Women Are More Than Just Baby Incubators -- Can Someone Tell Ivanka Trump?

Ivanka Trump

Ivanka Trump is at it again. After stumping for her father's insulting and insufficient attempt at creating a national maternity leave policy, Ivanka has made a new promotional video declaring that being a mother is a woman's "most important job." Excuse me while I time travel back to 1950 to shake some sense into her.

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In the newest ad for her father, Ivanka Trump tries to reach out to working mothers -- a cause she claims she has long been invested in. However, her opening line manages to alienate everyone from child-free and childless women, to all men, to me -- an official, card-carrying MOM.

I'm a working mother. I love being a mom (most of the time). But it isn't what defines me. Being a mother is an important aspect of my life, don't get me wrong, but it doesn't consume all of my identity. I am many different things in addition to being a mother. There is already way too much pressure on mothers to live up to idealized versions of themselves, that we don't need anyone else -- let alone a proxy of someone running for president -- to further cement that way of thinking.

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The notion that women are here for breeding is such an archaic one -- and one that has the potential to hold women back. I still remember after I got married, everyone bombarded me with questions about whether I was pregnant yet. They couldn't wait until I started popping out babies. Very rarely, if at all, did my husband hear the same.

If we frame women as mothers first, everything else second, it can impact a variety of things from hiring practices (regardless of laws, implicit bias remains) to being taken seriously in business settings. This way of thinking can truly hold us back in the workplace, as we get passed over for raises or other opportunities because it's assumed we will place our family and home life above workplace responsibilities.

This is something Ivanka should be intimately familiar with, as her father has publicly said that pregnancy is an "inconvenience" for business owners. (Way to be super family friendly, Donald!)

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This line of thinking -- that the most important thing a woman can be is a mother -- also pits women against each other. I wonder what Ivanka thinks of women who choose not to have children? Or what about the women who may want kids but can't have them for whatever reason? Child-free and childless women are still women, regardless of the fact that they're not mothers. Does that mean they have failed in Ivanka's eyes?

And what about fathers? By focusing on women as the primary caregiver, the ad essentially dismisses fathers. For those in two-parent households, it should be an equal split when it comes to parenting so we're not shouldering the burden all on our own.

Oh, also? Fathers aren't simply babysitters. They should be just as invested in their children's life as their mother is. Just because Ivanka's father showed her a piss-poor way of how a father could act doesn't mean she needs to devalue all the fathers out there who understand they are much more than simply a way to fund having children. Many think I'm "lucky" to have a husband who divides and conquers with me when it comes to our son. I just say it's part of the deal when you decide to become a parent.

While the ad starts off with this awful line, it doesn't stop there. It goes on to explain how Trump's plans will be beneficial to working moms and families when in reality, what he's proposed is quite limiting. Ignore for the moment the fact that Trump's plan only covers six weeks of paid leave, which is simply not enough time. In Trump's America, the only women deserving of paid maternity leave are those who are married.  While that factors in lesbian women (who are legally married!), it leaves out a whole host of women, from divorced ones, to single mothers by choice, to women who live with their partners but aren't legally married for whatever reason. And don't even get me started on where this leaves gay dads.

With his maternity plan, Trump is essentially dictating what the "proper" family setup should be, when in reality the makeup of nuclear families in this country has changed significantly over the years. Plus, her father's awful track record when it comes to women can't be undone in a 30-second spot, no matter how much Ivanka tries to tug at our heartstrings with her adorable kids. No, it won't make us forget about the many times he has debased and insulted women, or the time he called pumping breastmilk "disgusting." A 30-second spot won't allow us to forget the incredibly creepy way he has sexualized his own daughter. There is honestly not enough time for anyone to try to make Trump look good when it comes to women.

Ivanka's new ad does nothing but highlight all the inconsistencies and problematic issues with Trump and his campaign. It reminds me how crappy his proposed leave plan actually is. And it sends a pretty awful message to women. While parenting is certainly an important part of our lives, it does not define us.

 

Image via Image via Bruce Cotler / ZUMA Press / Splash News; design by Anne Meadows

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