Ivanka, America and Trump’s incest comments

English: Ivanka Trump at the Vanity Fair kicko...

English: Ivanka Trump at the Vanity Fair kickoff part for the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One person who has not spoken publicly about Donald Trump’s comments about Ivanka is Ivanka. She may have responded privately or by inference, yet we do not know what she thinks.[1] We know that Ivanka is close to her father. She is closer to him than his other children and she often acts as his surrogate.[2] The relationship appears psychologically complex to the point it calls into question their psychological and emotional health.[3] It could be argued that the relationship borders on “covert incest” [4] as the public comments and intimate petting appear inappropriate.[5]

How will she explain those comments to her children?

When interviewed, Ivanka said that she would not let her children see the negative advertisements about her father. She will shield them from such comments for they are hurtful.[6] The unasked, and unanswered follow-up question, though, is how will she explain her father’s comments to her children? If her husband made such comments about her own children, how would she react?[7]

What can Ivanka do in such a situation?

Ivanka is in an invidious position. She cannot publicly rebuke her father even though such comments amount to a form of sexual harassment. As she has admitted, she lives within his shadow.[8] As Trump runs his empire, like a patriarch of old, Ivanka knows that to cross him would be sever herself from the family. The family and business blur to the point where there is no difference.[9] As a friend commented, the Trump empire rotates around Donald. It is all about him and the children are accessories to his success.[10] To cross him would destroy her brands and her personal life. As such, is it a relationship she is free to leave?

How far has America’s public morality declined?

One wonders why Trump’s comments and behaviour on The Howard Stern Show and the View were not a cause for scandal.[11] He seems impervious to moderation or shame as he appears to believe he speaks the truth. Yet, as we know from Oedipus Rex, such a truth, while perhaps personally liberating, has political and societal consequences.

Clayton Williams must be shaking his head in disbelief

In 1990 Clayton Williams made an off the cuff remark.  The remark, that women should “relax and enjoy it [rape]”, caused a political and societal furore, which helped to end his political career. He had been tipped to win the Texas governorship.[12] Today, 26 years later, America seems singularly unconcerned that a Presidential candidate that can talk candidly of incest with his daughter.[13] One could argue that rape involves violence and the other is not violent. Yet, both are a coercive and abusive relationship. They both reflect an unhealthy view of women. The comments violate the normal societal constraints that allow a society, or a person, to call itself decent. With Trump have we lost any sense of decency? 

[1] See for example, her response to the question here:

“On whether she ever admonishes her father for his more outrageous assertions and personal insults: “Well, I’m his daughter. In a political capacity, I don’t. It’s his campaign. I don’t feel that’s my role. But I would challenge him as a child. That’s what children do. [My daughter] Arabella challenges me every day. People ask me, do I ever disagree with my father? It would be a little strange if I didn’t.””


She also responded indirectly when the issue was raised directly.

“Notoriously, appearing on the View in 2006 with Ivanka sitting beside him, Trump announced: “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”

Ivanka gamely shook her head, tongue firmly in cheek, as if to say, “Yep, that’s my dad!” (This was before she became someone who tweeted out #ITWiseWords, including quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt about self-worth).”


[2] http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2016/04/13/ivanka-trump-proves-a-savvy-surrogate-for-her-father/?_r=0

[3] One recalls that Bill Clinton had a less than psychologically healthy relationship with his mother and that showed in his ability to empathize with other people. In a curious parallel, Chelsea Clinton remarked on that she shared the emotional sensitivity of her father Bill Clinton. .

“Chelsea Clinton and her husband, Marc Mezvinsky. “She’s always aware of everyone around her and ensuring that everyone is enjoying the moment,” says Chelsea. “It’s an awareness that in some ways reminds me of my dad, and his ability to increase the joy of the room.””


Consider this view of Bill Clinton’s behaviour and his success as a politician who could “feel your pain” because he had lived with the pain of abuse. The abuse, perhaps, made him acutely sensitive to the emotions of others.

“”He was abused,” Clinton told Franks. “When a mother does what she does, it affects you forever.”

Clinton continued: “I am not going into it, but I’ll say that when this happens in children, it scars you. You keep looking in all the wrong places for the parent who abused you.”

Franks does not specify the nature of the abuse in the the book passage and writes that the then-first lady “declined to give me details.””


[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covert_incest

[5] http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/donald-trump-awkwardly-hugs-melania-ivanka-expert-weighs-in-w430543

[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmhCmQDoTLA

[7] The Atlantic article speculated on this point as well.

One can only imagine Ivanka the Mompreneur’s potential displeasure if her husband, Jared Kushner, spent their daughter’s teenage years crowing about her hotness, and his desire to date her, if not for the for taboos on incest.


[8] In 2003, he told Howard Stern,

“You know who’s one of the great beauties of the world, according to everybody? And I helped create her? Ivanka. My daughter, Ivanka. She’s six feet tall, she’s got the best body. She made a lot of money as a model—a tremendous amount.”


[9] “The Trump Organization has a unique culture. Everyone calls the boss “Mr. Trump.” Employees often eat lunch at the Trump Grill, in the lobby of Trump Tower, which offers a dish called Ivanka’s Salad. The higher you get in the company, the more the family and business blur. Michael Cohen, the executive vice-president of the Trump Organization, told the Jewish Chronicle, “To those of us who are close to Mr. Trump, he is more than our boss. He is our patriarch.”” http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/08/22/ivanka-trump-and-jared-kushners-power-play

[10] “A Trump family friend told me, “It’s a close family in many ways—except it’s all about Donald all the time.” He went on, “Donald only thinks of himself. When you say, ‘Donald, it’s raining today,’ he says, ‘It doesn’t matter, I’m indoors.’ ” http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/08/22/ivanka-trump-and-jared-kushners-power-play

[11] http://www.mediaite.com/online/donald-trump-wont-stop-joking-about-banging-his-daughter/

[12] http://www.nytimes.com/1990/03/26/us/texas-candidate-s-comment-about-rape-causes-a-furor.html

[13] For Clayton Williams the comments were never forgotten or forgiven. In 2008, he raised funds for the McCain campaign. When he wanted to host a fundraiser at his home, the comment was publicized, so the campaign severed their ties with him. http://crooksandliars.com/2008/06/14/mccain-fundraiser-rape-is-like-the-weather


About lawrence serewicz

An American living and working in the UK trying to understand the American idea and explain it to others. The views in this blog are my own for better or worse.
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