Us

It is now increasingly clear that white women bear a substantial share in electing Donald Trump. Since I am a white woman, I want to talk about us. Not about them – those who voted for Trump – but about us, white American women in general.

 

My abiding, albeit deeply shaken, conviction is that one of the only things human beings have as a shared moral resource is talking. So we need urgently to talk about white women. I say we need to talk about us, thereby implicitly excluding all the non-us readers (people who aren’t white women) not because I don’t want to hear from them, but because asking them what the hell is wrong with us would be an affront. As if they don’t have enough to worry about and have time to address our delicate agonies. So if you’re not one of us, feel free to chime in but feel free to avert your gaze in disgust too since we earned at least that.

 

I think I understand – though surely not as deeply as I ought – that many white women have some, several, or all of the afflictions shot through the Trump campaign: racism, xenophobia, misogyny, nativism, white dominance. And one of the challenges, I think, after all this is how to address all this, especially how all of this nets together rather than existing as discrete problems. Still, let me just focus on what might be the lowest hanging fruit for us.

 

Extraordinary numbers of white women voted for a man who boasts of sexual assault, who has been accused of sexual assault by a long line of women, and who has, in almost every conceivable way to hand for a politician, expressed disdain for women. So somehow millions of white women voters said… what? “Yeah, but…” What? “What he really stands for is…?” What? In other words, even if these women care not a whit for all of the other deeply morally objectionable things Trump professed and laid out as plans, they could have cared about this. Leave them all the other vices and their dignity as women could have revolted and broke the other way. So, why didn’t it?

 

I don’t think it’s enough to explain this by saying that white women may labor under internalized patriarchy and misogyny. Or, if they do, why do they? More pointedly, where is feminism? White women have historically pretty much run the show where feminism is concerned, so here too, this is us. I think this is one of the things we have a duty to try sort out, though I don’t myself know where or how to begin. So, please, talk.

58 thoughts on “Us

  1. I think it is uncomfortable to admit that women are driven by class concerns, and that feminists left the factory and only began hanging out in boardrooms, ivory towers, and school boards. Women who could leave looked to college as their salvation, leaving their mothers and sisters high and dry on the factory floor. Once they left the unions, they didn’t look back. If you don’t have an advocate who can truly best your oppressor, then you find someone who can. I believe these women found Trump.

  2. So I’m not one of your ‘us’, in that I am neither white nor American. But this is certainly the right conversation to be having. And I think with your definition of ‘us’, are targeting the right people, because this conversation does have to happen among white women and it is heartening to hear you say you feel you have a duty to sort it out. On social media today I came across someone else saying that the lesson of this election is ‘that American racism beats American feminism’. Which sounds about right – the question for you is therefore perhaps not ‘Where is feminism’ but ‘What is it about American feminism (and American racism, for that matter) that failed to counter this?’. Good luck with the conversation; I’ll be listening.

  3. (1) The Democratic Party long ago began shifting its focus from economic issues to a range of other issues, including environmentalism and a range of social issues which are of little or no interest to many Americans, and has adopted positions on these issues with which many disagree. When I first registered to vote and ticked the ‘Democrat’ box I thought the whole business was economic redistribution, social safety nets, and progress to a strong welfare state. That concern was submerged as the party increasingly catered to its emerging base, upper middle class professionals, who were economically secure and didn’t stand to lose from the ‘hollowing out’ of the labor market, the loss of those mid-range skilled jobs for non-college grads that for decades had provided a decent living for working class Americans.

    Of course the Democratic Party does much better on those economic issues than the Other One. That’s why I’ve stuck with it and always will (unless, as is improbably, a major party to the left economically emerges). Nevertheless, what people see of the party is a program for addressing the preoccupations of an urban-coastal elite (i.e. me and most readers of this blog) and, to the extent that it is concerned with economic issues, has adopted policies that benefit minorities at the expense of white working class Americans—to repeat the obvious.

    (2) Feminism, also playing to its base of upper middle class women, has also shifted its focus from economic and labor force issues, to a range of social and sexuality issues that are of less concern to most women. Personally, I feel betrayed. The male-female wage gap has not narrow appreciably since the 1990s, glass ceilings are still in place and, for me most importantly, horizontal sex segregation in the market for jobs that don’t require a college degree, where roughly 2/3 of American women compete, is unabated. I looked at the most recent BLS stats for occupations by gender recently. Of the two aggregated categories of occupations that would be characterized as ‘blue collar’ work, women represent a little over 2 and 3 percent respectively. For specific occupations under those categories more than half (eyeballing) don’t even include a sufficient number of women to report.

    Again, it isn’t hard to see why. Upper middle class women can easily imagine themselves, or their daughters, needing abortions. The possibility that that option would not be available is a real fear. They do not worry that they or their daughters would be stuck for most of their adult lives cashiering at Walmart, working in a call center, or doing any of the other boring, dead-end pink-collar work which are the only options most women have. And they don’t even think of blue-collar work.

    Because of my life history and preferences I’m peculiar in that respect. I have never gone through a checkout line and a women trapped in a 2’ x 2’ space, doing the endless, mind-killing, repetitive task of scanning groceries without recognizing that I escaped that by the skin of my teeth—and feeling real, visceral fear: the possible world where I have a boring pink-collar job is too close for comfort. Maybe my problem is modal realism ;-> I also see that if I hadn’t caught the brass ring I would have no escape route: I couldn’t get any of the blue-collar jobs that I would find more tolerable. When I have workers in to do the gardening, do repair on my house or appliances, or exterminate my critters, when I see construction workers, house painters, or road crew at work, I never fail to think: I couldn’t get any of those jobs.

    The issue for me is one of priorities. Of course I’m concerned about the environment, of course I think abortion should be legal and readily available, etc. But the central concern for me, and I suspect many Americans outside the bubble, is decent work and economic security. So even for me, who am not personally vulnerable (at the actual world) and am on board with the agenda, I grind my teeth when I see fellow progressives and feminists promoting their signature issues while there has been little or no progress on the economic and workplace issues that concern me.

  4. Here in Canada, I watched the election with mix of Clintonites, Trumpers and abstainers. Listening to them all prepared me for the results. But I didn’t expect what pew research suggests–the republicans gained ground with women, latinos, blacks, working class folk. Clinton gained ground among the educated. She also did really well (can’t find data on last election to compare) with folks who identify with Feminism. I wonder: is feminism leaving the uneducated behind?

    I look where Clinton gained ground–on campuses… and I find that the stories that percolated your northern border, the ones that I have started to recall the last couple days, were about ‘victims’ of chalk expressions (“trump2016”), about safe spaces and trigger warnings. This is a memory skewed by my own bias and the bias of my sources, but I wonder: did a similar picture percolate into the homes of ‘uneducated’ white women?

    I’m still trying to figure out whether Trump is more like Mussolini or the Wizard of Oz. Clinton’s speech suggests she believes something closer to the latter, swing voters probably agreed.

  5. I’m sympathetic to the claim that class issues are a strong undercurrent here. I also see that what may register in feminist discourse as problems can look like self-indulgent luxuries to working class and lower class women. But sexual harassment and assault are not, I think, perceived as privileged woman problems. So why wouldn’t Trump’s boasting of this matter? I guess I don’t see why Trump wasn’t completely identified, by white women voters, with That Guy, the bane of working women across the labor spectrum – That Guy who thinks he can enjoy a little grab because he writes the paycheck or who can ogle and evaluate and on and on. White women have just helped elect That Guy. And especially for women of working and lower class, That Guy is the *least* escapable – quitting, complaining, filing a grievance are all far, far less accessible. Do you have any thoughts on why this didn’t have some purchase? Again, white women could have discounted the entire litany of other enormous issues and this could have been sufficient to bar a vote for him. Why wouldn’t it have been?

  6. I’m seeing two possibilities here. One is that many women might eventually have mentally filed away the things Trump did as examples of “celebrity shenanigans” – stuff that happens between certain celebrity males and random gorgeous celebrity females – and not sufficiently “real world” to be relevant to them in their lives.

    Another is that they’re so accustomed to men being jerks in this context that they can just tune it out as ordinary and politically irrelevant. The possibility of some guy being “That Guy” is so pervasive that you just have to manage it as best you can — avoiding being alone with him, letting other women know to watch out for him, but not realistically having anything constructive to do about his behavior. So now white women can be grateful that they know better than to spend time alone with this particular man, but the likelihood that that would ever happen is so marginally slim that again, it’s not much relevant to them in their lives. And maybe this sort of information is so commonplace that women just have to compartmentalize it away from their general overall judgments of such men?

  7. Important post.

    Some commenters — in line with a mainstream media narrative — seem confused, insisting on the dominance of class issues to explain the white woman vote when race was obviously the dominant factor. (Also, Republicans did not gain ground with black voters, who were 88 percent for Clinton, except relative to Obama. The black vote since 1996 has ranged from 84 to 95 percent for the Democratic candidate.) Evidently, most white women do not believe that sexism and other gender issues play a critical role in their lives.

    Trump won “white women” 53 to 43 percent.
    Clinton won the “under $50k” vote 52 to 41 percent.
    Clinton won “white college-grad women” 51 to 45 percent.
    Clinton won “non-whites college grads” 71 to 23 percent.
    Trump won “white non-college women” 62 to 34 percent.
    Clinton won the overall “black female” vote 94 to 4.

    (Black turnout was down, even as the percentage of black voters for the Democratic candidate remained within the contemporary historical range.)

    This does not mean that class considerations were generally unimportant. If Democrats are going to push socially liberal values across the nation, they’re going to have to also prioritize supporting an economy that works for ordinary Americans. “Incrementalism” has been exposed as not good enough. Pushing values that many Americans don’t share while offering them little to nothing of what they most need is a losing formula.

  8. re: Anon

    First, I agree that ‘class consideration can’t be the whole story. Even so,I don’t think class concerns raised by Lars or baber are in any way confused. To defend my own line of thought: the growing ‘educational’ gap is something worth looking at, and I think* it ties into some ‘class’ narratives.

    Anon points towards a static, correlation picture. In my comment, the change* of those demographics help guide my understanding of this election.. I agree it is important to note that, overall, now and historically, race and gender are great indicators for how someone votes. But those stats you show can tell you nothing about how Trump managed to change voter demographics. Consider the following: Trump runs as the DEM candidate against, say, a REP Clinton. If Trump wins the black vote 56 to 43, what does this show? If you don’t know anything about how this demographic changed, you might think that Trump spoke to black people/issues more than Clinton, but if it turns out that this is a record LOW for the DEMs. then we need to explain why Trump lost so many black votes. (sorry if this is obvious!)

    Again, I don’t want to deny the relevance of Anon’s data. Those white women who historically tend to vote republican could have done so for the typical reasons that are showing up survey data: high concern about the economy, border security, immigration, terrorism etc. and low concern about sexism, racism, gun violence, cllimate change etc.. In fact, sticking with an emphasis on *change*, FiveThirtyEight shows that Trump had better margins that Romney where there were fewest immigrants.

    Sources: http://www.pewresearch.org/ & http://fivethirtyeight.com/

  9. Dyami,

    Maybe I am confused or missing something. I admit that I cannot grasp how your comments relevantly respond to mine. Perhaps you could offer an explanation of the stark exit poll numbers that are the basis for my perspective. To be clear, I understand “class” in a racially-inclusive sense — not as limited to white people. The “under $50K” vote, which one might think is a good indicator for “class,” apparently was won by Clinton by a clear margin.

  10. In some ways I’m just restating Dyami’s point, but:

    Suppose you thought that Trump’s policies for America were better for you, yours and the nation than Clinton’s. Mightn’t it then make sense to set aside Trump’s *personal* shortcomings given his *policy* advantages?

    I don’t think Bill Clinton’s sexual-harassment shortcomings are in any way comparable to Trump’s – but even if they had been, I’m confident there would have been a lot of liberal women holding their nose and voting Clinton against the personally-more-upstanding Bob Dole, in pursuit of the larger goal of liberal policy priorities. And they’d have been right to do so.

    To be clear, I think that for most American white women (and indeed, pretty much everyone else), supporting Trump is folly even aside from his misogyny. But the decision to put the misogyny aside could still in itself be entirely rational.

  11. With regard to the specific claim that sexual assault could have, or should have, been an overriding reason for white women voters to reject Trump…this seems to depend on the idea that sexual assaults are necessarily an affront to basic human dignity. IN my experience, many heterosexual Americans of both normative genders simply do not believe this, not least because their own sexual practices rely on fairly elaborate rituals of intoxication, physical boundary-challenging, and the deliberate refusal, on the part of both men and women, to verbalize sexual desire.

    Even setting aside the question of sexual mores, however, women across classes generally set their own safety and humanity at a lesser value than that of their families and communities, a self-sacrifice that is usually punitively enforced by those same families and communities. If we take seriously the overt claims of many Trump supporters that they fear for the future of the nation, then it seems likely that their own vulnerability to sexual assault, or indeed the principle of bodily integrity itself, would be regarded as irrelevant by women Trump voters.

    IN short, I think we would do well to seriously consider the possibility that this focus on some women’s perceived responses to sexual assault reflects willful idealism or even a culpable naivete. And speaking only for myself, this post seems divorced from the practical realities of sexual violence, and especially from its pervasive normalization, in a way that makes me angry. It is as if pure absolutes are here valued more than messy, ambivalent experience, such that the latter don’t even count as philosophical resources or political realities.

  12. These comments are all helpful even though they are pushing in different directions. For me at least, they’re clarifying what I’m finding most confusing and unsettling here. Let me try to lay it out with some better sense, albeit in crudely simplistic terms.

    White women seem unique.

    Take any of the other demographic groups toward whom Trump expressed bias and contempt, and these other groups had exactly the results that one would expect: Some significant, sometimes utterly overwhelming, share said, in effect, we cannot vote for someone who evidences bias against us. That there may be some in these demographic groups who voted for Trump, presumably based on other issues (e.g., as David Wallace notes) is still a minor note against a symphony of refusal. I would have expected white women to follow this pattern too – some “other issue” voters but the lion’s share refusing.

    If any of that seems right, then the question is why. What is it about being white that makes this so? I think it must be the whiteness since all other women did not do this – we don’t see other women overlooking Trump’s contempt for them (and I speak here not simply of sexual assault but all of the relevant issues, which were many). In the most cynical construction, assuming racism, xenophobia, and so on motivated some of this, it still had to be so powerful it could swamp sexism, swamp white women’s resistance to rather open sexism. And the weirdness only multiplies, for me, when we consider that feminism, as a movement, has historically been far more a white woman’s thing (not that this is a good thing!) – i.e., white women, far more than other women, have been culturally acknowledged within feminism and more readily afforded whatever “protections” it affords. Maybe I’m just re-stating my basic confusion, but that at least is where I’m still left… White women are unique. Targeted, but ok with that in large numbers. Never mind their indifference to all the others targeted.

  13. I am not sure why these women voted for Trump, but I am not surprised that that video of him talking about groping women didn’t dissuade them from doing so.

    A not universally shared perspective on sexual assault has been emerging from college campuses for years. (In fact I doubt most of the women who voted for Trump would even use the term “sexual assault” to refer to the activities he spoke about; he clearly doesn’t think of himself as a sexual assaulter; he seems to think of himself as irresistible.) The perspective that has become mainstream on college campuses (ostensibly with its origins in feminism, although some feminists have resisted elements of this perspective and occasional feminists have even accused it of being reactionary) is that any unwanted sexual action is sexual *assault*, and that sexually assaulting someone is about the worst thing a person could do, and that being sexually assaulted is about the worst thing that could happen to someone.

    i don’t know how widely shared are all *3* pillars of this perspective.

    Women–actually at first they’re teenage girls– develop a whole toolset of skills in response to unwanted sexual advances. By the time they’re old enough to worry about whatever Trump voters were worried about, they’re mostly *not* concerned about being groped. They figure that if someone tries to grope them they’ll deflect it somehow and that if they don’t–if they get groped–it will be gross and angering but still not the end of the world–not as big a deal as, again, whatever the hell these women were worried about. And as for the kinds of guys who behave that way…. Well I guess acting that way is either commonplace enough or just not pathologized enough for them to think, “This guy is beyond the pale, absolutely unelectable.”

    I hope it’s clear that I’m not saying that most women don’t mind being groped; they do mind; but many women do appear able to brush off such things without much trouble or any trauma. And I suspect some of them wonder why other women can’t.

  14. Maybe it is that many American women simply don’t identify as being members of a vulnerable group that needs protection or supportive action. I don’t know that this is unique to white women, either. As a white woman, I was surprised back in 1991 when my female African American co-workers thought it was much more important to confirm Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court than to give credence and respect to Anita Hill.

  15. Responding to Prof Manners above:

    Yes, Trump lost those other demographic groups by large margins, but they don’t seem to be much larger margins than for Romney in 2008 or McCain in 2012, and -whatever you think of those politicians overall – they didn’t display anything remotely like Trump’s horrifying attitudes. So I don’t think there’s much evidence that Trump’s attitude to *any* demographic group actually moved the vote much.

  16. Not in the relevant ‘us’ either, so I will try to be quick, but it is worth remembering that Trump’s comments with Billy Bush weren’t the only place sexual assault came into this election. Ann Coulter said she knew she wanted to champion Trump after hearing him call Mexican immigrants “rapists,” and we’ve known since Ida Wells that the construction of white women as under siege by sexually voracious people of color is a fundamental pillar of white supremacy. I can’t recall hearing that much push back to his comments on immigrants beyond “that’s deplorable,” but if we are talking about perceptions of sexual safety specifically among white women, the depiction of POC as sexual predators who need to be reigned in by forceful law might be the place to start looking.

  17. Gender socialisation in schools. Girls stratify based on parents SES, precocity, academic ability and appearance. Coordinate assertiveness through affiliation. Exclusivity through rigid boundary maintenance, small dense networks, increases social capital by setting interactions in virtual panopticon so that trust follows confidence that norms will be policed. Means that all of your information within network is likely to be redundant – “WE hold such and such to be true”. Educated, higher SES have major schematic bias – assume all women are like them, anxious about how to realise liberation femininity via careerism, asceticism, finding a man at or above own social rank before 35, but not so early as to forestall pursuit of own achievements. Your response is so typical – pathologically work to homogenise social group, walk around sneering at young women with kids and without husbands, who drink full sugar soda and don’t do their fair share for women as a whole, then hand wring about the possibility there might be divergence of opinion within the group. What if they’re right and you’re wrong – they know what’s most pressing challenges facing women, and feminist busy bodies are making life more difficult by demanding more more more – from men, sure, but especially from women. How about a bit of redistribution to pay all these single moms for supplying fresh cohorts of relatively well adjusted work ready taxpayers and soldiers.

  18. I regret the tone of my earlier message–the expression of anger was unnecessary. I also reject attributions of a particular state of consciousness or affect to Prof Manners, as well as insinuations about her overall capacity for reasoned debate.

    However, I do think that there are too many unsupported assumptions about who “white women” are, or what sorts of collective consciousness white women Trump supporters possess, for the original inquiry about “us” to be useful. Just like there isn’t an “us” that includes all women (or all feminists) across differences of race, class, region, nation or sexuality, so there is no “us” that’s just “white women.” The category may be useful to statisticians but it is not a lived reality for many.

    I’m actually a literary scholar, not a philosopher, and I’d offer this insight from my discipline: unifying narratives are always coercive, especially in a mass-mediated and cyber-mediated environment. Any time people tell a story about who “we” are, they are effectively excluding difference. That doesn’t mean “don’t tell stories about the past” or “don’t speculate about the future,” but it does mean that identification is not something with conceptual or textual boundaries. It’s a lived experience, and it’s only understandable through lived relationships.

  19. One of the issues we might be laboring with is that Trump’s behavior towards women is largely irrelevant to his election. After all, he’s typical of his generation and class, with perhaps more opportunities than most as a rich socialite to get away with crass behavior. Can we credit most women with knowing this, and discounting it for more “serious” issues?

    There was a video on Twitter this weekend of a white woman on a bus yelling at another woman for talking in a foreign language on her phone (Assyrian, apparently). Since early days in the US there has been animosity towards new immigrants. I experienced that myself when I arrived (legally) in 1965. Nothing has really changed in this respect–attitudes to new immigrants in the US depends on whether you see them as a threat (my attackers were highly placed women, socially, BTW) or not.

    You might see the huge outsourcing of jobs from the US as an inevitable result of globalization and, if you are an educated white woman, have a strategy to continue earning a living in a country no longer a manufacturing power. If not…..then maybe somebody who promised to do something about your plight should be supported. After all, no one else cares. Others, including the companies, have moved on, and you might not be able to.

    On our racism and lack of concern for other people and other lives, well, I was shocked by the extent of this when I first arrived in the US. I wouldn’t even now want to live in an all-white community. It’s the problem of “different from..” And maybe Trump, though rich and careless, isn’t quite as “different from,” as he may seem to you.

    And then, straightforwardly, perhaps he has a better chance at breaking up the Republican gridlock in Congress than Clinton would have had. Is that a rational choice?

  20. deesse877, thanks for your follow up comment. I anticipated in going ahead with the original post that it would almost certainly inspire anger. From what I can see, it isn’t yet possible to discuss the election without anger, much of it righteous. I just also think that trying to navigate this – including anger – is useful. Or at least, I go back to my frayed thread of hope that persisting in trying to talk and understand each other has value and might even be a usefully defiant gesture in this context. I’m not very confident about this whole blogging thing – the kind of heat it can generate – but I am learning from what others are saying, so thanks for being patient with me about it and coming back.

    I do grant what you say about the category being ridiculous – there is no such thing as “white women” as a uniform, collective body. But what about its power as a heuristic for inquiry? One of my reservations about how we struggle through the aftermath of the election is how easily we can as individuals break for the side of the angels – e.g., “I voted well.” Or, relatedly, we can identify ourselves with groups readily classified as “the good guys.” I fear that this is too easily exculpatory, allowing us to sever ourselves off from membership in social groups that pattern in morally pernicious ways. And maybe suppressing recognition of how beneficial and advantageous it can be to be socially perceived as a “white woman,” particularly relative to other women. I also worry that, as a practical matter, persuasive access to others gets truncated by this move: If I don’t identify myself with “white women,” will I be less likely to see myself as a resource or as responsible for doing persuasive work among this population? Those are some of the reservations I have about letting go of this as a heuristic. My use of “us” and “we” is partly just to capture the sense of responsibility or discomfort the voting patterns elicit in me at least.

  21. I’m with Anon in that it seems to me that the data we have so far just don’t support the idea that it was working-class or poorer voters shifting support to Trump who caused him to win. As they didn’t – they went for Clinton in higher numbers than higher-income voters. However, insofar as education is a proxy for class, there it does seem that the more education someone’s had, the less they inclined to Trump, other factors being equal. So in that way the data are ambiguous.
    The data on white people, men and women, going for Trump in relatively high numbers seem much less ambiguous to me. Is there any mystery to it? White women, qua white, are privileged and have motivations to hold on to that, whether consciously recognised or not. OK, qua women, you might think, they have grounds not to vote Trump. But on many accounts of intersectionality factoring out the ‘woman’ from the ‘white’ part is impossible. If whiteness completely shapes one’s experience of being a woman, there’s a potential reason why the white privilege could trump (excuse pun) any abstract gender case one might have against Trump.
    NB, I’m white, female, and live in the UK.

  22. Several women I know are strong and vocal Trump supporters. They identify as Christian long before they identify as women. The men Trump supporters I know also are Christian first and foremost. Most are well or reasonably well educated if we measure by number of their undergrad and grad degrees. These people are all deeply involved in education, law, politics, volunteer work, in general, deeply involved in their communities. Those communities are *already* so carefully circumscribed (ie, segregated, mainly (but not solely) by race) that my friends are pretty completely oblivious to how narrow their community involvement and outreach extends. The other most noticeable factor about my Trump-supporting friends is that even if as children they grew up in families with moms who had outside jobs, when they married and started their own families significantly more of the moms stay or stayed home. Several of these moms ‘home school’ their children, further reducing exposure to differences and reaffirming the oddly narrow view of community. But either I would risk my friendship with them if I proclaimed myself a feminist, or I’d be scooped up in a hug and told “oh, you were always like that!” And in any case, they (and their children) would continue to pray for my soul. Yours too!

    One point which quelled their Trump fervour a little was Trump’s attack on a woman they know and love. That seemed to ‘bring home’ to them something of what people on this blog see in Trump.

  23. One thing seems to me is that Democratic policies aimed at promoting fair treatment for people who are disadvantaged don’t seem to be doing much for women as such. It looks like the focus has moved on to immigrants, gay, and trans people, has stuck with racial and ethnic minorities, but left women behind.

    So, the most visible legal cases involving affirmative action concern preferential treatment of minorities for admission to college and graduate professional programs. And women are suing, opposed to affirmative action programs which, they believe, benefit minorities at their expense. In the meantime, women still face gross discrimination in employment and there is no visible effort to set that straight. The class action suit against Walmart for gender discrimination, involving 2 1/2 million women was hardly noticed, and sunk.

    Maybe (straight) white women no longer recognize that they are disadvantaged because policies aimed at promoting social justice no longer recognize women as such as seriously disadvantaged or effectively promote fairness in employment, where it matters. ‘Pussy grabbing’ is trivial. Big deal–some lout groped you. Abortion isn’t that important: it’s easier to avoid an unplanned pregnancy than it is to avoid pink-collar work. And you can always put up a baby for adoption, leave it at a hospital emergency room no questions asked, or sell it. For most women however it is still impossible to get traditional ‘men’s jobs’ or to avoid pink-collar work.

  24. If Trump voters are persistently as racially resentful and ill informed as the likes of hbaber, that would explain a lot.

    Women — namely, white women — have been the greatest beneficiaries of affirmative action (never mind that some women are also “minorities”).

    http://www.vox.com/2016/5/25/11682950/fisher-supreme-court-white-women-affirmative-action

    Also, no facts — from wealth and income inequality to police violence — support the contention that the Democrats have “stuck with racial and ethnic minorities, but left [white] women behind.” Indeed, the white-black wealth gap has been widening.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2015/03/26/the-racial-wealth-gap-why-a-typical-white-household-has-16-times-the-wealth-of-a-black-one/#7f59a8a86c5b

    https://www.thenation.com/article/the-average-black-family-would-need-228-years-to-build-the-wealth-of-a-white-family-today/

    Such information is readily available via a five-minute Internet search. At some point, white ignorance is willful — which is how it remains impervious to incontrovertible evidence.

  25. Anon’,

    The “under $50k” group was won handily by Clinton, but much less so than by Obama – who in 2012 won it by 22 points.. Demographics, and third part candidates surely played a role, but having that cut in half likely made the biggest difference, since we’re talking about 36% of the electorate.

    Clinton did marginally better (4 points, I think) overall with white women.

  26. Scuse me, Anon. I am not ‘racially resentful’. I support affirmative action, with hard quotas, for minorities as well as women in both education and employment. What I am not seeing however is affirmative action of any kind deployed to ameliorate ongoing discrimination and sex segregation the employment. Look at these BLS statistics: http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat11.htm There are job titles where the percentage of women is so low that it isn’t even reported and no efforts, as far as I can see, to make it possible for women to get these jobs. Forget about affirmative action: we aren’t even seeing any attempt to use passive non-discrimination regulations to see to it that women aren’t locked out of those jobs—as we currently are.

    I’m horrified, and angry, when I see women opposing affirmative action, suing to get places at colleges and in professional programs. But I can understand why. Women’s disadvantages in the labor market are no longer recognized or addressed, so lots of white women no longer recognize that they are disadvantaged, and that they should for self-interested reasons throw in their lot with racial minorities and other disadvantaged groups and support affirmative action and other policies that promote fairness.

    And, yeah, elite white women and white aspirants to elite status, like the women suing for admission to elite universities and professional programs, challenging affirmative action, are doing just fine. But most women, including most white women who do not have college degrees, are locked out of all but pink-collar jobs. I’m not ‘racially resentful’. I resent Big Feminism, dominated by elite white women, for abandoning the effort to make it possible for the majority of women, who are not graduates of elite colleges, to break out of the pink-collar occupational ghetto. I resent Big Feminism for focusing on social and sexuality issues, and ignoring ‘horizontal’ sex segregation in employment.

  27. To your last point Anon’,

    While it seems a bit rich for whites, including white women, to complain about being left behind economically – given the things you mention – it’s a bit more complicated. A case can be made that white women have done worse than others since the recession (white men worse still). Here are the employment numbers from October 2007 to October 2016, according to the BLS.

    The historical tables are here:

    http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsatabs.htm (A-2 and A-3)

    White women + 650K (+1.2%)*
    White men – 70K
    Blacks + 2113K (+13.2%)
    Asians + 2519K (+36.7%)
    Hispanics + 4849K (+23.6%)

    There’s also some reason to think that the wages of blacks and Hispanics have outpaced those of whites, as this story suggests:

    http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2016/10/20/black-workers-see-fastest-wage-growth-in-more-than-15-years/

    A reasonable response might well be, “it’s about time”. And much of the gains are at risk, coming so late in the business cycle (increasing interest rates threatening to slow the expansion). But it’s not a shock that some people feel left out here.

    *If my math is correct. The White numbers do not include people 16-19 years old, but that absence actually makes these numbers look better than they really are. These numbers do not take into account population changes.

  28. If I can step in here, I hope we can keep the discussion a bit more generous. It sounds as if there is at least a little overlap in these views, at least insofar as there is a shared recognition that the beneficiaries of affirmative action and much feminist attention are too constricted and narrow. If that’s right, maybe that’s a more useful place to start? (In haste… but I’m hoping the conversation doesn’t go off the rails.)

  29. Start here: In Defense of Affirmative Action Old, but not out of date since the male-female wage gap and women’s prospects in the labor market have not improved significantly since it was written.

    Workplace issues are what matter—the issues on which the most utility for the most people depend. The work you do determines your social status, your economic status, and most importantly how you spend the better part of your days. Discrimination, against women and minorities is a fact of life. The data on implicit bias is robust. (I get students to take the IAT and suggest that others do likewise) The only effective response is through the aggressive enforcement of non-discrimination regulations and, I’d argue, aggressively enforced affirmative action policies for both women and minorities.

    What I find most disturbing is that currently feminism is conceived of as a social or ‘lifestyle’ issue rather than an economic issue. That’s what gotta change. What really matter for women and minorities, as for white working class males, are economic and workplace issues.

  30. Apologies for the tone of my previous comment, Prof Manners, was thinking about other millenials from my own neck of the woods and went on a tangent. I moved to a very progressive city a few years back and was a bit shocked – it looked so glamorous from the outside!

    I had been away from civilization for 18 months, and upon arrival I quickly noticed that all the young women were adeptly speaking some unfamiliar academic-sounding jargon. I figured I didn’t understand it because I hadn’t properly read any continental philosophy, and it seemed to confirm my suspicion that everyone who grew up here was probably incredibly sophisticated and cultured and well-read. Even the teenage girls were up to speed. I was pretty awestruck.

    But no, turns out it was all just stuff that was trending on social media, including a giant secret feminist Facebook group, with one thousand plus members, which all the cool girls from the cool part of town were in on, and were forbidden to tell other girls about. Friends would even conceal it from friends, fearing that their own position would be less secure if they were to nominate someone inarticulate/out of the loop who might then start posting embarrassing comments.

    Then there is the massive Facebook roommate-wanted group, featuring ad after ad – “no racist, sexist, homophobe, xenophobe. environmentally conscious. must be vegan.” i.e. – “prospective roommates must agree with me 100%.”

    Combine that insularity with the disastrous belief in a moral duty to emphatically “call out” white men and other white women (while being careful to shrink and dissemble around minorities) and you get a complete communication breakdown.

    I remember when the women against feminism youtube meme popped up, listening to a couple of female friends express their disgust to hear those ungrateful morons betray womankind, and I tried to slip in an observation that most of the women defectors were upset at having been treated rudely/dismissively on some occasion by a person claiming to speak for feminism. I won’t make that mistake again – they tore me a new one!

    Meanwhile, I can’t seem to get these socially conscious young white women to stop blathering on about how offensive white guys with dreadlocks are every time one is spotted, because I’m Afro-Carribean and so am supposed to be very hurt by this so-called cultural appropriation. They practically beg me to indulge in a bit of contempt and indignation. Haters and downers.

    I think we should give millennial white women activists the rest of the year off. They’re plenty eager, but they appear to have a very poor empathic accuracy. Let’s hear from moms instead. Everyone listens to moms. People like stories, and humour, not spluttered jargon and primal screaming.

  31. (last post, I don’t want to abuse the platform)
    (1) Looking at ‘white women voted trump’ is like looking at “black men in prison”, skin color and gender are often just mediated variables—only relevant as markers for something else. Some comments offer critiques that merely point back to gender, which to my mind is a non-explanation. So a basic, though relevant, point: 92% of Trump voters identify as Repubs, and a similar number will show up for ‘white women’ trump voters. It is an obvious correlation, but nonetheless important.

    (2) If I’m right that we should treat “white women” as a mediated variable, then we can ask: mediated by what and why and what should we do? Here are some candidates [A] political identification, [B] Issue relevance (i.e. terrorism, sexism, gov’t corruption, etc.), [C] education, [D] religion, [E] Income

    (3) The strongest indicators for Trump-voters from the data are [2A]+[2B], which IMO has to involve an explanation through [2C] and [2D]. So if (wo)men/feminists want to deal with the White Women Problem, it is a matter of seeing why they identify as Repubs and with issues like terrorism, gov’t corruption, immigration, and NOT with issues like black lives matter, feminism, LGBT.. Explaining these phenomenon turns us to topics like American Christianity (especially evangelical) and anti-science culture.. and to repeat from previous posts, I think it might also point to a sort ‘disconnect’ between Campus Feminism and non-educated (working class) women.

    (4) This last point addresses the OP’s question: where is feminism? Well, it ain’t in the repub base, it ain’t in those evangelical sermons, it ain’t where uneducated (working class) or anti-science(religious motivated?) folks frequent. If we want to look at ‘internal criticism’, maybe feminists aren’t addressing the right issues. If we want to look at ‘external criticisms’, maybe these non-feminists are led astray by their tribal ties: pastors, parents, work friends, and so on.

    (5) But more could be said about the femin—JK. I’m done rambling.

  32. Dyami, that is the best organized blog comment ever! I feel like I can mentally construct flow charts of “white women” with it, though it also lays out more plainly the various points where things pull apart. I think at least some of my own puzzlement results from just underestimating the pull of the mediating elements. E.g., the women I know who are Christian, including some evangelicals, have strong views about what moral treatment of women requires and Trump isn’t it. This is similar to my point above about “That Guy” for working women. In both cases, there are salient women-centered (if not “feminist” per se) issues raised that I would have predicted to be more important. If anything, I would have thought Trump’s persona would, if only briefly, unite many more white women with greatly divergent views in at least the overlap of disdaining *this* sort of man. A feminist turn provoked by Trump, if you will. That obviously didn’t happen. Now what’s got me curious is that, taken together, some of the comments here seem to go beyond noting the lack of a feminist turn and suggest something stronger – as if there is a *rejection* of feminism embedded in the acceptance of Trump by some white women – e.g., hbaber’s critique of the class issues neglected or Anonymous’s sense that campus feminism alienates. If that’s in play, it’s something even stronger than I would have expected.

  33. OMG, I thought I’d made it clear that I didn’t either accept Trump, or reject feminism. And I wasn’t suggesting that white women who supported Trump rejected feminism but that Feminism had rejected feminism, the doctrine that men and women should have the same options at the same costs, especially in the labor market.

    My constructive proposal is that feminists should get back to the old time religion. Forget about the pussy-grabbing and trash-talking. Big deal. Push for the aggressive enforcement of anti-discrimination regulations, and for affirmative action. I’m especially disturbed about Trump’s proposal for paid maternity, not parental, leave. This will put women at a disadvantage and induce many to take on the primary responsibility for child care. What we should unite against is not Trump’s persona but the policies that he will promote. I want my feminism back.

  34. Sorry, hbaber. I was unclear. I didn’t take you or Anonymous to be rejecting feminism or accepting Trump. I took you both as I think you intended – to be remarking on shortcomings in how feminism addresses (or fails to address) broad swaths of women. I.e., it’s a dispute about what feminism ought to be prioritizing or, minimally, addressing better. Didn’t mean to characterize you otherwise!

  35. Meh. White American women talk too much. tl;dr :P
    I’m disgusted that Trump will be Prez too, but for different reasons. Hillary won. Did you blabbering white women hear that? HILLARY WON! BY 500 000 votes.

    We don’t need to wring our hands over intersectional this and class and Rust Belt cracker redneck politics that (I loved your goat pics, tho lol. )

    What we need to do is get the electoral college to give Hillary the 60 votes that should rightfully be hers, if this electoral college thingie is supposed to be fair.

    Not to jack your thread or anything, but when did you stop doing things like country folk? Cut to the point, ma’am. Do you think it’s possible for us to change the electoral college vote so that Hillary can claim the victory that is rightfully hers on December 19th?

  36. Not sure if it will help, but I have a petition here with over 4 million signatures, urging the electoral college to cast their votes to reflect the popular vote on December 19th. Hillary should be the one working with President O to prepare for her inauguration right now. Not that horrid reality tv star.

    https://www.change.org/p/electoral-college-electors-electoral-college-make-hillary-clinton-president-on-december-19?recruiter=430826898&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_term=des-lg-share_petition-reason_msg

  37. Anonymous,
    I can’t help putting these two together: “White American women talk too much” AND “ when did you stop doing things like country folk?” Ha! Maybe, I’m too at home with manure? Really, though, I have to say: country people talk. Leave-taking requires hours on the porch and if you want to say something, best go verbally around the pasture several times on the way!

    I don’t know that I have any insight into what’s possible next. I think the powers that could shift away from the electoral vote are not aligning. Maybe others have more insight? I’m thinking we’re stuck with this…

  38. I’d be really interested in what the contributors to this discussion think about Emily Crockett’s explanation of female Trump voters in terms of the way hostile and benevolent sexism interact: http://www.vox.com/identities/2016/11/15/13571478/trump-president-sexual-assault-sexism-misogyny-won

    Benevolent sexism is understood in terms of a mafioso protection racket (note that male lions only protect female lions, who do all the work, from other male lions; Crockett basically argues that humans social organization isn’t that different). And Crockett argues that sorts of reasons that determine that people’s positive views about benevolent sexism tracks victim blaming also explain why victims of sexism would vote for Trump.

    It’s depressing, but I think plausible.

  39. We’re stuck with it. The electoral college isn’t going to support Hillary Clinton, and if it did it would risk civil war, literally.

  40. Eek. Why did the system log me in as anonymous? Both of those comments were mine, btw. Civil war? I doubt it. Only half of eligible voters bothered this time around.

    And civil war would be better than war with the other nations Trump has maligned, no? If he stays in office, I just hope the Chinese are as forgiving as the fluffy women who voted for the creep.

  41. there are salient women-centered (if not “feminist” per se) issues raised that I would have predicted to be more important. If anything, I would have thought Trump’s persona would, if only briefly, unite many more white women with greatly divergent views in at least the overlap of disdaining *this* sort of man. A feminist turn provoked by Trump, if you will. That obviously didn’t happen.

    Again, I’m not surprised. Life is tough and all of us, not just working class Americans, have to make trade-offs. Look at the shit that most of us had to put up with to get through grad school, to get jobs, to get tenure. One of my junior colleagues felt that he had to (1) have lunch with me at a tacky Greek buffet, making pleasant conversation, and (2) take a 25 mile bike ride with me.

    Trump is vulgar, disgusting, and insulting to women. Getting catcalled and groped is unpleasant. But you have to deal with nasty people and put up with shit to get achieve your ends. As far as voting goes, rational choosers vote for the outcome they think their choice will bring about—not of the person. If I thought St. Francis would get me what I wanted, I’d vote for St. Francis; if I thought Ghengis Khan would get me what I wanted, I’d vote for Ghengis Khan. The end justifies the means. Character doesn’t matter: a candidate is nothing more than a cog in the machine for delivering results and results are all that matter.

    That said, I think that most women (and men) who voted for Trump were seriously mistaken in thinking that he’d deliver the results they wanted. Women should certainly have taken his sexist remarks as evidence that he wouldn’t deliver. And, within the next 4 years, I fully expect the shit to hit the fan. The irrational voters, however, are those who voted against Trump because he was nasty and had bad attitudes, against Hillary because they thought she was inauthentic and crooked and, in the past, for Dubya because they’d rather have a beer with him than with Al Gore.

  42. @Xena:

    We have just seen six straight nights of anti-Trump protests in dozens of cities, with tens of thousands of people involved, against a backdrop of 1/3 of Democratic voters saying they don’t accept Trump as the legitimate President, even as Obama and Clinton exhort the country to do so.

    Imagine the level of Democratic anger and action if Clinton had won the Electoral College (while losing the majority vote) and then the electors voted for Trump. Democratic voters would (rightly) not accept that; there would be millions of people in the streets supported by most Democratic politicians, massive strikes, and surely violence.

    Now consider how that would play out in your scenario, where it’s Trump rather than Clinton who had the election snatched from him by the electors. This is a man who refused to commit to accepting the result even if he’d lost the normal way. There is no way he would accept the result in this scenario (not that I could blame him!) He would be actively calling his followers onto the streets, and millions would come, with the backing of pretty much every elected GOP official. Hundreds of thousands would be armed. Huge numbers would buy into the NRA conception of the Second Amendment as being more than anything else about the right of the people to overthrow a tyrannical government. It would be optimistic not to expect serious violence and disorder, beyond the capabilities of the police to contain. Are Republican governors, themselves up in arms about the events, really going to call the National Guard out on them? If there are mass marches on Washington to disrupt the inauguration, can lame-duck-President Obama really manage enough authority, in the teeth of massive congressional resistance, to deploy force to maintain order in the capital? Will the states accept it? Will the military leadership? Will the rank and file? I have no clue how the details would play out and neither does anyone else, but *at the very least* there is a risk – I’d say an active likelihood – of a real breakdown of the authority of the Federal government over the country and a really massive level of violence.

    Or rather: there’s virtually no risk, because Hillary Clinton is a small-d democrat and a small-r republican, and a patriot, and would never accept the presidency in circumstances like this.

  43. SRSLY DW? Hillary has been working toward this dream of OURS her entire adult life. And as I was saying, I think the Chinese are a much more frightening enemy than an army of rednecks with guns shooting at anything that stands out against their beer goggles.

    The police will put that nonsense down. They always do. An official Civil War can only come with the right signatures in place. Whose signatures were those again? The president and the senate? lol

    How old are you anyway? I bet you’re not even old enough to remember the LA riots. Hillary is XD

    And FYI, I’m Canadian. You don’t want to push away your closest allies, guise.
    js

  44. Surely by focusing on “us” white women, you risk ignoring what most white women have which no other demographic has to any significant extent, i.e. that white women mostly live in very close proximity to white men: an increasing number of whom are trending rightwards in their views / behaviour. White male supremacists (WMS) are no longer a subdued minority.

    The reason I am posting on this thread and bringing WMSs into the picture is I believe a significant proportion of the Trump-voting women will have had their vote controlled by a husband/partner/father or other WMS in their home.

    This is my hypothesis.
    I have an idea as to how my hypothesis could be tested.
    I am not a philosopher. I am a politician.
    This post will be 9/10ths explanation as to why I think my hypothesis is valid and my experience qualifies me to speak and 1/10th how I think the hypothesis might be tested, so please skip to the end if you don’t want to slog-the-biography-bit.

    As a (UK Labour Party) political activist for over 30 years I have met countless people on their doorsteps to ask them how life is going for them, to understand how they might vote and try to persuade them to vote Labour.
    I’ve stood in a county election, a general election and in 2010 was elected as a City councillor.
    In two of the elections there was a candidate who was a member of a right-wing party (UKIP), and in one case, a far-right party ( the British National Party), so racism, immigration and anti-minority-groups were very much needing addressing on the doorstep.

    I did not re-seek election in 2014 because of progressive Glaucoma affecting my sight, but I’m still politically connected/active with both my local Party and with the new Women’s Equality Party, whose policies for women’s equality are better than those of the Labour Party.

    Whilst a councilor I was the Council’s representative with the City’s Women’s Refuge, because I’m involved with women’s groups re violence against women. I was also the City’s Chair of Licensing Committee and I initiated the policy/legal moves to ensure the City’s lap dancing club was eventually put in a position where the Council could (in a way safe from judicial review) refuse to renew its license, and no new clubs would be likely to get given a license My action at first ran counter to my own Party, whose Leader (male) and most of the men councilors refused to back me, saying it would make our Party the “laughing stock” of the City. Women cannot assume that left-wing men will be supportive of women’s issues.

    As a politician I have used social media politically for six years. Over the last 2 years the amount of ‘trolling’ by far-right men has risen considerably; especially towards the feminist twitter account I also run.

    I am also an independent advisor on gender equality to our regional police force. In this role I meet similar independent advisors representing race, sexual orientation, and other protected characteristics. My point in explaining this is that I have gained insights into hate-crimes; of which misogyny famously is still not counted and my battle with our local police and (along with others) the UK Home Office continues..

    From experience I’ve seen that where you have even one white supremacist being vocal/active in a City there are many more who covertly buy into it. The areas in which they are most visible / active / vocal have an associated higher level of hate crime / racist graffiti, etc.
    From my experience in canvassing / doorstepping across our City I find a difference in the response from women in those areas where there is an overt right-wing presence: window-stickers or garden stakes featuring the name of the right-wing candidate, and usually also racist/sexist graffiti and gang-tags

    So: how to test the hypothesis that white women are more likely to vote against their own interest in areas where right-wing white men, and especially WMSs are more prevalent?
    Are there, amongst those who are data-crunching the US 2016 election, any who can identify areas where the voting ratio Clinton / Trump of white women can be reliably matched against reports of hate crimes in that area? Did proportionally more women vote for Trump in high hate-crime /high graffiti / gang-tag areas?

    This is not without problems. Hate crime is always far higher than the officially recorded figure for hate crime in an area.

    It also presumes that right-wing white men and especially WMSs do control the way ‘their’ women vote.

  45. Amy Alexander, at The Root, writes:

    I’m on the record—unironically, and without snark—as saying that many of my best friends are white women…. But it is obvious that millions of white women whom I probably would not ever have identified as racist or even “racism-blind” betrayed me and mine by voting for Trump.

    And adding to the disillusion I am now experiencing is that fact that many of the white women…were stealthy if not downright deceptive about their reasons….

    In black America, the shorthand for women who harbor virulent fear and resentment of black people—however covertly it is expressed here in the 21st century—are known as “Miss Anns.” It is our not-so-secret vernacular description of white women who were the wives, sisters, daughters and mothers of slave owners in the Deep South.

    This figure, and her sometimes sly, always pernicious way of expressing her fear and resentment of blacks, is a recurring theme in black American literature, because Miss Ann was with us hundreds of years before Barack Obama….

    If you’ve ever read Zora Neale Hurston or Maya Angelou, you have seen this reference. If you viewed the Academy Award-winning film 12 Years a Slave, you have seen the “Miss Ann” type embodied in the terrific performance of Sarah Anne Paulson as Mary Epps, the wife of the owner of a plantation where the protagonist, Solomon Northup, was held….

    The patriarchal motif looms large in attempts to answer the question of what white female supporters hope to gain by voting for Trump. It isn’t strictly a zero-sum game of reaping “gains” per se, as much as it is holding ground that some white women perceive as being theirs alone: The white women who approved of Trump as leader of the free world are betting on his ability to preserve their protected status….

    I have had my own run-ins with variations of the Miss Ann effect over the years. I just never considered that any women in my sphere—in my age, occupational or education cohort—might do such a damaging thing as vote for Trump….

    http://www.theroot.com/articles/politics/2016/11/miss-anns-revenge/

  46. @Xena:

    In trying times, it is at least a small comfort to me that we will not get to test which of us is right about the stability of US democracy!

  47. anon’, that article is heartbreaking in how it captures the lost trust all this represents, one-to-one between women.

  48. I’ve found from my own experience that poor white women who stand to lose a great deal by voting conservative (eg: cuts to food programs, health benefits, parental leaves and allowances, etc.) tend to vote against their own best interests bc they’re swayed by pro-life rhetoric.

    It’s just that simple in their view. “Those Liberals are ‘baby killers.'” Or so they tell me…

  49. I feel manifestly absurd butting into this thread with something so irrelevant to the main thrust, but to Xena:

    If you buy into the premises ‘an abortion is the killing of an innocent, human being’ and ‘the killing of an innocent human being is murder’ (neither of which are, to my mind so obviously prima facie stupid that we could regard someone as a moron for taking them seriously), and you just go through the consequences of these premises, one of the first and most salient results you’ll come to is that Western democracies are currently engaged in the single largest state-sponsored mass murder of all time, an auto-genocide dwarfing the worst excesses of Stalin and Mao by orders of magnitude. Having come to this conclusion it would be not just reasonable but morally required of you to cast your vote ignoring basically every other issue, even things which seemed much more germane to your own interests, in order to try to stop it or at least limit it, or even just in order to avoid formally cooperating with it.

    So, ‘liberals are baby-killers’ is a reason to vote republican with which I have much more sympathy than most other things frequently suggested to me as reasons to do so, most of which seem to me to pale into utter insignificance in comparison to climate (and to a lesser extent matters of economic justice).

    To be clear, my own position isn’t that abortions are murders (though not for very standard reasons), or that one should vote republican on that basis; merely that if you genuinely have that concern, it would be eminently rational (as you say, “just that simple”) to vote against your own percieved best interest on the basis of it.

    This being so, it might be worth a) rethinking how people on the pro-abortion side of the thing frame and distribute their arguments; or even b), depending on how you weigh the importance of the issues involved, having the mainstream democratic party take a more conservative stance on abortion in favour of trying to bring those people round on issues of economic justice and so on.

    Yours un-usefully,
    Lambton

  50. I think there is a lot to be said for the outcome of this election. I was certainly surprised by the statistics – 53% of white women voted for Trump. White women got women’s suffrage in 1920 after years of protesting (Alice Paul and the Silent Sentinels silently protested every day for 2-3 years in front of the White House (with a lot of jail time and abuse). Alice Paul also continued to work to get the Equal Pay Act of 1963 AND Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which was huge for outlawing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It also ended unequal voter registration which opened up voting for black women completely).

    But.. somewhere in the 70s they just stopped. They became completely compliant. You have women who are most likely very comfortable at home and you have women who are working their buts off as professionals. I think that is where we see the majority of the 43%(professionals) and 53%(comfortable living situation) is at. I also feel that white women are in a bit of a rough spot in terms of activism. Right now we have people who have “triggers”, we have the fat acceptance movement, we have colleges who have “safe spaces” for students who feel like they are being treated unfairly, etc. I think these have damaged the reputation of white activists in particular. I believe that in the next couple of years there will be a real evaluation of what is actually important and we will see a shift.

  51. Agree emphatically with thewhiteamericanwoman. Feminism in the US has lost its way:

    (1) Lost interest in the core economic issues—which aren’t just a problem for working class women. The male-female wage gap for full-time year-round workers in almost every occupational category—not just non-college grad jobs— has been stuck since the 1990s.

    (2) Focused instead on social and sexuality issues which many don’t consider as important—or important at all.

    (3) Promoted a sort of traditional femininity in the worst sense: trigger warnings, safe-spaces, agonies over ‘micro-aggressions’—ultra-sensitivity and mandatory niceness. No talking dirty, no playing rough, no fighting in the schoolyard. This really gets people’s backs up, represents feminists as goody-goody school marms, and creates backlash.

    (4) Featuring abortion as the signature feminist issue.

    Years ago NOW ran a wonderful TV ad. It showed a man across a desk talking to a new hire. ‘You have terrific qualifications’, he says,’your education, experience, test scores great: you’re just the kind of person we’re looking for!………Of course we start all our girls in the typing pool’. Pan to crestfallen woman on the other side of the desk.

    What’s needed is an updated version of that pitch.

  52. Yes Lambton. Their thinking makes me scratch my head, too.

    I’ll bow out of this discussion before it gets jacked, tho. My pro-choice arguments are aaaaall over this blog, going back to 2010 and earlier. No need to rehash them. I was just throwing out the key reason that conservative women have always given me for their voting habits.

    Of course there are other reasons. I’ll be watching with interest while they’re discussed here.

  53. Hello again,

    I think I agree with the sentiment that current mainstream US feminism has lost interest in core issues of economic injustice and that this is problematic for all sorts of reasons; but I think it’s also problematic to think that what’s happened is just that a feminism that used to have the right idea has drifted off the straight and narrow.

    (It’s relevant to my position here that I’m British and thus have a living tradition of socialism in which to situate myself to more of an extent than you folks over in the states.)

    Mainstream feminism in the west has more or less always had a pretty rocky relationship with socialism and serious concern for economic justice more generally. Sylvia Pankhurst was not the popular Pankhurst. Margaret Thatcher in some sense represents a pinnacle achievement of British feminism and was a disaster for working-class women. Even the kind of TV ad which hbaber mentions doesn’t have a mass to say to the women at the bottom of the pile: they aren’t the people with the excellent test scores and the work experience. Solidarity between the women who have the most economic and social capital and who are thus the most able to make themselves heard and to have their concerns taken up by the society around them, and the women whose voices are erased for further reasons on top of their being women, has always been knocking around in feminist theory here and there, but as far as I can tell it’s never been reliably present in the actual practice of ‘mainstream feminism’.

    I don’t disagree with you that a refocusing is necessary. I just think that the phenomenon of working-class women being left behind by mainstream feminism, and feminism focusing on social issues relevant to its elite at the expense of concern with economic justice, is hardly a new one; and if you can achieve the necessary refocusing not only in theory, but actually in how mainstream feminists act and vote, you won’t be going back to the old feminism. I hope you manage it, though.

    Perhaps I am wrong, but that’s how it looks to me.

    In friendship,
    Lambton

  54. I agree with Lambton—with qualifications…

    (1) I was responding to what appears to be a widely held assumption that economic and employment issues are primarily, if not exclusively, concerns for working class women. Male-female wage gaps and glass ceilings persist for all occupations.

    (2) I’m most certainly a democratic socialist—and if there was a Socialist Party listed in my state for which I could register, I’d tick that box. But I don’t think that feminism as such should be associated with any larger political package, or with a range of other preoccupations that are at best of tangential interest to concerns specific to women. I don’t think this is strategically effective—specialization is efficient. And I don’t buy ‘intersectionality’.

    (3) The focus on abortion, now perceived as the signature issue for feminism, has been disastrous. And I say this as a pro-choice advocate.

    (4) Worst of all, affirmative action, has been misconstrued as a ‘diversity’ issue rather than a means for ameliorating ongoing discrimination in the labor market. The data on implicit bias is robust and beyond that plain old intentional discrimination persists. Passive non-discrimination regulations are ineffective and blind review isn’t feasible in most circumstances. The most effective way to make it possible for women to get a fairer shake in the job market—and the ABSOLUTELY ONLY WAY to enable women to get into traditionally male blue collar jobs—is through the rigorous enforcement of affirmative action policies with hard quotas.

    Take a look at the statistics at the BLS site: the male-female wage gap is virtually universal and sex segregation in a wide range of occupations—especially working class pink and blue collar jobs—is almost complete. And have a look at Barbara Bergmann’s classic In Defense of Affirmative Action—written in the 1990s but (check the BLS site) not a whole lot has changed since then.

  55. Clearly we agree on a lot of this and where we don’t, this thread isn’t the place to bash through it.

    Good luck on the regeneration of American feminism! Given the general rise of people apparently caring about economic justice, this is probably the best opportunity for it there’s been in many years.

    Lambton

  56. Let me repeat: what has mainstream feminism done for me? What has the left done for me? I have been trashed.

    As a woman, unless I snag that elusive brass ring, unless I am one of that small elite, I am restricted to a narrow range of pink-collar jobs. I have a lot of guys working on my house: exterminators, gardeners, handymen, roofers. As a woman, I could not even be considered for any of those jobs and mainstream feminism hasn’t helped. And Obama hasn’t helped.

    I go through the check out counter where women are scanning my groceries, I go to offices at my university where women are doing clerical work, I deal with someone at a call center. I know that if I hadn’t lucked out, if I hadn’t been one of that tiny percent of women who escape pink-collar shit work, that is what I’d be doing. Otherwise there is no escape: I couldn’t get a job as an exterminator, gardener, handyman, roofer, etc. or at any other blue collar occupation.

    Why do women vote for Trump’s ‘benevolent sexism’? Because it beats the current malevolent sexism. It is much, much, endlessly much better to be a housewife than to be a supermarket checker, a call center worker, a clerical worker. You bet that if I had the chance I’d prefer not to work outside the home since for women like me work outside the home means agonizingly boring womenshit. Why is this so hard to understand. If I could have made a career as a housewife, without any fear that I’d have to work outside the home ever, I’d have done it. But realistically that isn’t available to most women.

    So, Left, if you want to win me over fix it so that I won’t be trapped in pink collar drudge work, so that I can get a job driving a tow truck, working construction, driving heavy equipment, etc. And, sorry guys, I do very well know what it is to do physically exhausting, dirty, dangerous work but yes I and lots of other women would choose it over constrained, tedious womanshit. And if you envy us, I’m sure you can get this tedious clerical and service work. Enjoy.

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