Sunday, November 13, 2016

So I Own This Ivanka Trump Shirt...

So I own this Ivanka Trump shirt. I bought it back when I thought I might still interview for a "big girl" job someday. It was before all of this happened...before Donald Trump was anything but a celebrity who was running a humorous political campaign. It's one of the nicer shirts I own, one of the few things I didn't buy at a thrift shop. I admit that wearing a more expensive garment gives me a boost of confidence. It wasn't really expensive, though. I got it on sale when I worked for Boston Store, with an additional employee discount. I think I paid about $10 for it. This year I donated $30 to Bernie Sanders' campaign and donated to several environmental organizations. So in the end, I spent more money on the things I believe in than I did on vanity.

The question is what to do with this shirt now? I thought about burning it. The symbolic gesture would certainly make me feel better during this mourning period. I also thought about continuing to wear it. After all, Ivanka isn't her father. But then the staggering results of the election came in, and the horrifying verdict shocked me to my very core: women helped to elect Donald Trump. Women, who are supposed to be allies to each other, instead voted against their own best interests and voted for a man who has openly admitted to sexual assault and disrespect to women.


I can admit I've been on the more conservative side of feminism during my adult life. I lived in a bubble in college and I couldn't really see that the fight was still on. Now that I am out in the real world, though, I can't ignore the reality anymore. I worked with a misogynistic boss who belittled me and made me feel less than human on a daily basis. I have felt how much harder I have to work compared to men who never motivate themselves because they know that everything is probably going to work out for them. And then I watched this horrible election cycle and realized how the media demonized Hillary for the same things a man could easily get away with. Instead of getting better, the war against women has gotten a lot worse in the last few years. I listened to a female voter's justification for voting Trump that made me feel like things will never improve: She didn't see Trump as a misogynist because she saw that he had raised a successful daughter. She was too blind to see that her own justification is sexist, that perhaps Ivanka became successful on her own without the help of her father, and that a woman, believe it or not, can become successful without the help of a man.

I decided to research Ivanka as a person and not think about her in relation to her father. She is indeed successful. She graduated from a good college and started her own fashion line. She is confident and carries herself well. Her fashion line has come under scrutiny for using rabbit fur, and is largely made outside the U.S. She seems intelligent and well-spoken, and appears to be a good mother of three children. As far as I know she does not engage in hate speech like her father. Based on this information, can I condemn her? As an environmentalist, I wish her fashion line was kinder to the environment. But the other information gives me no real reason to denounce her as a person.

I want to believe that the female voters who voted for Trump did this same thing with Hillary. I hope they looked deeply at her policies and truly did not agree with them. I hope they didn't listen to Trump saying she is a criminal and needs to go to prison. I hope it isn't true that there is a terrifying, ingrained sexism in women that caused them to vote against their own best interests. But I feel pretty skeptical. I really want to support women. But now I see that women have turned on each other, particularly white women who not only voted for a man that hates them, but hates their black and brown equivalent even more.

So what do I do with the shirt? If I burn it, I'm directly protesting the Trump family and everything they stand for. If I keep it, I'm supporting Ivanka, one of my fellow women, and therefore protesting the women who didn't support Hillary in this election. It's a catch 22 and I don't know where to go.

I think I will donate the shirt. Goodwill will sell it for about six bucks. I hope this small act of donation, an action which the Trump family is largely incapable of, is symbolic enough to help someone that Donald Trump promised to protect, a person who will likely end up worse off than they were before he got elected. In addition, I will do what I resolved to do the moment Trump won: I will work hard to make sure that no woman has the option to vote against herself ever again.

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