by Jamie Peck – from “The Guardian” February 9, 2017
Ivanka Trump spent the election trying to pull off a delicate balancing act: campaigning for an authoritarian demagogue while simultaneously hawking sensible office clothes to women. Now, those contradictions have caught up with her: Nordstrom and others have dropped her toxic brand. Her father’s reaction, predictably, was: so unfair!
But it’s not.
Back in October, Fast Company reported that traffic to her site was up 275% from the previous year and online searches for her products were up 335% from April. Ivanka’s frequent appearances on the campaign trail might have been “controversial” in the fake America, but they were paying off at the bank, as clear a sign as any that the people were with her.
At the time, this seemed like cognitive dissonance, as Ivanka’s primary demographic of professional women favored Hillary Clinton over her father, albeit by slimmer margins in the end than some strategists expected, given his brazen misogyny. (White women with college degrees went for Clinton 51% to 44%, while non-white women with college degrees favored her 76% to 19%. )
Was the increased exposure afforded by Ivanka’s involvement in her dad’s campaign really worth alienating more than half of her potential customers? Why should Ivanka get a pass just because she has shiny hair and avoids all but a narrow range of topics? And was it really a good idea for someone who’d built her brand around an image of monied classiness to use her political screen time to shill her wares like some sort of blond, fascist Kardashian?
The other nude pump began to drop when a group of women disgusted by Trump Senior’s “grab ’em by the pussy” comments – a scandal in which Ivanka reprised her by-then stale role of character witness – started a grassroots boycott campaign called Grab Your Wallet targeted at the Ivanka Trump brand – the wares themselves, as well as the stores selling them. Would it work?
And then a funny thing happened: the boycott grew and persisted, until stores began dropping Ivanka’s wares from their shelves. As of this writing, at least seven retailers have dropped Ivanka’s goods, including Neiman Marcus, Gilt, Shoes.com and, most recently, Nordstrom, which insists they did not drop the brand due to negative press surrounding the boycott, but simply to poor sales, which makes me wonder if they know what a boycott is.
In any case, Nordstrom’s stock has already recovered and then some from the brief dip caused by President Trump’s outburst about the unfairness of it all, to the tune of +4%. “Yeah that was some next-level #grabyourwallet today, everyone,” tweeted boycott co-founder Shannon Coulter. “Good job!” A constantly updated list of boycott targets remains pinned to the top of her profile.
The Nordstrom victory is but one example of liberals staying angry and engaged on a level we have not seen in the recent past. Following the huge groundswell of people who protested for the first time at the Women’s March, folks are keeping the momentum going by weaving activism into the fabric of their everyday lives, showing up in waves for immigrants, women and LGBT people.
The Women’s March website itself is posting a new action every 10 days, and adherents are doing them by the millions. At least some of these people are sympathetic to more radical elements within the anti-Trump movement, and will hopefully pick up some good habits that can be deployed under Democrats and Republicans alike. Assuming these activities can be sustained and grown, we could finally see a resurgence of grassroots movements in the progressive mainstream, leading to a healthier political culture overall.
Of course, boycotts alone will not stop Trumpism. Effective resistance to authoritarianism requires more disruptive actions than not buying certain products, and it’s easy for more seasoned activists to scoff at those who think they can shop their way to a better world.
But if there’s anything the past few weeks have taught us, it’s that resistance must take as many forms as possible, and it’s possible to call attention to the ravages of neoliberalism while simultaneously allying with any and all takers against the immediate dangers posed by our impetuous orange president.