You can’t fool a room full of smart women.
Ivanka Trump’s international debut as an official adviser to President Trump is off to a rocky start. The First Daughter and newly-minted assistant to the president attended the W20, a women’s summit in conjunction with the G20 focused on gender equality and the economic empowerment of women, in Berlin today. And though the White House said that Ivanka came at the “direct invitation” of German chancellor Angela Merkel, she received no special treatment while participating in a panel on women and entrepreneurship, fielding tough questions about her father’s attitude toward women and eliciting audible negative reactions from the crowd. Here, the three most cringe-worthy moments.
When Ivanka touted her father as a “tremendous champion” for women and families—and the crowd interrupted her with boos and groans. Seated alongside Merkel, International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde, and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, Ivanka dropped this Easter egg of a quote while praising her father for announcing a paid family leave plan (and a flawed one at that, which made no provisions for working fathers): “He’s been a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive in the new reality of”—here, the women of the W20 were not having it, as boos and groans rippled through the crowd, according to NBC News video from the event. Lesson learned for future trips abroad: Don’t waltz into a room full of smart women and tell them a guy caught on tape bragging about grabbing women by the genitals is a regular feminist hero.
When Ivanka was pressed on her father’s checkered track record on women—and in turn blamed the media. The panel moderator refused to let the boos go unnoticed. “You hear the reaction from the audience, so I need you to address one more point: Some attitudes towards women your father has publicly displayed . . . might leave one questioning” whether he’s an advocate for women, she said. “Are things changing?” Here, Ivanka fell back on her father’s tried-and-true method of handling real, valid concerns about his record on women (the aforementioned pussy grabbing, a flurry of sexual assault suits, to name a few): Blame the media.
“I’ve certainly heard the criticism from the media and that’s been perpetuated,” Ivanka said. “I know from personal experience, and I think the thousands of women who have worked with and for my father for decades when he was in the private sector are a testament to his belief and solid conviction in the potential of women and their ability to do the job as well as any man.”
Again, Ivanka’s personal party line—“my dad’s always been super-great to me!”—may not be the most emblematic.
When Ivanka said her goal for her position in the Trump administration is to effect “incremental, positive change.” Just the stirring, inspirational rallying cry every women’s summit attendee comes for: incremental change! Based on her father’s lack of policies for women and families—and, in fact, the passage of policies that put women at risk (like reinstating the global gag rule and rolling back President Obama’s fair pay order)—Ivanka’s influence so far has been rather incremental indeed.
This story originally appeared on Vogue.
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