More Sheryl, Less Ivanka

April 28, 2017

So Ivanka Trump was invited by Angela Merkel to attend the W20 Summit in Berlin, where the First Daughter was booed by audience members after describing her father – that pillar of orange-flavored feminist goodness – as “a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive.” Ivanka responded to those boos with protestations that His Royal Highness, the Viscount Ermine of Fatback, had always been nice to HER, which is sort of like saying that the serial killer next door is a tremendous champion of people not being murdered simply on the basis that he never locked me in a basement and then ate me for dinner.

But Ivanka is a Trump through and through, and she understands the importance of family loyalty, even as it pertains to the guy who famously said he’d like to date her, has agreed that it’s okay for others to refer to her as a “piece of a**,” and once stated publicly that their greatest commonality was their mutual enjoyment of sex. All of which is really creepy, since he’s, like, her DAD and all.

So I’m not really surprised that Ivanka’s defending Custard McPumpkin Sludge of Horny Hound Mews, even though doing so significantly decreases whatever credibility she may have had in her own right as a designer of made-in-China shoes and – let’s be honest – a line of jewelry that’s sort of tacky.

What IS surprising is that Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel – you know, that lady with the graduate degree in quantum physics? – actually invited Ivanka to participate in the W20 Summit based upon her ostensible accomplishments as a handbag designer (an occupation, it should be noted, that also counts among its member by Jerry Seinfeld’s ex-girlfriend, Shoshanna Lonstein and former White House intern Monica Lewinsky).

It’s not even a little bit depressing that Merkel overlooked women like Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, or Ursual Burns, CEO of Xerox Corp., or Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi, or Irene Rosenfeld, CEO of Kraft….I could go on. Despite the White Male Patriarchy that firmly remains, even in 2017, as the backdrop against which all American business and governmental affairs are conducted, it appears that there are, in fact, at least a FEW women who might have been BETTER choices than Princess Lightweight von TrustFund to represent our country at an international conference where women leaders explored issues such as gender gaps in the labor force, female entrepreneurship, and greater inclusion of women in STEM occupations. Yeah, I’m sure Sheryl Sandberg, who’s just written a terrific book on grieving and previously exhorted women to “Lean In” and demand their seat – and voice – at the professional table, had nothing meaningful to say on any of those topics.

But Angela Merkel invited Ivanka instead.

Ivanka Trump is an easy target, to be sure: How convenient her privilege, family money, and name recognition as the sole explanation for the unexpected level of success she has achieved at a relatively tender age (and that was before Trump supporters starting buying her merch as a show of solidarity with the man who financed those endeavors), especially given the lack of any evidence of formidible intelligence, talent, or sweat.

It’s also fun to hate Ivanka for always looking perfect, even 30 seconds after giving birth. The majority of us women who clean our own toilets and wipe our kid’s butts and noses often feel – justifiably, I think – some level of resentment that this woman, who can jet off to an international women’s summit on another continent without having to worry about who’s going to get the kids to school or make sure they have clean underpants, is always so well-coiffed, her makeup just so, and dressed so as to leave no question that there’s not an ounce of fat or a single stretch mark on her buff physique, notwithstanding three pregnancies. Yeah, she’s easy to hate, even though she’s sort of likeable, especially in comparison to (1) her father; (2) her brothers (the older ones, anyway); and (3) everyone else in the Trump Administration.

I would have expected more from Merkel, however, and I’m dismayed that, according to conventional wisdom, Merkel invited Ivanka to the W20 (instead of, say, Virginia Rometti, the CEO of IBM, or Sheri McCoy, former CEO of Johnson & Johnson and current CEO of Avon) because of the potential access such an invitation may later provide her for networking with President Pillsbury Q. Squeezebottom. Which also raises the question, why does Angela Merkel need ANY access to Frothy O’Sandwich Hands? She seems to be doing just fine without the smarmy comments and “I’m not gonna shake your hand and you can’t make me” nonsense of King Toddler McNeedaNap. There’s a possibility that Ivanka was invited so as to bring attention to the work of W20, but if that was the reason, maybe just invite Oprah Winfrey, or Emma Watson, or Beyonce, even? Same amount of publicity, greater intellectual heft, fewer boos.

I’m disappointed in Angela Merkel and unsurprised by Ivanka, but I am at least a little bit encouraged that the women who DID attend W20 called out Princess Fairy Dust and Pink-Iced Cupcakes for shilling for her creepy, disturbing father and trying to pass him off as a champion for women and families, when even bacteria, asparagus ferns, and mold spores know that he is neither.

The bottom line is, we don’t need to pay attention to Ivanka Trump, whether as window dressing at what was supposed to be a gathering of serious women, or as an apologist for the dryer lint that currently sits in the Oval Office. Ivanka Trump, minus her money and looks, has no greater pretense to be at the W20 Summit than any of the rest of us (in fact, she’s probably got less). We need to showcase women who set a standard of excellence, innovation, leadership, and courage, and Ivanka Trump is none of those things – not by a long shot. What she’s good at – trying to make her despicable father appear more palatable and less, well, despicable – isn’t worth entertaining, and none of us should be giving her any further opportunities to spout her dubious claims that the leader of the free world isn’t a misogynistic racist who would rather the poor, sick, and powerless just die already.

Angela Merkel, and all women who are in a position to elevate other deserving women, should keep that in mind the next time they’re writing out the guest list. Next time, ask Sheryl Sandberg what she’s got to say, and I doubt there will be any boos.

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