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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Opinion

White women voting against their interests


In both the 2016 presidential election and the 2018 midterm election, leftist activists have been baffled by the majority of white women voting for officials that typically campaign against policies that help women. This is a stark contrast to women of color, particularly black women, who have overwhelmingly voted Democrat.

This has caused a racial divide in feminist groups, as it implies white women value policies that favor white people over policies that will benefit women of various races and classes. In order for Democrats to win, white women must finally decide to place their gender over their racial privilege.

It is not controversial to say that the Republican party, though not necessarily individuals within the party, runs counter to much of modern day feminist thought.

The party objectively runs on a platform that seeks to end or obstruct women’s access to a safe and legal abortion, which women’s rights activists largely disagree with.

The party also opposes measures that would protect LGBTQ individuals as well as the legal recognition of same-sex marriages, instead favoring a “traditional” family structure.

Betsy DeVos, current Republican Secretary of Education, recently rescinded Title IX guidelines that regulated how colleges handled sexual assault cases on campus, which one in four women are likely to experience.

Furthermore, the party has seen a recent uptick in sexual assault accusations, headlined by the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. 

Many pundits assumed white women in the 2016 election would vote against Donald Trump’s clear and violent misogyny. Exactly two years later, many of those same pundits estimated that, in the aftermath of Kavanaugh being sworn in, white women would finally say “no more” to the Republican congressmen who confirmed him.

Though these scandals certainly swayed some to vote blue when they previously wouldn’t have, the numbers haven’t been as overwhelming as political scientists predicted. White women appear to remain ideologically torn.

In the 2018 House election, nationwide votes cast by white women were divided 49 percent Democrat and 49 percent Republican. This is a decrease in Republican votes in comparison to the 2016 presidential election, in which 52 percent of white women voted for Trump.

Why, then, do white women seem to be voting against their best interest?

Right-wing Women” feminist scholar Andrea Dworkin believes it to be a symptom of patriarchal structures that “the  woman  hangs  on to  the  very  persons, institutions  and  values  that  demean her.” She states that this submission to conservative values is largely a survival tactic.

While this may play some part, it is important to note that gender is not the only factor in any election and this theory does not paint the whole picture. White female voters continuously appear to be collectively unsure of whether they will vote in favor of their gender or their race.

Intersectional feminists and journalists of color like columnist Ashley Reese posit that white women’s allegiance to “Trump’s racist and classist policies, but apparently not his manners” will always win out, writing the demographic out as a lost cause.

The Republican party’s comparatively harsh, and arguably racially-charged, views on immigration, crime and social security may be the reason whiteness has won out over womanhood within the demographic.

It is important to note that despite the recent sexual assault scandals that may have swayed on-the-fence conservative women, the Republican party has succeeded in spinning the narrative to an immigration issue.

This redirection may have played some role in encouraging white women to vote against the party that would allegedly welcome “caravan after caravan of illegal aliens.” 

It is widely agreed that white women are a key electoral demographic. In order to avoid the white women majority voting Republican in close races like Texas’s 2018 Senate election, the Democratic party will have to either emphasize their comparatively pro-women platform or challenge deeply held racist views.

Otherwise, the party might not stand a chance in traditionally deep red states.

Opinion columnist Adison Eyring is a media productions and political science sophomore and can be reached at [email protected]

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