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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Don’t trust the Ivanka with the bob

<ing to be an article about what empowers me as a woman so much as what frustrates me. Sometimes, I look at my fellow white women and I truly can’t comprehend what’s going through their minds. I’ve found myself looking at white women in the Target near Northfield, wondering if they’re one of the 53% who voted for Trump. Wondering if they’re an “Ivanka.” That’s over half, so I bet I’ve encountered at least a few of these women when I’ve left the Carleton bubble and gone into Northfield. The thing is, you can never know. They all seem so nice, so Minnesota nice. So friendly, such model women. Such model citizens. Taking care of their homes, having careers, bringing the kids to soccer, and organizing wine nights with the girls. This behavior is what makes them so dangerous; you never know if there are devil horns hidden in their perfect bobs and complicit thoughts in their brains. This is the power of Ivankas: everyone assumes they have good intentions, and that because they are women, they cannot be dangerous. The election results say otherwise.

I’ve been amused with my fellow white women before, but before the election it was never true disgust. I think it’s hard to feel disgust towards your own group, no matter how disgusting some of their actions are. However, since my time at Carleton, I’ve slowly realized that although white women face sexism, we are able to use it to our advantage. Now, I’m not saying sexism against white women isn’t wrong; it’s just that their whiteness allows them to hurt other women, and even groups of men, who face discrimination. It’s the classic case of putting down other disadvantaged groups to help your own. How white women do it is by using the sexist belief that they cannot be evil and are not as naturally capable of violence as men. How many times have you heard statistics about the percent of male versus female murderers and mass shooters? For the record, women account for only 10% of murders and 2% of mass shooters according to Bustle. These very real statistics have been used to make women seem more passive and less complicated than men, but they have also been co-opted by white women. So has the related stereotype that women’s maternal instincts make them more empathetic than men. Imagining white women as masters of manipulation and gaining power just doesn’t fit this sexist narrative, especially coupled with the stereotype that women are also not as intelligent. However, seeing white women as incapable of being bad gives them a lot of power. Paternalizing them and forgetting their autonomy makes them into children. I’ve even been guilty of this. My amusement towards my fellow white women was the amusement I feel towards children when they’re being bad; it’s not their fault, they just can’t help themselves. They don’t know any better, and with all the unfair societal restrictions placed on them, shouldn’t they at least be allowed to have some fun? If they do know better, which the Ivankas of the world certainly do, they say not to criticize them. This is because, per white feminism, criticizing other women hurts the sisterhood. However, many who use this argument mean the sisterhood of white women, where putting down women from different groups is ok. Forget the Beckys, we have a new model of power to follow; Ivanka.

Ivankas are more respectable than Beckys. They aren’t the girls you see getting drunk in Mexico with frat bros while culturally appropriating sombreros. Ivankas actually know what the term “cultural appropriation” means, and understand that being overtly racist won’t gain them power. Instead, they use their carefully constructed country club manners to craft themselves as an advocate for women’s rights. While they never use the word “feminist” or directly advocate for feminist goals, they instead follow Ivanka’s example. Like Ivanka, they understand that if you act like a good person, your lack of actions and refusal to say what you truly believe doesn’t matter. You will be innocent until proven guilty, and in all likelihood your innocence will never be up for debate. Guilty is not a label white women are given. I don’t wish to slap the guilty label on my fellow white women, but this election has made it very difficult not to do so. I hope we’ve learned our lesson, but like all lessons, it will come with consequences. Unlike punishments in kindergarten, they will hurt more than just the white women who voted for Trump. I just hope these consequences aren’t irreversible.

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