A lot of people weren’t happy when President Donald Trump had his daughter Ivanka sit in for him during a G20 Summit meeting, but MSNBC contributor Joan Walsh went a little further than in her criticism, faulting the first daughter, who’s also a special adviser to the president, for wearing a “girly” dress while doing so. “I don’t mean to sound sexist — it can be dangerous to comment on what women wear — but the fact that she sat in for her father in a dress that was so incredibly ornamental was such a contradiction in terms,” Walsh said. “And I think that what we see is that in patriarchal, authoritarian societies, daughters have great value — they are property. And the message that she is sending about her own value, about her place in the White House, and about the place of women in this administration, I think, are really frightening.”
Sensing that controversy was brewing, host Thomas Roberts asked if she wasn’t opening herself up to a backlash with those comments, which many would see as a not particularly feminist position. Walsh persisted. “That’s not a dress that’s made for work. That’s not a dress that’s made to go out in the world and make a difference. That is a dress that is designed to show off your girlyness, and, you know, God bless her, show it off, but don’t then tell us that you’re crusading for an equal place for women at the table because you’re not.”
In a column for The Independent this week, Grace Dent pointed out the difficulty — or the danger, as Walsh alluded to — in being a feminist and vocally criticizing Ivanka Trump, who fancies herself a feminist. Dent wondered if criticizing the first daughter makes one a “bad feminist.” She wrote, “The greatest problem with criticizing Ivanka is that she positions herself as a sharp-elbowed feminist with her own girl power-based entrepreneurial website, and the grit to sit on a W20 women’s empowerment summit panel with Christine Lagarde. Jeer and scowl at her if you like, but Ivanka Trump and her fans will not take this lying down.”
Read the full story and see video of Walsh’s remarks at Mediaite.