Critics take down Ivanka Trump's new book: 'Vapid,' lacks 'awareness'
Reviewers have not been kind to Women Who Work
Ivanka Trump’s new book, Women Who Work, hit bookstores this week. It’s her second book, but there is an obvious difference from the first: Between 2009’s The Trump Card and now, Trump’s mogul father has become President of the United States and she herself has an official position in the White House. As a result, Women Who Work received a lot of coverage — and not all of it was particularly kind.
Many critics pointed out that Trump’s advice seemed to be aimed mostly at a rarefied set of elite women rather than for all women in general. Others chided her for overusing “inspirational” quotes, often out of context. Most of all, critics questioned Trump’s offering of vague feminist bromides at a time when her father signs legislation to defund family services like Planned Parenthood.
Check out a selection of reviews below.
Jennifer Senior (The New York Times)
“The intended audience for Women Who Work is a more mysterious question. Trump starts out presuming a wide range of female readers. But a class bias at some point begins to reveal itself, and it’s not just in the business leaders she profiles — who, like Trump, are often the daughters of New York City’s elite. It’s in her discussion of Covey’s four-quadrant time-management grid, when she identifies grocery shopping as neither urgent nor important. (Do the groceries just magically appear in her fridge? Oh, wait. They probably do.) It’s in her confession that ‘honestly, I wasn’t treating myself to a massage or making much time for self-care’ during the 2016 campaign. (Too busy.)”
Jia Tolentino (The New Yorker)
“What’s more striking is that the book fails even to get its own story straight: Which came first, Ivanka’s women’s-empowerment initiative or her desire to sell more shoes? The initiative evolved ‘very organically,’ she writes. And yet throughout the book she reverts to the tone of a pitch deck … The book ultimately doesn’t try very hard to obscure the fact that the Women Who Work initiative was created, as the Timesrecently reported, as a way to make Ivanka products more marketable. She seems unwilling to acknowledge — if this is something that she has even grasped in the first place—that there could, hypothetically, be a difference between what’s good for women and what’s good for her brand.”
Annalisa Quinn (NPR)
“Trump’s lack of awareness, plus a habit of skimming from her sources, often results in spectacularly misapplied quotations — like one from Toni Morrison’s Beloved about the brutal psychological scars of slavery. ‘Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another,’ is positioned in cute faux-handwritten capitals (and tagged #itwisewords) before a chapter on ‘working smarter.’ In it, she asks: ‘Are you a slave to your time or the master of it? Despite your best intentions, it’s easy to be reactive and get caught up in returning calls, attending meetings, answering e-mails …'”
Michelle Goldberg (Slate)
“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. ‘My father has always said, if you love what you do, and work really, really hard, you will succeed,’ she writes at one point, adding that passion is ‘a great equalizer, more important than education or experience in creating your version of success.’ Elsewhere, she quotes the management guru Stephen Covey: ‘You choose success. You choose failure. You choose courage. You choose fear.’ Both she and her father, of course, had the good sense to choose to be heirs to a real estate fortune.”
Beth Teitell (The Boston Globe)
“Ivanka’s life seems pretty smooth, but in her book she reveals struggles, like the time Anna Wintour heard that she was about to graduate from college and called out of the blue with a job offer, a challenge familiar to many aspiring writers. The problem was that Ivanka had already accepted a job with Forest City Ratner, a development firm, and she had to tell Anna no!”