If your Instagram feed is filled with black-and white photos of women, it’s likely you’ve been swept into the world of the “Women Supporting Women” trend. The new Instagram challenge invites women to post monochrome photos of themselves using the hashtag #challengeaccepted and #womensupportingwomen, pledging to support the women in your life, and after posting, nominate other women to join. The trend is mostly full of celebrities including Kristen Bell, Kerry Washington, and Gabrielle Union posting heartfelt messages about womanhood — but a new challenger has entered the arena.
Early Tuesday, Ivanka Trump created her own women supporting women challenge post, and there’s a lot going on in there. “Gratitude for the sisterhood – the women who have held me up and pushed me forward! Each day brings countless opportunities, large and small, to spread light and uplift those around us,” she writes. “Let’s be kind to each other. Let’s choose to love, support and strengthen one another. We are ALL mothers — we each bring something unique and beautiful into this world. Let’s love each other. I challenge all of my followers to lead with love. You create the future as you live. #womensupportingwomen.”
#ChallengeAccepted. Gratitude for the sisterhood – the women who have held me up and pushed me forward! ❤️ Each day brings countless opportunities, large and small, to spread light and uplift those around us. Let’s be kind to each other. Let’s choose to love, support and strengthen one another. We are ALL mothers — we each bring something unique and beautiful into this world. Let’s ❤️each other. I challenge all of my followers to lead with love. You create the future as you live. #womensupportingwomen
A post shared by Ivanka Trump (@ivankatrump) on Jul 28, 2020 at 6:01am PDT
There’s much to unpack, but it’s not totally clear what Trump is trying to say here, or if it’s anything more than empty platitudes that sound uplifting but remain thoughtless. Using the language of “we are ALL mothers,” Trump seems to be trying to establish herself as just like everyone else, when in reality the power and privilege she occupies puts her in a completely different realm than most. In many ways, Ivanka is doing what Ivanka does best to position herself as an everyperson, while using her identity as a mother and a woman to evade responsibility for the ways the Trump administration has hurt women and mothers.
Or perhaps Trump’s point is simple and she’s saying that all women are mothers in their own way regardless of having children — but it stands that not everyone wants to be referred to as a mother, or have their worth tied to reproduction. Many women choose not to be mothers, or can’t be mothers. And not all people who give birth are women in the first place. When you pull all of these strings, Trump’s post makes little sense, and simply establishes her as someone who isn’t thinking about how other people’s circumstances differ from hers.
When the challenge was a call for women to talk about their experiences as women, it feels bizarre to try to turn it into something that isn’t relevant to many — especially because it apparently originated in Turkey to shed light on the domestic violence women often experience, according to the New York Times reporter Tariro Mzezewa. It’s possible Trump’s trying to distance from the Goya ethics investigation, or the upset about her taking credit for fighting violence that Indigenous women experience, or even the inappropriately timed Find Something New campaign. Ultimately, Ivanka Trump has much more power and resources than most people to make material differences for women — but why do that when you can fail to even do a social media challenge correctly?
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