father’s name ‘Trump’, she gave up her life in New York to follow her father to Washington, she sits in all her father’s meetings and has never disowned her father’s talk about sexually harassing women. Ivanka Trump is a status quoist.
Ivanka Trump wrote a book, The Trump Card: Playing To Win In Work And Life, in 2009, in which she said:
“Sexual harassment is never acceptable and we must stand against it. At the same time…learn to figure out when a hoot or a holler is indeed a form of harassment and when it’s merely a good-natured tease that you can give back in kind.”
Eve teasing is couched in the same terms. It is all done with humour and fun. It is the woman’s responsibility to work out whether the “hoot or a holler” is “good-natured”. The subtext is that if a woman can’t “figure out”, then it’s her weakness.
When Donald Trump goes abroad, there are protests and demonstrations. Ivanka Trump gathers adoration instead. Ivanka Trump’s status quo and white privilege are being exported to other countries outside the USA as some sort of ‘soft power’ weapon. If anything, her soft power is being exerted to make her father likeable. She is selling a racist man to a nation of people of colour.
Donald Trump is a ‘father feminist’. It is a trait common among many Indian fathers. They demand subordination from their wives and do not believe that women should be given equal rights, but will make exceptions for their daughters.
Ivanka’s status quo and White Privilege are being exported to other countries outside the USA as some sort of ‘soft power’ weapon.
The family name has served her well. Ivanka Trump sells clothes, handbags, shoes, jewellery and books on supposed female empowerment. Make no mistake though, this is capitalism, not feminism.
It will be interesting to see how Indian women treat her.
When she sat on a panel in Germany with Angela Merkel, someone in the audience challenged her about her father’s attitude to women. In Japan, she spoke to a half-empty hall, despite the anticipated rush of women wanting to hear her speak on female empowerment.
News of Ivanka Trump’s visit is being reported around the world. Hyderabad is in the spotlight, but once Ivanka Trump sweeps through and is back on the plane, Indians may be left wondering how their lives have been made better by all this. That is fakery of white privilege. It pretends to exude a power to change things but only ever uses this power to further itself.
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