Over the past week, both Eric and Donald Trump have made it very clear what they think Ivanka Trump ought to do in the face of sexual harassment. Donald — who spoke in defense of Roger Ailes, the ex-Fox CEO who’s facing a slew of sexual-harassment charges — declared that, should she be harassed at work, Ivanka “would find another career or find another company,” while Eric called his sister a “strong, powerful woman” who “wouldn’t allow herself to be subjected to it.”
There are obvious problems with both Donald’s and Eric’s assessments (both father and son place responsibility for harassment on the victim), and their comments have drawn ire. But on Tuesday night, Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren asked Ivanka — someone who’s actually a woman and who’s actually experienced sexual harassment on the job — her thoughts on all of this.
“I think harassment in general, regardless, sexual or otherwise, is totally inexcusable and if it transpires it needs to be reported and it needs to be dealt with on a company level,” she replied.
She went on: “We have a very strong HR team at the Trump Organization, who is equipped to deal with these issues if they arise … and you hope you have a culture in which they don’t arise. But when they do, it needs to be dealt with swiftly.”
In her 2009 book, The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life, Ivanka detailed her own experiences with sexual harassment, which included harassment on her father’s construction sites. “The workers never realized I was the boss’s daughter when they started hooting and hollering, and it didn’t much matter how I responded,” she wrote. “I’d laugh it off and act as it it were no big deal.”
But in deciding how to respond to comments, Ivanka described a “no-win situation” that many women know all too well: “If I ignored the inappropriate remarks, I might come across as weak. If I responded too harshly, I’d be a tightly wound witch.” Her advice to readers was to “Learn to figure out when a hoot or a holler is indeed a form of harassment and when it’s merely a good-natured tease that you can give back in kind.” Which may not be the best approach, but at least it’s one that acknowledges that sexual harassment exists.