Is the Ivanka Trump brand boycott anti-feminist?
Critics say campaign targets a successful woman for her father's behaviour
After Nordstrom dropped Ivanka Trump's fashion line this month, a Fox News host blasted women boycotting stores that carry the brand.
In an opening rant on her show, Jeanine Pirro called the boycotters "loud, classless women" who were unfairly picking on a fellow female simply because they dislike her dad, U.S. President Donald Trump.
The TV host also suggested that by targeting the independent and successful Ivanka Trump, the boycotters were actually hurting the women's movement.
"Try as you might, you won't defeat this woman, and you will not set us back," she said.
Pirro joins many other critics who claim that because the Trump brand boycott also targets Ivanka Trump's products, it's a slap in the face for feminism.
"The claws out for Ivanka Trump show liberal love for women is a sham," declared a headline this week in the conservative online magazine The Federalist.
But many female boycotters believe Ivanka Trump is deserving of the boycott because she stands by her father and his divisive politics.
"[Trump] admitted to essentially harming women and she still went out and advocated for him during the election," says Amanda St. Jean, referring to an infamous video that surfaced in October. It showed Trump boasting about groping women.
St. Jean, who lives in Guelph, Ont., is boycotting the Hudson's Bay department store for carrying Ivanka Trump's acccessories and clothing.
She opposes many of Donald Trump's policies, including his recent decision to end federal rules allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice.
St. Jean sees Ivanka Trump as complicit in her father's controversial policies. "She absolutely serves a role in that government," she says.
'Grab Your Wallet'
In October, Shannon Coulter in San Francisco started a grassroots campaign called Grab Your Wallet. It called for a boycott of retailers carrying Trump merchandise.
Since then, several retailers have dropped at least some of Ivanka Trump's products. They include department store giants Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Burlington Coat Factory.
Nordstrom's action ignited a firestorm by critics who claimed it's unfair to target the president's daughter.
"Despite her numerous accomplishments, the left has waged war on the first daughter," stated an opinion piece in the U.S. political news publication The Hill.
The article concluded that Ivanka Trump was being unjustly punished simply because "the left" hates her father.
"No feminist would or should judge another woman's accomplishments through the prism of their fathers or husbands," it said.
Fox's Pirro agreed. In her TV rant, she took specific aim at Grab Your Wallet's founder, Coulter. She said that because Coulter doesn't like Trump, "she decided to take it out on his daughter."
More than just a daughter
Coulter agrees that she started her campaign because of Donald Trump — in particular, the sexually aggressive comments he made in the infamous video.
"Something just really changed for me with the Trump tapes," she says. "It's just a basic human decency thing."
But Coulter has no qualms about targeting Ivanka Trump. She says the first daughter has not only stood by her father, but has even become part of his team. This despite controversial policies like his executive order on immigration and refugees.
"If you align yourself with highly divisive figures, It's going to hurt your brand. It's not rocket science," says Coulter, who runs a boutique marketing agency.
Ivanka Trump did denounce her father's lewd comments, saying they were "clearly inappropriate and offensive."
But otherwise she has continued to stand by him.
Race and gender expert Andrea Davis says because Ivanka Trump has done nothing to set herself apart from her father, she will continue to be judged based on his actions.
"She hasn't given us any other way of identifying her outside of him," says the York University professor.
"There's no way really in which she has challenged, or even just articulated a set of political ideas, feelings, thinking about the world that we can see is distinct from him."
Advancing or suppressing women?
Critics have also chastised the female boycotters for targeting a woman who stands for female empowerment.
Pirro praised Ivanka Trump as a successful entrepreneur who has championed women's rights.
She said the feminists who "purport to advance strong, independent women are the very ones rallying to suppress another who epitomizes every quality they claim to champion."
But Davis says women aren't obligated to spare Ivanka Trump's line from the boycott simply because she's female.
For many women, Ivanka Trump doesn't represent their interests or beliefs, says Davis. "So it's quite a stretch to then ask that they side with her and take a position simply based on gender when there's so many other things at stake."
As Toronto writer Rachel Giese recently wrote in a column for Chatelaine magazine, increasingly, "women aren't buying Ivanka Trump's fake feminism — or her shoes and purses, for that matter."