Dan Russo


What Are White Women So Afraid Of?

The 2018 midterm election was a slow burn as Tuesday's poll results crept in and anger, though not a surprise, surmounted us. As a Texan, I was championing Beto O'Rourke, the first Texas politician to stir up such a large cult following since Kinky Friedman in 2006. O'Rourke exuded what grace in 2018 looks like—he handled his punk-grunge past and run-ins with the law with honesty. If all politicians are bad, O'Rourke at least seems self-aware of his setbacks and how they'd expose Republicans' hesitancy, if not full-on disgust.

I counted on my family to discern O’Rourke, battling Ted Cruz, was unequivocally the better choice. The lesser of two evils. Outside of cities (now, even Dallas is near as blue as Austin), suburbs are split down the middle like a tug of war between conservatives and liberals. I thought we were all exhausted by the last two years of Trump's reign as a biot who pulls vocabulary straight from dictators and decries dissenters as "enemies of the state." It's a perilous time under an unpredictable despot, but there's still no doubt in white women's votes. Seemingly, they'd rather lead us into the inferno than elect a black man or woman, or God forbid, a white man espousing honest liberal policies including fair immigration reform. So what are white women so scared of? If Beyoncé, Obama, and Oprah’s (three celebrities with such a profound influence they only need go by one name) endorsements of progressive candidates can’t sweep white women to the left, I don’t know what can.

According to CNN's exit polls, a whopping 60 percent of white women voted for Cruz over O'Rourke. Cruz, a pro-life weenie whose only notable moment in the last year was when he got caught liking porn on Twitter, which was ironic considering his inability to allow women to make choices concerning their health and future. O’Rourke released a statement early this year promising to take leaps toward guaranteeing women's right to abortion. He went on to ensure, if elected, he would offer access to birth control, emergency contraception and affordable reproductive health services for cervical and breast cancer screenings and well-woman exams. White women aren't fooling anyone; they have to face the same excruciating, humiliating healthcare procedures women of color face and the same procedures a large portion of the LGBTQ community faces.

You can't vote against yourself as a woman and still be a feminist. Feminism isn't about just 'making your own choices,' it's about inclusivity and equality.

But maybe the tipping point was that O'Rourke also wanted to re-unify immigrants with their families, end military involvement in immigration procedures, ensure that undocumented individuals brought to the U.S. as children could attain citizenship, as well as due-process for those who crossed illegally. O’Rourke is also anti-border wall.In Texas, this fight is especially huge. Immigrants comprise 17 percent of Texas' population. Texas construction—an ever-growing industry—employs 40 percent of immigrants. Whatever fake news is spreading on old Texan's Facebook pages, undocumented immigrants are an integral part of Texas infrastructure, contributing $1.6 billion in taxes each year. And such tax contributions would only rise if they were granted citizenship. Of all the old folks I've spoken to in Texas, O'Rourke's liberal immigration policies were the largest turn-off. And white women, in particular, seemed to vote against their own reproductive rights in order to bar immigrants from citizenship.

Outside of Texas, CNN shows us that only 25 percent of white women in Georgia voted for Stacy Abrams. Abrams promised to safeguard women's right to choose and to reshape healthcare for Georgia mothers. With Georgia's median and minimum wages far both below the national average and where half the rural regions in the state can't give obstetric care to women, mortality and morbidity rates are worse than ever. It's a full-blown health crisis. And say what you wish about Abram's debt scandal (which she, like O'Rourke, disclosed honestly), white women, but you trust white male politicians with enough sexual assault scandals in their back pocket to usher in a 30-year prison sentence without batting an eye. A woman fighting for your reproductive rights was shut down not due to weak policies but, convincingly, because white women aren't willing to let a black woman lead them.

It’s a realistic theory that black stereotypes can be attributed to poisoning perception through the media for decades, and it's very plausible white women simply don't trust a black woman to make accurate judgments. I'm guessing white women are scared of losing the power associated with a white man in charge; someone they see as deserving, and an equal. White women may be afraid of losing societal control, the type of privilege and influence summoned when the cops are called on a black student napping. What white women equate with blackness is not leadership, nor politics. And while these are the same white women who surely say "I don't see color, you could be purple for all I care!" the dismissiveness of a black woman for yet another shady, pro-life politician feels a lot like unbridled racism (which, ironically, these voters hate being labeled).

Florida candidate Andrew Gillum was striving not just for women's reproductive rights but, notably, for equal pay legislation and security, plus the backing of corporations managed and owned by women. What more could you possibly ask for? Apparently, a lot more, as white women still disappointed in Florida (though to a lesser extent), 51 percent of whom voted for Gillum's opposition, Ron DeSantis. DeSantis voted against the 2013 Violence Against Women Act, which would have allotted more resources to law enforcement to properly deal with domestic violence as well as promised protection for women facing danger by the hands of a spouse. Earlier this year, DeSantis also promised to sign an anti-abortion law if elected. Because of course he did.

It's worth mentioning that Cruz also voted against the Violence Against Women Act, and Kemp once refused to fund a Decatur, Georgia rape crisis center (not once, but twice) and all three—Cruz, DeSantis, and Kemp openly supported Judge Kavanaugh's rise to U.S. Supreme Court, despite Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony. These men plainly don't care about women. And yes, white women, that includes you.

Watching the results pour in last night, white women once again having disappointed the minorities who showed up en masse to vote against the monster the Trump administration created two years ago, I can only surmise white women think they're the exception to the rule, but this is also a class issue. Those who haven't faced scrutiny over wanting an abortion or aren't working women need not worry about pro-life legislation and equal pay because they'll never have to deal with it. My guess is a large percentage of these white women are older, married and don't plan on having children. But domestic violence is pervasive and follows no formulas. White women, apparently, would rather refuse legislature that would make them more powerful than have to see a person of color on the news making the world a more "progressive" place. Texas, Florida and Georgia are seen as "conservative" states that shouldn't be liberal strongholds, but the question remains: Why? Everything changes, as people grow, and if you're not part of the solution you remain part of the problem—the same problem that elected President Trump in 2016.

While it's not like I haven't noticed all the white men also mass-voting for the shittiest candidates possible, we seem to be surprised when women do the same because we hold all women to a matronly standard of being empathetic, rational, nurturing and emotive. The problem is that this simply isn't true, contrary to what white feminism would love for you to believe. Women aren't all good people. I saw a tweet recently that claimed if you're "a girl" you can't "make fun of other girls," implying it goes against some sort of girl code. This is plainly obtuse thinking. Not all women identify as feminists. And some who do, are wrong. You can't vote against yourself as a woman and still be a feminist. Feminism isn't about just "making your own choices," it's about inclusivity and equality. And if you're voting for these men, you don't want that. These women aren't even in it for their own personal gain, let alone anyone else's gain. They must believe they don't deserve protection. And we know they aren't just voting as their husbands want them too. Just look at Kellyanne Conway's bizarrely lifeless marriage to a non-Trump supporter. No one is looking over white women's shoulders in the polls. They're deciding this. And I don't even know who they're choosing it for.

I'm biracial and identify as mixed, though I acknowledge my privilege in passing as white. One huge concern I've recognized is the policies that impact women are often overshadowed by what male politicians find important—even the progressive ones—and women's issues take a back seat. Abortion is usually front and center, but policies involving equal pay, support for women-owned businesses and domestic violence are typically murkier. Maybe we need to make these policies more accessible across the board because two years of merely talking to white women haven't helped.

But maybe we should stop seeing all women as sensitive, tender caregivers, because post-Trump, post-Kavanaugh, and post-truth, it's become overwhelmingly clear we can't change every woman's mind. Especially—and sorry, but poll statistics back me up here—if they're white.

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