On the White Women Who Voted for Trump

[Content Note: Racism; misogyny.]

This is a terrific piece by Amy Alexander on the racial motives of some number of the white women who voted for Donald Trump.
Exit-polling data from CNN tells the tale:

  • Total percentage of white women who voted for Trump: 42 percent;
  • White women ages 30-44 who voted for Trump: 42 percent;
  • White women ages 45-64 who voted for Trump: 53 percent;
  • Percentage of white women with college degrees who voted for Trump: 45 percent.

...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.

Whether they acknowledge it or not, white women do enjoy a higher rung on the social and economic order in the U.S. than do black and Latino women. The perceived "halo effect" of being in close proximity to powerful white men appears to be at the least a subtext of what drove some white women to vote for Trump.

I'm not qualified to make a deep dive into the history of psychosocial causal factors for why some white women apparently still harbor such virulent fear and resentment of black men. And it also must be said that by now, versions of this resentment are directed at black women. This dynamic likely did inform the decisions of millions of white women who voted for the GOP candidate Nov. 8.
All of this is spot-on. (And please click through to read the whole thing.) I also want to add that, in addition to the racism that may have motivated (or at least certainly wasn't a deal-breaker) for Trump voters, a deep misogyny was at work, too.

Some observers have already noted the internalized misogyny potentially at play, including Aphra, but we need to be honest about the overt misogyny expressed by lots of white women, too.

Particularly in the direction of Hillary Clinton.

In my experience, the women who are most likely to express overtly misogynistic statements about Clinton—she's a "horrible woman," a "bitch," and worse—are the women who share the most in common with her: White, cis, straight, Christian, married, mothers/grandmothers, with a career.

Now, to be abundantly clear, I'm not suggesting that women who are nonwhite, trans, queer, non-Christian, unmarried, not parents, and/or not doing paid work have never expressed overt misogyny toward Clinton. Nor am I suggesting that every white, cis, straight, married, moms doing paid work have expressed such.

After all, minus the Christian and parenting parts, I am one of those women. And I've spent as much time as anyone else (and way more than most) defending Clinton from misogyny.

What I am saying is that the women whose identities most closely align with Clinton's generally tend to be the ones from whom I've heard the most vicious naked misogyny. (This is about proportionality; not universality. There's no need to point out exceptions in comments. That would be derailing.)

This correlation is not a coincidence. Women are socialized to relate to each other competitively, and to regard each other with suspicion, as we are urged to see each other as competitors for the same limited resources.

And we are more subtly socialized to regard the women who are the most like us as our chief competitors.

Thus, women who share the most in common with Hillary Clinton are more likely to regard her with both suspicion and disdain. Which inevitably spoils into sour resentment, when she achieves things they have not.

What did that bitch ever do to deserve what she's got?

And one of the things women who internalize these views are disposed to resent is support, because it's one of the resources women, all women, are most likely to lack.

Intersectional feminism is the cure for many of these ills, but, as we are all too well aware, the majority of women are not intersectional feminists. And so, stuck with the divisive misogyny with which our patriarchal culture socializes us, they gaze at an ambitious and successful woman, who is buoyed by millions of enthusiastic supporters, and they boil over with resentment.

A toxic envy that she has something they believe they never will, because such resources for women (they believe) are finite. And she took too much for herself. Fucking cunt.

Worse, they saw her talking about what she would do for people of color, for LGBTQ folks, for disabled people. But what was she promising to do for white women? Lots, as it happens. But none of it sounded like she was promising to protect white women from those other people. (Because she wasn't.)

So here we are, at the intersection of racism and misogyny. Just like a lot of the white men who voted for Trump.

This shit is ugly. And it's going to take a long time and a lot of work to dismantle. But it starts with speaking frankly about what it is.

And the truth is, a lot of white women are rank misogynists. And they voted against Hillary Clinton, in part, because of that.

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