Let’s All Take a Warm Bath In These Terrible Reviews of Ivanka Trump’s Awful New Book
"Like eating scented cotton balls."
Ivanka Trump had a new book hit shelves this week, and for anyone who likes a terrible hate-read or some schadenfreude, you are in so much luck. The book, titled Women Who Work, was written before last year’s election, as Trump makes excessively clear in the forward. Of course, that hasn’t stopped the ethics violations from rolling in, as official State Department accounts have jumped in to help promote the book. (Once again, that’s a thing that’s very much not allowed.)
Ethics violations aside (that’s a thing we find ourselves saying a lot these days, isn’t it?), the most important thing about the book is this: It’s bad. It’s so bad. Trump starts off the book describing the soul-searching she did as she backpacked in Patagonia, nervous about leaving her cushy fresh-out-of-college job at a real estate firm, that she only took as a sort of gap year experience-builder before exiting for her even cushier, guaranteed career at her family’s empire. You know, relatable stories for working women!
But Trump’s idea of working women is basically just women like herself: elite, sleek, women born into wealth and privilege, with connections, support systems, and endless financial resources. In talking about balancing work and family, she mentions those who make that possible–her two nannies–exactly twice.
She describes the kind of woman she sees as “multidimensional,” personified first and foremost by her mother, whom she recalls walking the halls of her business in four-inch heels and full makeup. Her mother was “unapologetically feminine in a male industry.” Ivanka really doesn’t seem to understand that this isn’t breaking the mold of anything. That her own overt femininity, like that of her mother and women like Kellyanne Conway serves to reinforce the strict image of perfection necessary to be allowed entry into the existing “man’s world” of business. We can’t “have it all,” we must have it all, or we can have nothing. Elle’s review puts it succinctly: “she’s not so much ‘challenging’ the expectation that mothers or workers be conventionally pretty and well-groomed as she is promoting it, creating an image of Working Mom Barbie enjoying a wholesome day off.”
And above all, Ivanka loves to quote. She calls writing “wordsmithing pieces of content,” a phrase NPR points out serves to blur “the distinctions between writing, editing, and borrowing.” Each chapter is preceded by a full-page, faux-handwritten inspirational quote, flattened out to it’s most meaningless platitudes, to the point where a quote about slavery from Toni Morrison’s Beloved is meant to relate to the burden of answering so many emails. She also tags each quote with the hashtag #ITWiseWords. The IT stands for Ivanka Trump, essentially attempting to claim the words as at least partly her own idea.
— Vivian Kane (@viv_kane) May 5, 2017
All of that is why we should feel no shame in rolling around in the warm enveloping folds of these positively scathing reviews. Here are just some of the top quotes about Ivanka Trump’s work as a content wordsmith.
As vapid as Women Who Work is—and it is really vapid—there is a subtle political current running through it, one that helps explains how the socially liberal Ivanka can work for her misogynist ogre of a father. Beneath the inspirational quotes from Oprah and the Dalai Lama and the you-go-girl cheerleading, the message of Women Who Work is that people get what they deserve.
“A pink-tinted sea of innocuous blandness.”
“[Reads] like a mashup of countless essays and articles written in the past decade aimed at female entrepreneurs.
That isn’t to say all the advice is bad — it’s just that little is new. The book borrows heavily from books like Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, Joanna Barsh and Susie Cranston’s How Remarkable Women Lead, and backlogs of.”
“Trump’s book, written before the election but published Tuesday, is a grab-bag of generic work-life advice for upper-middle-class white women who need to ‘architect’ (a verb that pops up a lot) their lives. But underneath that, and perhaps more remarkable, is Trump’s inability to truly recognize how her own privileged upbringing was key to her success.”
“Reading it feels like eating scented cotton balls.”
“Full of advice so anodyne (‘I believe that we each get one life and it’s up to us to live it to the fullest’), you could almost scramble the sentences and come out with something just as coherent.
Often, the melange of quotes and how-to lists give the book more the aesthetic of a Pinterest board than a career guide.
“It’s a strawberry milkshake of inspirational quotes.”
“The book is not really offensive so much as witlessly derivative”
“It’s perfect for a generation weaned on Pinterest and goop.com — you can easily imagine its many pink-tinted pages appearing on Shoshanna’s manifestation board in Girls.”
“This isn’t the voice of a #WomanWhoWorks; it’s the voice of a #WomanWhoSupervisesOtherWomen. Again, it betrays something real about the way Ivanka Trump sees feminism—or doesn’t see it.”
“When Ivanka published her first book, The Trump Card, she was twenty-eight, and her air of oblivious diligence was a reasonable fit for her position as a hardworking heiress, the favored child of a celebrity tycoon. Now that her father is the President and she has assumed a post in the White House, it feels downright perverse to watch her devote breathless attention to the self-actualization processes at work in the lives of wealthy women while studiously ignoring the political forces that shape even those lives.”
“Women Who Work is mostly composed of artless jargon (‘All women benefit immeasurably by architecting their lives’) and inspirational quotes you might find by Googling ‘inspirational quotes.'”
“Women Who Work should put an end to the idea that Ivanka is particularly self-aware.”
“An incredibly and almost profoundly boring book.”
“With this book, Trump has helped to level at least one playing field: Here is proof that a female CEO can write a business book that is just as bad — just as padded with bromides and widely-known examples and self-promotion and unexamined privilege and jargon — as one written by an overconfident male CEO.”
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