As by now you’ve surely heard, the world was simply not having it with Ivanka Trump’s seemingly tone-deaf social media gaffe last weekend, in which the first daughter shared a photo of herself and her husband (and White House senior adviser), Jared Kushner, in pricey black tie apparel as many protested President Trump’s executive order that temporarily bars the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
This tweet just about summed it up:
"Let them eat cake!"
— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) January 29, 2017
But during this same time frame, Donald Trump Jr. posted a photo of himself out hunting with his dogs at his property in upstate New York:
And here’s a sampling of what commenters had to say about it: “What a cute dog!” “I really enjoy the down to earth attitude and family friendly posts on your Instagram page … Lovely dogs!!” “Some fine dogs and a fine gun for a fine man.” One commenter noted: “People are protesting in the streets. The very least you can do is listen,” but many of the nearly 900 comments touted the dogs, the guns, and Donald Trump senior’s dedication to the country.
Now, it’s hard to look past Ivanka Trump’s poor timing. In fact, even Ivanka herself reportedly felt “terrible” about the post, which she shared while refugees, immigrants, and green card holders were detained for hours at airports nationwide.
But it does strike us as odd that only she took flak for posting an image of life that exists in a bubble, while her older brother faced no such criticism — and was met mainly with cheers of Instagram praise.
“I think gender plays a tremendous and conspicuous role in this,” Juliet Williams, the chair of the social science interdepartmental program and a professor of gender studies at UCLA, tells Yahoo Style.
“With respect to Trump’s son, I do think that the reason he was given a pass does have to do with ‘bro culture,’ but also has to do with this particular kind of masculinity that the Trump administration represents — this alpha male unaccountable to social standards, an image that appears to be really speaking to men, and possibly women, across the country right now. [Trump’s] sons are kind of the emblem of this unaccountable masculinity that does what it wants when it wants and nobody can tell it otherwise,” says Williams.
Meanwhile, Ivanka could be subject to the unrelenting double standard to which women are held, where their every move and decision is subject to the kind of intense scrutiny that male peers often escape.
Ivanka, as her father’s poised and glamorous heir-apparent, is the one the public expects not just to know better, but to know best. (If you need further evidence of this, look no further than the public art and protest movement #DearIvanka.)
Ivanka Trump does have closer ties to her father’s administration than her other siblings do. Not only did she position herself as her father’s key surrogate throughout his campaign for the presidency, but she then moved her family from New York to D.C. before his inauguration so that both she and her husband could assume positions within the administration.
Ivanka has even been codified as a stand-in first lady while her stepmother, Melania Trump, remains in New York City with her and President Trump’s son, Barron.
And by now it goes without saying that a first lady’s fashion choices are subject to popular interpretation and critique for the messages their wardrobing and positioning emit.
Further underscoring this narrative is the reality that it is Ivanka, and not her brother, who has the carefully curated personal brand that extends beyond her father’s business empire.
Her personal Instagram account is the perfect articulation of the contemporary branded self, a manifestation of someone who realizes their name not only is the signifier to which they privately answer, but a commodity to be traded at high value in the marketplace.
She has an eponymous clothing line. She has a website. She has created a brand around the hashtag #WomenWhoWork. It’s clear that Ivanka is always on the job, which is why her gaffe seems greater.
“Ivanka is going to be held to a double standard in a way that her brother is not,” says Williams.
So it’s easy to understand why Donald Trump Jr. might be given a pass for a social media share that was no less out-of-touch with the current political climate. His photo reinforces the perception of his being removed — from his father’s administration and from world events.
But Ivanka Trump, on the other hand, is deeply embroiled in both.