As much of the nation, I was stunned and heartbroken by Trump’s victory on November 8th. The words ‘disappointed’ and ‘angry’ didn’t begin to describe how I was feeling.
As a woman, the idea of our first female President was something I was indescribably excited to be able to show my daughter. Instead, I ended up having to explain to my child that yes, the bully had won. We talked about how there were still good people in the world and how hard we’re going to fight for what’s right.
It felt like a platitude. I wanted to believe what I was telling her, but I have to admit I had lost much of my faith in humanity.
As the statistics started to come out, I was left speechless. Ninety-four percent of Black women voted for Clinton, sixty-eight percent of Latina women voted for Clinton, and fifty-three percent of White women voted for Trump.
How did this happen??
Obviously this is a complex issue with more than one answer. Just a few of the reasons that came to mind include;
-The ‘single issue voters’ who choose their candidate based solely on one subject (pro-lifers seem to be the most common in my experience).
-Perhaps these women’s racism and xenophobia outweighed any other issue for them and Trump’s hate speech spoke to them in a way that nothing else did (isn’t that a disturbing thought).
-Some women still don’t believe a woman should be President, internalized misogyny is a very powerful thing.
All of these things obviously played a hand in what happened, and as many more eloquent than I have already said, we as white people have a lot of work to do. I still felt like I was missing a piece of the puzzle though, but it was that last point that got to me.
It wasn’t just men mocking Hillary on television for her demeanor, or her clothes, or any number of other meaningless things, lots of women said these things too. We’ve all grown up on the receiving end of comments like these. It’s normalized for women to hurt and judge other women, e.g. slut shaming. Turn on almost any reality show and it’s all you’ll see. ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘The Real Housewives’ are some of the most disgusting misogynistic and yet popular shows on television.
Women are raised from a very young age to see other women as competition, it’s normalized, and we grow up tearing each other down instead of building each other up.
The ugly truth is, a lot of women don’t want to see other women succeed.
I can only speak to my own experience but, as a white woman, I’ve never seen anyone more guilty of this than white women completely unaware of their own privilege. These are women who sneer at me when I say I’m a feminist because they equate feminism with misandry (though they’ve never heard the term before). These straight cis white women are often willfully ignorant, even defending Trump’s hate speech, so as not disturb their world view. This way they can continue to choose to think about the things that affect only them.
Isn’t that just the epitome of privilege? That they can choose to ignore all else in their selfishness while the rest of the world fight for basic human rights?
Let me be very clear, I am not excusing them, simply musing on what could possibly motivate such a self destructive vote. Their votes for Trump make them complacent in the hate and violence he causes, either directly or by example. When people are hurt, when their blood is spilled, everyone who voted for him holds some responsibility.
As other’s have said before me, us white people have a lot of work to do. It is our job to have those uncomfortable conversations with other white people.
White women especially, we have to be the ones to change minds and behaviors. We have to be the ones to set an example with how we treat other women. We have to teach our children these values and we have to help other white women unlearn what years of society has told us was normal.
We have a lot of work to do.