Halt Action Group is at it again. The activist network first came to our attention when they started the brilliant @Dear_Ivanka Instagram, appealing to the First Daughter through hilarious and depressingly real memes. Now the group has taken to recreating the iconic cover of Ivanka’s can’t-believe-it’s-real-but-it-actually-is new book, Women Who Work.
Halt is excited to announce that Ivanka Trump’s much awaited book “Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success” is coming out May 2nd! We are busy planning a party to help Ivanka launch her book and “celebrate” her vision of 21st century feminism. As part of our daily countdown, we will be posting suggested cover images and will be inviting a series of working women to chime in with their thoughts on Ivanka’s neoliberal self-help manual. PS: Women Who Work is published by @portfolio_books , a division of @penguinbooks…you may want to @grabyourwallet! #womenwhoworkbook
Migrant Mother (1936) is an enduring icon of the struggles of working womanhood—“a timeless and universal symbol of suffering in the face of adversity.” Photographed by Dorothea Lange—daughter of German immigrants, herself a working mother who documented the plight of the displaced workers, sharecroppers and starving families for the US government during the Great Depression—her singular image persists to this day as a refutation of the usurpation of feminist issues by plutocratic white women. Riding the waves of our current American zeitgeist of “Lean In” corporatized feminism, Ivanka Trump’s hollow and self-serving drivel about “Women Who Work” is perfectly refuted by Lange’s image. Migrant Mother (alongside the legacy of her groundbreaking author) continues to personify the monumental struggles of actual working women, 99% of whom don’t have the privilege of “celebrating their multidimensionality,” nor do they struggle with “leading meetings and training for marathons.” Outside Ivanka’s gilded vision of 21st century working womanhood, most women in America struggle with the harsh realities of wage inequity, racism, misogyny, devaluation of their contributions, and sexual harassment in the workplace, and the shattering and irrefutable lack of a social safety net. Way far away from Ivankaworld are the new threats to those of us who are not straight or cisgendered. Not to mention those #womenwhowork who aren’t native born Americans: those imperiled women are burdened with the extreme xenophobic realities of transnational migration surmounting immense odds to survive, let alone #work. Ivanka, we don’t buy your narcissistic, neoliberal propaganda. We also have no illusions about your “feminist” book. Rather, we are committed to refute and to smear your credibility. No one associated with the Trump administration cares to “rewrite the rules” for women. We dismantle and disfigure your #womenwhoworkbook- providing us with a catalyst to formulate a radical agenda for intersectional and class based interrogation of your “brand” of feminism. We chose Lange’s Migrant Mother as one of our enduring emblems—the perfect Alt-left cover for your book. Alison Gingeras
Part self-help, part I don’t even know, the book teaches women how to “have it all” in the home and The House, ignoring practically every single thing that might make other women’s lives different from hers. That obliviousness has spawned a slew of updated covers by Halt that make The First Family’s ignorance seem only slightly less depressing. The new visuals include a a sex worker, a Richard Sandler photo of three black nannies pushing white babies in strollers and a 1973 Salvador Dali image from the pages of Playboy. All of them represent the lives of women far more than the original.
Dear @IvankaTrump, I hope you are watching Hulu’s version of Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale. There is the obvious dystopian allusion to endless attempts by male politicians to control women’s reproductive rights, which Atwood exaggerates into a mandate where the few fertile women left are forced to have children for the ruling class. Talk about Women Who Work! But this is not the only resonance that I discovered that should interest you: Atwood depicts a world where women are forced to reproduce when it becomes more and more difficult to do so, just like birthrates falling across the globe— America too. You are an anomaly with three children because one thing I know is most women can barely imagine having any. Twenty-something year olds are paying off student loans with unstable jobs. Others work, work, work through their child bearing years. For the lucky, Google is paying to freeze their eggs! The resources a woman would need to support a life of working and having children have all been privatized from pre-natal care to preschool. It isn’t ecological disaster or toxins that are sterilizing our women, its fear and the inability to find a way to work that would make room to support a child in the way that we women know they need. You might consider not having children an ethical choice in the face of an unethical system. Given that women have rewritten the rules for themselves in this way, some sacrificing their deep desires to have children, I’m trying to understand what exactly you are advocating for in your book? Especially since re-writing the rules for oneself, will always be at the expense of other women. Nevertheless, some part of me is hopeful. In Atwood’s story the women who cling to their gender roles in order to stay attached to power, closing their eyes to the pain they inflict on other women, don’t seem very happy; while those who have no power live with an inordinate amount of pain, a pain that they know unites them with other women. If that is the case, we are only a hairs’ breadth away from a new feminist revolution. – Moira Wegel, Author of “Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating” @portfolio_books #womenwhoworkbook
Dear @Ivankatrump, Please remember that any simple affirmation of work—of men, women, workers who work, should, must, must be allowed to work—risks indulging in a fascism which is an essential trait of work itself. Work, without working through the history embedded in the command to “work,” whatever it otherwise produces, erects the autarchic figure of the self-producing, self-empowered individual, shining in the garments of happy liberalism, designed to cloth the annihilation of others, the crude and cruel homogenization of differences, that is the cost of your freedom to work. – M. Coelen, Psychoanalyst in Berlin and New York #womenwhoworkwillnotsetyoufree @portfolio_books Picture: Dali for Playboy
Dear @Dear Ivanka, Your father-in-law did time, just like the woman above (and just to be clear, the D.O.C. t-shirt on the back of her chair does not refer to denominazione di origine de controllata, as she is not making wine or cheese). I think that prisons reflect the unadorned truth about the societies they inhabit–their heart of darkness as it were. The woman in the beige shirt at the sewing machine is working in a prison, laboring for some corporation. She may be paid a few pennies an hour. She may not be paid at all. Nevertheless, we can probably both agree Ivanka, that she is, inarguably, a “woman who works.” Slavery was abolished across the nation in 1863, and we usually associate slavery with unpaid labor among other dehumanizing things. I am pretty sure, ’cause you are slick like ice,’ that you would never say that you think slavery is ok, though we all know you pay women in China almost nothing. To embrace unpaid labor would reveal you to potentially be a very troubled person-one who we psychoanalysts know we cannot help- namely, a psychopath, one who lacks empathy for those she harms. And you know about psychopathy of course-also called anti-social personality disorder-having been stalked by John Eugene Enabnit and Justin Massler- men who were sure they deserved to have access to you regardless of your wishes? Meanwhile, I realize I feel overpowered against my will by the smoke and mirror show embraced by your new book that misappropriates- or steals- the aims of feminism. I am reminded of some patients I have worked with who nevertheless showed a flagrant disregard for the rights and feelings of others. Some of them still owe me for a month’s worth of work. The weird thing about treating this sort of person is that they trick you into attributing to them a capacity for goodness and care and when they screw you over, as they can’t help but do, you never saw it coming. Here at HALT Action Group, we are dedicated to keeping just ahead of that curve. Yours always, Halt Psychoanalysts @portfolio_books #womenwhoworkbook
But these memes aren’t just for fun, either. Each photo is accompanied by different Dear Ivanka letters, pointing out the blatant hypocrisy of writing a book that encourages women to work, while her father does everything in his power to make sure they can’t do it comfortably, safely or for as much as men.
“These counter-arguments and visuals hope to dismantle Trump’s usurpation of feminist politics and interrogate her ‘brand’—especially its ‘trickle down’ variety of white ‘successful’ entrepreneurial feminism,” said the group. “Ivanka cannot easily promote women’s empowerment while she supports her father’s administration, one that everyone knows undermines actual working women and their families.The real agenda seems to be: ‘Ivanka First, Women Second.'”
I know I’m no Trump, but I do have some advice for little Ivanka—maybe she should self-help herself and stop talking.