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.