Why It's OK To Criticize Ivanka Trump But Not Malia Obama
This is Malia Obama:
She's 18 years old, a future Harvard student, and an all-around normal teenager. Oh, and you may have heard of her dad. He was, like, the president for eight years.
And this is Ivanka Trump:
She's 35. She designs clothes. And she also has a president for a dad.
Both of these women pop up in the news quite often, and on the surface, it seems that there's little difference between talking about Malia and talking about Ivanka. After all, they're both children of presidents.
But there is a huge difference between the two, and Obama should be off-limits. Full stop.
Now, you may be saying to yourself right about now: If I scrutinize one, why can't I scrutinize the other? Isn't it unfair to say that Obama is off-limits but Trump is fair game?
And here's why.
Trump campaigned for her father.
From day one of Donald Trump's campaign, Trump was by her father's side. And I figure some may argue something along the lines of, "Of course she's campaigning for him! He's her father!"
But she didn't just stand next to him, looking supportive. She took an active role in his campaign.
She gave interviews, advocated for him as a family-friendly, progressive candidate, and even introduced him at the Republican National Convention, where she famously said,
Politicians talk about wage equality, but my father has made it a practice at his company throughout his entire career. He will fight for equal pay for equal work, and I will fight for this too, right alongside of him.
This is not mere, "vote for my father" rhetoric. This is Ivanka saying she will fight right alongside of him.
Trump is an official White House employee.
While she has been attending official meetings in an unofficial (and, some would argue, troubling) capacity since her father's inauguration, Trump officially became the Assistant to the President in late March.
She is a member of the Trump Administration, not a mere passerby. She needs to be held to the standards of all other White House employees.
So, while some people may say critics of Trump are nitpicking when they question things like whether or not she should wear her clothing line while working, there are different standards for employees in the highest office of the land.
Further, whether truthful or not, she positions herself as someone her father listens to. So when he makes policy decisions that affect Americans negatively, it only makes sense to criticize the person who supposedly has her father's attention.
Obama, on the other hand, just graduated from high school last year.
Trump positions herself as a feminist and a leader.
In her stump speech at the Republican National Convention, Trump talked about how her father taught her to value women. She also discussed maternity leave as a key component of guaranteeing equality and later, in op-eds and interviews, defended her father's maternity leave plan, even to the point of abruptly ending interviews.
She also famously wrote a book, Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success, on being a successful woman. Jia Tolentino of the New Yorker quoted it in a scathing review:
'We must fight for ourselves, for our rights not just as workers but also as women,' Ivanka writes, and, elsewhere, 'Honor yourself by exploring the kind of life you deserve.'
If she's going to lead, she needs to lead.
And leaders must be criticized in order to be better. That is why Prachi Gupta grilling Trump on her father's maternity leave policy for Cosmo is okay. It's why taking her to task for the abysmal work conditions her mostly-women employees face should be a priority. It's why interviewers should push back when she says things like D.C. can be vicious.
Obama, on the other hand, has never given an interview or positioned herself as a leader of any sort. The only interviews on record are the family interviews, where Barack and Michelle were present. Because she's a freakin' kid.
Ivanka is a god damn adult.
Trump is 35-years-old. She was born in 1981, the year Ronald Reagan was inaugurated into office.
While she grew up with her father constantly in the news -- she even found out about her parents' divorce by reading a tabloid -- she had ample opportunity to step back from the spotlight.
But she chooses the spotlight. She chose to be on The Apprentice. She chose to campaign actively for her father. She continues to take television interviews.
Maybe if Obama ever decides to step out into the public eye (please, god, yes), we can talk about this. But for now: Leave Malia alone.