What Will White Women Do in 2020?

Seeking power for its own sake leads to a pecking order, not progress

Nilofer Merchant
GEN
Published in
5 min readOct 30, 2020

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Women listen to Donald Trump at a campaign rally in November 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In my group texts and WhatsApps, on my friends’ Brooklyn stoops and in socially distanced suburban backyard gatherings, the same question keeps coming up: What will white women do?

I’m referring, of course, to the fact that 47% of white women supported Trump in 2016. But also, given that we’re celebrating the centennial of white female suffrage, to what white women have done throughout American history.

Indeed, if we could go back to 1867, to the inaugural meeting of the American Equal Rights Association, we would hear them deliberating their path to power by asking whether it was “the negro’s hour, or the women’s hour?” and not how we — each of us, all of us — get our due rights.

Instead of valuing the intersectionality of race and gender (and socioeconomic needs) to build a new coalition — after all, at the time, 94% of the U.S. population was unable to vote — white women valued, at their core, a white man’s gaze.

With Amy Coney Barrett now confirmed to the Supreme Court, we see question and answer, on repeat. A white woman deriving her power from her alliance with white men, both propping up the beneficiaries of racial inequality and patriarchy, and being used as a…

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Nilofer Merchant
GEN
Writer for

Centering that source of all innovation, #ONLYNESS, the distinct value of EACH of us. 3-time Author, 25 years as Tech exec, whose @tedtalks quoted 300M+ times