Following the removal of former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, long-time Trump communications aide Hope Hicks was named interim communications director. But as of this week, it looks like Hicks will be taking the job permanently — permanently, as in until whenever Trump gets upset with and subsequently axes her.
The fact remains that President Trump‘s cabinet has more white males than any cabinet in recent history, but his communications team is notably staffed with not one but multiple women.
The women of the Trump administration have always raised the question of what representation means in the absence of actual advocacy for women’s rights, and an apparently female-dominated communications team brings this question front and center. There’s some well-founded debate about what this development means for feminism, with some suggesting, however reluctantly, that at least a little bit of credit is due to the Trump administration.
Has a WH comms shop ever had so many women at the top?
Hope Hicks, press sec Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Mercedes Schlapp now running the show https://t.co/62JSgH5mB3
— Rebecca Berg (@rebeccagberg) September 12, 2017
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) September 12, 2017
That being said, we should all hold our applause. Representation of women never hurts — but it doesn’t always help.
No one’s ever said the Trump administration can’t benefit individual women — namely wealthy white ones like his daughter Ivanka. But it doesn’t benefit women as a whole when Betsy DeVos rolls back protections for sexual assault survivors on campus, or when Sarah Huckabee Sanders calls Hillary Clinton‘s campaign the nastiest in recent history — as if it was Clinton, not Trump, who mocked or attacked disabled people, prisoners of war, sexual assault survivors, and pretty much every group but straight white Christian males. Don’t even get me started on the things he said about his opponents.
And when Trump’s female appointees are regularly getting on podiums to explain to other women why they’ll be losing their health care, why their president think it’s OK to routinely make gross, sexist comments on women’s appearances, it’s hard to see their appointments as marginally helpful for women’s rights and representation.
Rather than serve women, Trump’s female appointees serve him and his agenda. In the eyes of Trump and his supporters, they function as quick and convenient shields for accusations of sexism. They work for a man who is taking women’s rights back decades in time, happy to advance themselves at the expense of women everywhere.
That’s why references to the women who work for Trump in response to claims that the president is sexist are so annoying and, frankly, ignorant. When it comes to the dialogue around Trump and sexism, if we are judging these women by their words and actions and not simply by their existence within an administration that is tireless in targeting women’s rights, they change absolutely nothing.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.