Commerce and Resistance in the Era of Ivanka

Confession: While I am a Very Serious Person, sometimes I’m a Very Tired Person, but not quite tired enough for Poirot. At times like those, I turn to lifestyle blogs. I read about skincare regimes I’ll never follow, complicated meals I probably won’t prepare, that sort of thing. It’s escapist, a way to avoid tragic-information overload online, not to mention performative wokeness. Normally that’s how I feel about them.

But with the election, something shifted. An utterly innocuous election post at Cupcakes and Cashmere left me sort of reeling, maybe because I’m ridiculous, maybe not: “It’s almost hard to believe that the election is over, and I can only hope the divisions that became evident over this campaign will heal and that our country’s new leadership will govern with love and acceptance,” wrote Emily Schuman, whose blog it is, and all I could think was, really, that’s it? It’s not clear from the post (but is from her public Instagram) that she’d been a Clinton supporter. I mean, gah! I like Emily Schuman, as much as one can like someone one only knows via their aggressively-not-edgy (which is to say, escapist) lifestyle blog, and I like her politics! And yes, out-of-place awareness can be worse than saying nothing, so it’s hard, if you’re a lifestyle writer and not an opinion writer, as I am, to say anything! But the post was just so neutral, so careful, and I wanted something more.

(This being the Sisterhood, now would normally be the time when I’d Google whether the woman I’m writing about is Jewish, which frankly I’m not keen to do this week, given that ‘outing’ Jews now means frightening trolling, not just ‘who knew?’ chit-chat amongst ourselves.)

The question of the moment is shaping up to be one of collaboration vs. resistance. And if the French precedent is anything to go by, these always wind up being a spectrum. I guess you can’t really blame people who want to continue their livelihoods and not alienate supporters of a man who did, after all, just win the presidency. I guess. I don’t know. Depending who you are and what you do, an #imwithher on Instagram may mean (as a Trump-supporting commenter to the post suggests) losing half your business.

So I’m going to try to get over my disappointment that Cupcakes and Cashmere isn’t Dissent, and will turn my lifestyle rage towards… you guessed it. Ivanka, who is physically incapable of not flogging her merch for like five seconds. And if you’d been unsure of how to jump on the Ivanka boycott bandwagon without sounding condescending to people who buy cheap made-in-China clothes, or (ahem) if you yourself wear cheap made-in-China clothes, but never her brand, which could still come across as condescending if your reason for Ivanka-avoidance was finding her stuff (or just her brand) kind of tacky… you’re in luck! What has Ivanka been selling this time? A nearly $11,000 bracelet. She’d tried to use “60 Minutes” as an informercial.

Emily Schuman, do what you need to do, and keep posting escapist delights. Ivanka Trump, on the other hand, ugh, where to even begin?

Yes, it’s Still Ivanka-Boycott Time

Yes, it’s Still Ivanka-Boycott Time

Phoebe Maltz Bovy edits the Sisterhood, and can be reached at bovy@forward.com. Her book, The Perils of “Privilege”, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in March 2017.

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Commerce and Resistance in the Era of Ivanka

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