What a week for lists of famous people published by magazines! Two. Two whole lists. And to this this time last week we didn’t have any. What a time to be alive.
Less amazing, however, is the inclusion of Ivanka Trump in TIME‘s round-up of 100 Most Influential People. And not because she’s not influential (if we’re to believe White House sources, the reason Trump retaliated against Assad was because the photos of Syrians post-chemical attack made Ivanka upset). It’s because of the way Wendy Murdoch writes about her.
“Ivanka continues to earn my respect and admiration for how she has chosen to use her new visibility,” Murdoch says about her longtime friend. “She has long advocated to empower women and girls and is now leading education initiatives and working to put an end to human trafficking. I am deeply impressed by her courage to leave behind life as she knew it and move her young family to Washington to pursue positive change.”
Now, fine. I will be the first to confirm that Ivanka Trump is most certainly a woman who exists. I will also be the first to say that sure, as a “career woman” I’m sure she’s empowered like-minded “career women” (I have no idea what that phrase even means) similar to her who hail from privilege and have risen to higher levels of privilege based on the privilege they had already — like money and status and powerful familial friends. For people like that, I am sure Ivanka’s trajectory has been nothing short of phenomenal.
For the rest of us, Ivanka Trump embodies the dangers of nepotism and elitism. To me, she represents the favouritism that’s come to define the current American administration, in which unqualified people are given momentous tasks they’re expected to excel at (enter: Jared Kushner in Iraq) because they happen to know the President. To me, Ivanka Trump is a woman who influences her father insomuch as is convenient. She hasn’t influenced him to step down or to publicly apologize for his legacy of sexual harassment or assault or to avoid pushing his racist and xenophobic agenda. And empowerment cannot thrive in the wake the banning of particular nationalities and religion. So to that end, Ivanka stands for the empowerment of rich white women.
And let’s be real for a second: she moved to Washington to further empower herself.
And if that’s what “influential” means to TIME, then sure — by all means, put Ivanka Trump on the list. But the way Wendy Murdoch writes about her isn’t critical nor does it serve as a call-out. It doesn’t tell us how and where and why Ivanka is working to put an end to human trafficking, nor does it acknowledge that in the two months since Donald took office, she’s been beside him in meetings with world leaders despite being appallingly under-qualified. It doesn’t acknowledge that Ivanka is an enabler of her father’s policies simply by remaining silent as he announces them, or that through accepting a position in the White House that she’s contributing to its undoing.
Which means that in this, TIME has failed by falling for her bullshit ethos. Ivanka Trump is certainly influential, but she’s not the type of influential you’re looking for.