Outrage erupted on Feb. 9 when President Donald Trump’s Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, publicly endorsed Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump’s clothing line during an appearance on Fox and Friends. Conway is quoted as saying, “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff, is what I would tell you … I hate shopping, but I’m going to go get some for myself today. I’m going to give it a free commercial here, go buy it today.” Ethically speaking, a government employee using their position to endorse a product is wrong and should receive some kind of reprimand. Whether or not this is being properly taken care of is still up for debate. The fact that action should be taken in response to the ethical error is not something that can be disputed. However, I think that it is important to take a closer look at those who are calling for leniency toward Conway and are saying that they will still support her despite the blunder. Many of them are being called out by others, mainly liberals, for doing so and I think that there is something interesting about that. Yes, Conway did make a large ethical error, but there’s a lot more to her that people are choosing to ignore at this time, seemingly because of that mistake.
Kellyanne Conway can be admired even if one is not a Trump supporter. Something that did not get nearly as much attention as her recent ethical error is that the day Trump won the American presidency, Conway hit a milestone for American women by being the first woman to manage a successful presidential campaign. That is a huge achievement and I believe that it deserves far more acknowledgement than it got at the hands of the media. Like it or not, Trump did legally win the presidency. Conway accomplished her purpose — she got the job done. I don’t agree with her candidate and I probably also wouldn’t agree with her on many things politically, but I will admire her for her hard work and campaign strategy. When Trump first announced his candidacy, I never thought that he could be president of the United States. Conway somehow figured out a way to make that happen and while I’m not glad it happened, I can recognize a hardworking woman when I see one.
What puzzles me is that when Hillary Clinton was criticized for her legitimacy as a candidate or Michelle Obama was called out on her fashion choices, feminists were always there to make sure that people knew there was more to these women than their mistakes and their clothes. I don’t hear any of the feminists who sang Clinton and Obama’s praises crying Conway’s. Instead, I hear them doing exactly what they claim to despise — crying out a strong woman’s faults and forgetting her successes. Those who critique Obama and Clinton: beware of their feminist guard dogs. However, Conway doesn’t seem to be awarded the same level of protection. Not to say that faults should be ignored, but it’s not fair for anyone to have only their faults receive mass media attention.
I am a feminist and I am proud of it, but I am incredibly aware of the many flaws within the feminist movement and I believe the recent situation is a good illustration of one of them. A common feminist complaint is that women’s flaws are magnified and their successes are all but forgotten. I believe that to be true in many instances and I believe that many feminists are picking and choosing who they choose to defend against such scrutiny. Conservative women, like Conway, are some of the ones who are often not chosen, and I believe that to be hypocritical and unjust of the feminist movement. Conway deserves to be reprimanded for her mistake, but we all make mistakes. She also deserves to be remembered for the strong, independent woman that she is, whether or not one agrees with her politics.