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Before I dive into my unconditional love for all things Ivanka Trump, let’s get some facts straight. Ivanka lives an extremely privileged life, which she has no reservations about recognizing. She’s a white female. She’s a mother to three children. She’s a wife. She’s an entrepreneur/businesswoman/overall badass (yes, that is a fact).
Her father is Donald Trump, the Republican Presidential nominee. She is a self-described Independent who advocates for equal pay and affordable childcare. She has her own website, where she puts the spotlight on fellow “Women Who Work,” and she’s also working on a book of the same title.
A co-worker (who knows how deep my obsession with Ivanka goes) shared a Vox article with me this morning called “Ivanka Trump’s Advice for Women: Change Yourselves, Not the World.” I was not a fan, and not just because of the unflattering things she said about Ivanka; I was mostly offended as an editor. The first two-thirds of the article, the writer and her various interviewees have nothing but kind words to say about Ivanka. She’s praised as a mother, as a businesswoman, as an overall classy lady (as she should be). And then, out of nowhere, suddenly all of her accomplishments mean nothing because she only represents a certain kind of woman.
By the end, the entire written disaster is wrapped up with a lovely quote by Lena Dunham (“A huge part of being a feminist is giving other woman the freedom to make choices you might not necessarily make yourself.”)—which if the writer had actually taken said mantra to heart, this piece never would have existed.
A little advice to the writer: Choose a side. Stick to it.
Name one person (or company, for that matter) in the media industry who doesn’t have a professional brand. Chelsea Handler’s brand? Being extremely opinionated and borderline offensive on the daily (which I love her for, don’t get it twisted). Oprah’s brand? Being a majestic, all-knowing superhuman. Cosmopolitan’s brand? All things sex (and sex and more sex) and women’s rights. When creating your professional brand, the goal is to narrow in on a specific market. Ivanka Trump’s brand is no exception.
If you don’t like what Cosmopolitan writes about, unsubscribe. If you don’t agree with Chelsea Handler or Oprah, don’t watch their shows. If you don’t like Ivanka, go check out another website. The bottom line: What they’re offering is not for you. And that is perfectly fine.
Here at Earn Spend Live, we have a very specific brand: Young, single, millennial women who are just starting out in the professional world. If you search our website for “how to balance work and being a mother,” you’ll come up empty. Is this because we’re horrible mom-haters? Is this because we don’t support women who choose to have both a career and a family? In case you don’t know where this is going, the answer is no. (In fact, we hate mom shamers; the proof is in our podcast.) We respect every woman’s decision to do whatever the hell she wants with her life and her career; we just have no personal experience on the matter. Do you really want motherhood advice from 24-year-olds who have trouble sometimes just feeding their dogs? Again, (hopefully) the answer is no.
Take a Seat
My point is, there is a place for everyone—even when it comes to feminism. Everyone has something to bring to the table, even if it’s the opposite of what you’re all about. Meleah and I created Earn Spend Live as a way for real, normal, maybe-sometimes-lazy girls to A) be heard, and B) get real, tangible advice on how to be a functioning adult in the professional world. We are both Netflix-binging, rose-day-drinking, extremely Type B individuals; yet our main writer, Terra, is the exact opposite: She’s a planner-loving, to-do list making, Type A to the damn T. We disagree on several issues (*cough* TV is a hobby *cough*), but as her editor, it’s my place to respect her voice and give her a platform to speak; not restrain her because I have different experiences and opinions. Earn Spend Live wouldn’t exist without all of the different personalities that make it up.
In fact, Meleah and I are complete opposites. She’s a proud Democrat. I’m a proud Republican. She’s a dog person. I’m a cat person. She has blue (sometimes purple) hair. I like pink and leopard print. We disagree on just about everything, but the one thing we agree on without a doubt is our passion: Empowering women. Of all ethnicities. Of all backgrounds. Of all financial situations. And that is the foundation on which we built ESL.
“I’m going to talk fast, speak my mind, and complain sometimes. I don’t want to have to cloak my opinions in nonthreatening language to seem nicer. I’m not going to straighten my curly hair to look more professional. I plan to keep being me.” -Kate Shellnutt
Good for you, Glen Coco. More power to you. I love speaking my mind, I’m an expert in complaining, and if I were blessed enough to have curly hair I would never straighten it either. I also really love cussing and I think fart jokes are funny. Like you, I don’t resemble Ivanka that much. But I still respect what she stands for. You should have the freedom to be you, but that shouldn’t (and doesn’t) affect who Ivanka is and what she stands for. There’s a place for both of you at the Feminism Table. In fact, if you and Ivanka were sitting at that table, I’m sure you’d have plenty to talk about—and heaven forbid, you might even find some common ground.
Just because you enjoy websites like The Toast, Bustle, and Jezebel (hey, who doesn’t?), that doesn’t mean Ivanka Trump’s Women Who Work doesn’t have a place; that doesn’t mean it isn’t changing other women’s lives. Just because she isn’t fighting the battles you think should be fought, her battles are no less important. For working mothers, she’s an inspiration. For young professionals like myself, her website is a go-to for daily advice.
We all have a purpose (or several) in life. For some, that might be bringing attention to things like equality, racism, or violence. For Ivanka, it’s how to be a mom and a total boss. For me (today, anyway,) it’s letting women know that no matter what you stand for, if you even impact just one person’s life, it’s important; it’s okay to support a variety of causes without speaking on subjects you know nothing about and therefore contributing nothing to (and, of course, defending my girl Ivanka).