In responding to the tasteless “Ivanka Vacuuming” art exhibit on display in Washington, D.C., first daughter Ivanka Trump is taking the high road.
Instead of playing victim and focusing on how catty and sexist the spectacle is, Ivanka is calling attention to the demeaning job the 16-year-old model was hired to do—vacuum breadcrumbs off the floor that the exhibit asks strangers to throw.
In an interview with ABC’s Abby Huntsman, Ivanka said: “Well, I think it’s a very sexist representation of a woman, but what bothered me about this image is they hired a 16-year-old girl to stand there and have crumbs thrown at her for two hours a day for a couple of months, and I have a real problem with that. And that’s what infuriated me more than anything.”
"I think it's a very sexist representation of a woman…"@IvankaTrump to @HuntsmanAbby on a controversial art exhibit inviting people to throw crumbs at a model look-a-like of her. https://t.co/7De0ILNSwT pic.twitter.com/7YaBQBrU5c
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 8, 2019
The exhibit, livestreamed for everyone’s viewing pleasure, is a piece of “performance art” where an Ivanka Trump lookalike wearing a pink dress with bows and stiletto shoes vacuums crumbs off a plush, pink carpet. To make the “art” interactive, onlookers are encouraged to take crumbs from a pedestal and throw them at her to vacuum up.
When Ivanka first caught wind of the exhibit, she tweeted, “Women can choose to knock each other down or build each other up. I choose the latter.”
Women can choose to knock each other down or build each other up. I choose the latter. https://t.co/MFri4xKhNI
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) February 5, 2019
In directing her ire towards the use of the 16-year-old model, Ivanka is practicing precisely what she preaches. Rather than criticizing the “art” and the artist herself (which is plenty easy to do), Ivanka is standing up for the teenager who’s getting paid to have crumbs thrown at her. Even though she’s playing a role, the job is still dehumanizing.
Artist Jennifer Rubell, daughter of mega-collectors Mera and Don Rubell, responded to Ivanka’s tweet with an invitation to see the charade in person. Because why wouldn’t Ivanka, who’s a mother, a wife, a business woman, and a White House senior advisor, want to spend her free time viewing “art” intended to bully and make fun of her?
As part of the invitation, Rubell made the bizarre claim that the exhibit is “not knocking anyone down”—as if it’s empowering in some way.
“Ivanka, I would encourage you to see the piece and form your own direct response,” Rubell tweeted. “I would be happy to arrange for you to do it alone with none of the media circus that has formed around it. Not knocking anyone down. Exploring complicated subjects we all care about.”
In an interview with Refinery29, Rubell further attempted to defend herself from the obvious criticism that her work reflects every stereotype feminists claim to stand against. The exhibit, she said, is “open to interpretation.” (As if anyone thinks “Ivanka Vacuuming” was flattering in some way.)
“First of all, people aren’t throwing crumbs at her,” Rubell told Refinery29. “She’s vacuuming them up from the carpet. You’re participating in this act of subjugation, that’s true, but the piece is not ‘Ivanka vacuuming,’ it’s a combination of that and the participating viewer. … It puts the viewer in a very complicated position. And I’m most interested in the complications of the viewer; how they decide to engage with this feminine figure. What does it mean to either throw crumbs, or stand there watching other people throwing crumbs?”
It’s true that viewers are participating in the Ivanka model’s subjugation, which is why I was quick to point out the real exhibit worth going to see is the people throwing the crumbs, not the person picking them up.
But that doesn’t make the exhibit itself, or the job of the 16-year-old model, any less demeaning. And it doesn’t erase the double standard once again demonstrated by the Left.
It’s obvious that “Ivanka Vacuuming” is nothing more than another attempt to slight the president and his supporters. But it’s curious why, despite all the men who surround President Trump, a self-proclaimed feminist would pick on a woman to make her political statement. I guess “Jared Vacuuming,” just didn’t ring.
The good news is, as a senior White House advisor, Ivanka Trump has far more influence over young women than Rubell ever will. And instead of knocking them down, she’s focusing on building up non-employed and working women alike.