Will White Women Redeem Themselves?
In 2016, a plurality of white women voted for Donald Trump — 47% to 45% for Clinton. Which was incredible given the “grab them by the pussy” comments and all the sexual assault allegations. But perhaps what those who were shocked by the polling missed was how deeply misogyny is ingrained in American culture.
Women of color were not shocked. This is because white feminism has historically been exclusionary of women of color. Writing for GEN, Nilofer Merchant spells it out:
Instead of standing up and for certain principles and building the associated coalition, the majority of white women have repeatedly worked to take power. Instead of forging the power their freedom requires, they seek the approval of those who already have power, white men, with all their status and connections. They turn their face to that sun yet never feel warm.
What Will White Women Do in 2020
Seeking power for its own sake leads to a pecking order, not progress
There is a lie we believe about America: Everyone is equal. And that’s something we aspire toward but have yet to achieve. But for many white women, America can feel equal. Or if not equal, at least comfortable. So why upset the status quo? Why change? If America is good enough for me, then it’s good for everyone.
I wrote in 2016 about the sexist divide in the country, which eventually broke up my marriage to a Trump supporter. In response, many, many white women replied that it wasn’t them that voted that way, they were involved, they voted for Hilary Clinton. And since then, white women have been making a lot of noise: the Women’s March and the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, events galvanizing and mobilizing women to vote and organize and participate in democracy.
And the grassroots efforts on behalf of women (not clear if it was just white women) did make Arizona and Texas into states that were once solidly red, now at least in play. The 19th reported that, so far, early voting was heavily women, although it did not break down by race.
But is all this mobilization enough? Will white women redeem themselves? Will they engage and stay engaged? Will they continue the fight even if the result isn’t the one they worked for?