deal or no deal: why white women vote for turds
Ted “The Gollum King” Cruz beat Beto “Literal Jesus” O’Rourke and the reason why absolutely should not surprise you.
Yep. Not surprising at all.
And yet, when progressive white women (“my people”) discovered that 59% of the women who look like them actually supported this human equivalent of the liquid that pools in your mouth right before you barf a meatball sub, a great cry echoed through the rolling hills of San Francisco…
… and down the storied avenues of Manhattan…
… and through the food truck rodeos of Austin…
… and that great and rending cry rattled the shelves of alternative milks in every artisanal small-batch roastery in the Pacific Northwest.
It makes no sense. Right?
Why would women vote for a man who hates women? Why do white women continue to vote AGAINST their own self-interests?
The 2-second response among progressive feminists is usually, “They’re stupid,” “Their internalized misogyny is showing,” or “They don’t think for themselves.”
But white women aren’t any more stupid than any other demographic, and while internalized misogyny and a desire to align our values with “our people” are definitely factors, let’s get 100% real here.
Want to know why white women voted for Ted “Shaved Ferret” Cruz? Want to know why we voted for Roy “Mall Creeper” Moore? Want to know why we voted for Donald “OHMYGODIHATEHISFACE” Trump and Ron “DeNutsack” DeSantis?
Want to know why white women consistently vote against their own self-interests?
This is why.
White women are women, but don’t forget: We are also white.
And it’s easier for a white woman to side with all white people than all women. It’s more comfortable to be a white person in America than a woman in America.
It’s time to talk about the white supremacist patriarchy again!
Stay with me!!! I know that “white supremacist patriarchy” probably ranks just above “bacterial vaginosis” on your “Opposite of Clickbait” list, but this is fucking important.
The seat of power in America has always been two things: male and white.
And the only thing white men love more than other white men (show me the lie) is white women. By virtue of our value to white men, white women have always had proximity to that white male seat of power. We have slept next to it in bed, walked down the aisle with it, birthed it, nourished it, educated it, packed its lunches, cleaned up its messes, baked for its funerals. Our proximity to that power has, at times, protected us and made us more comfortable. It has also, at times, wounded and abused us. You can argue about whether our proximity to power is a blessing or a curse, but you can’t argue its veracity. We might not have a seat, but we’re at the table. And we, white women, do NOT want to lose our spot.
How did we get that spot at the table? Susan B. Anthony threw freed slaves under the bus to ensure that white women got the vote before black men did. She argued that white women were smarter than black men, that black men were inherently ignorant, violent, and predatory… listen, truth time, Susie B. Tony was a pretty enthusiastic racist, and she was and continues to be a liberal feminist hero. So, there’s that.
Plot twist: I’m not sad that Susan B. Anthony spent her adult life fighting for my right to vote. Really not ungrateful for that. Really love voting. Reeeeeeeeeally wish she’d included some of my friends, though.
Susan B. Anthony is like the new friend from a new school who throws the killer Sweet 16 party and you show up with your best friend from your neighborhood and you’re on the list but your friend isn’t. Yes, you feel like, “Why not my friend, too, there’s plenty of room,” but there is also a small part of you that is still excited to have been invited to the party, and kind of mad at your friend for making it harder for you to go. Every white woman has that moment where she’s at the door, she turns around to look at her friend who isn’t on the list, and she makes her choice.
In 2016, 52% of us said “sorry get home safe love you bye,” and went into the party. In Texas, 59% of us ghosted on our sisters.
The suffragist movement picked the patriarchy over genuine inclusive feminism because at the time, the seat of power (white & male, remember) was only going to give one group (whites or males) the vote. The suffragists turned on the abolitionists because white men liked white women more than black people, and the white women won. Because of our proximity to power, and our value to white men, we got on the list.
We made it into the party.
We felt grateful.
We are still ghosting on our sisters.
As women surviving in a patriarchy, loyalty to our men is deeply engrained in our cultural identity. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were hella progressive and feminist, and to survive in the patriarchy, they said “fuck black people,” crossed back over the line, and stood next to their husbands, uncles, and dads, who said, “Good girls. Now you may vote.”
(Updated to add: yes, the 15th amendment was passed in 1870, before the 19th amendment (1920), but two things about that: First, the 15th amendment didn’t actually grant the right to vote for black men, but rather outlawed discrimination in voting. Congress didn’t follow up after the 15th amendment was passed (#SHOCKER), and the Southern states (and some Northern as well) immediately initiated systemic barriers to deny black men from voting, essentially removing the “right to vote” unless these men could pay a poll tax, pass a written exam, and endure physical violence and intimidation. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 finally made those barriers illegal.)
(Important to note that there is no written record of Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton saying, “fuck black people” in so many words. There are extensive written records of them being racist AF. Anyway, I bet suffragists swore like sailors. Or maybe sailors swore like suffragists. WE DON’T KNOW. History is written by the winners.)
In a place where the power sits in the hands of white men, white women are privileged in our race and oppressed in our sex. Our whiteness is an asset; our femaleness is a liability. And many, many of us have chosen to identify first and most with the part of our identity that is privileged: the white part. In that sense, voting with these woman-hating turds IS a vote in our self-interest, even as it's ALSO a vote for the ongoing dehumanization of our entire sex AND the oppression of people of color everywhere.
Think of it like a super fucked-up episode of Deal or No Deal, in which white women have to choose between a lifetime of eating dog biscuits, or a lifetime of eating pepper spray. If I had to play that game, I guess I'd rather be fed like a pet than outright attacked.
Listen, it’s just you and me here. You can be honest with yourself. It’s not hard for you to imagine why a lot of women are comforted by deepening their alignment with the most powerful demographic in our country, right? You wouldn’t call that move stupid, right? Cowardly, maybe. Short-sighted, sure. Apathetic and racist, absolutely. But it’s not a stupid move to stay at the right hand of power when that power keeps showing you that the alternative is the gutter.
If you think of populations as neighborhoods, white women live in an interesting spot.
White District is populated by white men who are trusted and “good” and presumed to be capable and wise and invited to go anywhere they want. There is a Crossfit and a killer burger spot on every corner
Now, Woman District is populated by people who spend their lives developing tools they can use in a lifetime of embodying antithesis: how to avoid violence without becoming violent; how to make themselves heard without making noise; how to defend themselves without getting defensive; how to take responsibility for other people’s actions without wielding any power over them; how to be everything to everyone at exactly the same time and nothing of consequence at all.
Now, white women live in a little village called White Woman Valley, which overlaps both White District and Woman District. We get access to Crossfit and Lululemon! We get pumpkin spice scones and sea salt bath bombs and toddler yoga! But we have to do those things while contorting ourselves into human contradictions, as mentioned above: Be strong and athletic at Crossfit, but not stronger or more athletic than the boys or the other pretty girls. Eat a scone; don’t get fat. Have babies; remain relevant to society.
All this to say, I get it. I would rather fly first-class, no-strings-attached too! If I never thought about anyone else, I would love to live in White District as a man full-time.
The alternative, to live in Woman District full-time and mingle with all different kinds of women? That gets complicated. As a white woman among white men, I’m a useful pet who needs to navigate a white man’s world to survive, and there are perks and drawbacks to that role. As a white woman among POC, I am an instrument of oppression and other people have to navigate MY world to survive. In other words,
If I’m dehumanized by the patriarchy,
I’m the dehumanizer in white supremacy.
And this is another shitty Deal-or-No-Deal situation: Would you rather get pepper sprayed or pepper spray someone else in front of this live studio audience?
Me, I’d rather get sprayed. Maybe because I’m genuinely nonviolent, but also because everyone will sympathize with me if I take a snootful of liquid fire to protect someone else, and everyone will hate me if I’m the one with my finger on the trigger, and my survival depends on people not hating me.
I can live with myself if someone hurts me; I can’t live with myself if I’m the one doing the hurting. Or more accurately, I won’t choose to live with people who tell me that I’m the one doing the hurting. I would be happier to live in the dark on that, I think.
Truth: White women support white voices in part because white people make other white people feel comfortable, and because amplifying a person of color could result in a much louder voice saying, “ALL WHITE PEOPLE ARE RACIST, YES EVEN THE ONES WHO VOTED FOR ME.”
It’s far too easy for me to imagine women with whom I disagree on feminist and social justice issues as well-coiffed doormats. In my low moments, I confess, I want to shake the stupid out of them and scream, Why aren’t you a feminist like me, you idiot bimbos?
(Did you catch that? Did you hear it? It was subtle, I know, but…)
Oof, Katie. Look out. Your internalized misogyny is showing. It's important for me to notice the way it's easier to punch across rather than up. That horizontal hostility is not an accident, and it's something that never ceases to purely enrage me, never more than when I notice it in myself.
You know how it makes you want to scream when a woman says that she only wants to be friends with guys because she "hates drama"? Or that she doesn’t wear slutty clothes because she wants guys to respect her? Or that she doesn't need feminism because she's got a good man? Any variation on the "I'm not like those OTHER GIRLS" narrative makes me want to karate-kick my way through the IKEA showroom.
It always sounds like her shitty older brother has his hand up her ass and is working her mouth like a sock puppet. Either that, or like he’s listening in the next room, dangling a bit of social power in front of her, which he’ll toss over if she’s sufficiently pleasing.
In other words:
No. He won’t.
He’ll treat you like a useful pet. Someone who comes when called. Someone who should be happy to curl up in the spot he designates for her. Someone he can take for walks around the neighborhood and encourage to shit on other people’s lawns.
He will never stop treating women like shit. You just showed him how to do it. Like a fucking pro.
This is how this division of white women continues to deepen: instead of engaging with each other and voting for our mutual freedoms, we are engaged in a battle between the familiar discomfort of the white supremacist patriarchy, and the unknowable change of anti-racist intersectional feminism, in which white women suit up, get out in the world, try to do the right thing until it gets too hard, and then head home to Daddy again.
Intersectionality and true social change is exhausting. It's seriously SO much easier to pick on other oppressed people. I think that’s one reason why so many of us white women clock out so often. We have Crossfit to get to in White District, where nobody is going to ask us to be anything but what we’ve always been, which is a useful helper to the guys who call the shots and who have assured us they aren’t going anywhere.
So maybe that's where we have to begin, white women.
Believe that they can go somewhere and we will be just fucking fine.
Believe that your whiteness isn't the most powerful thing in your corner. Believe that your womanhood, and the personhood of every woman out there, is worth fighting for. It's even worth voting for.
Stop voting for men who hate you. Stop voting for men who hate me. Stop voting for men who hate Beyoncé. That shit is so fucking wrong.
I know that the world has convinced you to think in binaries, that candidates either love your whiteness or your womanhood, and the ones who love your womanhood will hurt your men. I know that because we white women have spent our lives aligning ourselves with the white men who ARE the seat of power and who have extended their authority to protect us so long as we remain loyal, we’re scared of someone hurting our men. I know it's hard to envision a future without that particular monarch.
Throw away all of the social justice terminology and here’s the bottom line:
If white men voted to take care of you, Donald Trump would not be President.
If white men voted to take care of your daughters, Roy Moore would not have won 72% of the votes of white fathers of daughters (or potential fathers of daughters) in Alabama.
If white men cared about making the world safer for you, the Senate Judiciary Committee would never have even considered approving a SCOTUS justice with a history of alcohol abuse and sexual violence.
They will never, ever take care of you. They will protect you as far as they can kick you without anyone noticing.
They will keep you at the table like a useful pet.
This is the game we’ve always played. Fucked-Up Deal or No Deal, in which we're empowered to choose the nature of our pain, and the depth of our complicity in the pain of others: “What’ll it be today, Katie? Forced sterilization or forced pregnancy? You pick! #Feminism!” “School shooting or police murder of a black kid with a busted taillight? Tick tock, Katie. YOU GET TO CHOOSE.”
Some of us showed up to play for one team, some of us showed up to play for the other. But no matter which team you play for, you’re still participating in their fucking game.
We need to show up to rewrite the rules.
PS - Girlfriends, we have got to stop pushing other white women as far away from us as possible. You didn't vote for Donald Trump or Brian Kemp or Ted Cruz? OK but a shitload of people did and now those fuckers are going to shit on my life. Check yourself: Why does your reputation matter more than other people's lives? Don't #notallwhitewomen. Don't "But I'm not like them."
First of all, we haven’t earned any notable distance from the white women who haunt our statistical nightmares. Read about the seed of hostility in this post, and remember that the seed of hostility against POC has been planted in every single one of us. (BTW, #NotAllWhiteWomening is an act of hostility against POC.)
Second, if you’re not one of the 52% or the 45% or the 63% or whatever the fuck percent, then you’re not, and the more you try to convince people that you’re not, the less you’re actually making an impact on the world by NOT BEING THAT PERSON, does that make sense?
Like, if you read a poll that said 63% of white women were bicyclists, and you were like, “but I’m a swimmer,” would you still be a swimmer if you spent all your pool time walking around on dry land explaining that you NEVER ride a bike?
And third, if we read a poll that said 59% of white women stole food from a food bank for homeless children, would you:
a) Tell EVERYONE you met that day that YOU didn’t steal food from the food bank for homeless children and neither did YOUR FRIENDS.
b) Call the food bank to find out how you and your friends can help.