A Woman President, or the Great Moral Threat of Our Time…by Academic Feminists
In 2016, a dangerous threat to American values rose like a dark demigod from the great city in the north east of the land. This monstrous Lady MacBeth had been scheming for decades, angling to seize power. Like the White Witch, this abomination used deception and guile, dark magic, to cloud and confuse her enemies. Like Cersei Lannister, she had committed grave sins in her rise to power. Down through history she came, the Unnatural One, stinking of the pits of depravity, and the nation trembled in fear. None seemed able to stop this handmaiden of the apocalypse. Would no warrior arise to strike her down? Anyone? Anyone? Gandalf? Bernie? Bueller? Biff? Anyone? We’ll take literally anyone…Donald! Oh, well, if that’s what it takes…
Much ink will be spilled trying to explain the 2016 Presidential election. It’s exhausting just thinking about the sheer number of books that have yet to be written “explaining” why we collectively decided to shoot ourselves in the foot. There will be books about race relations (a few of them might even be published by black people, but most will be by white people trying to explain it to other white people), books about gerrymandering (which no one will buy), books about the white working class (oh, so many books about the white working class!) There will be books about Obama and his legacy, books about the Bush family and their legacy, books about Bill Clinton and his legacy, and books about Bernie Sanders and the great Lost Cause. And, of course, there will be books about Trump. Hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of trees will give their lives to churn out hundreds, perhaps thousands (!) of books about Trump. The number of books about Trump will rival only the number of books about Putin, thousands of books about the Russian government, and hacking, and Fake News, and James Comey, and the FBI and the CIA and the NSA and, of course, Julian Assange (because that’s what we really need, more books about him).
But I’m going to make a prediction: there will not be many books about Hillary Clinton. There will be some, but not many. At least, not at first. She will appear in many of the above books, a cypher, a woman-shaped blank in the picture, but there won’t be many books about her. It’s just too hard to talk about it and too few people know what to say.
53% of white women voted against Hillary Clinton. This is a statistic that gets brought up a lot to show everyone that the 2016 election had nothing to do with women or gender or that most-dreaded word feminism, whatever that word means, anymore. I don’t say these women voted “for” Trump, because to say that would be inaccurate. They held their noses and told themselves that it was just “locker room talk,” but the reality is that those women voted against Hillary Clinton. And that vote is the most important reason Trump won. There are a lot of white women in America and our votes count bigly. We could have saved the country in a crushing landslide. But we chose to collectively vote for a man who had just told us a month before that we are dirt not fit to lick his shoes, apart from the small minority of us who are “tens.” He may let a “ten” lick his shoes, but are you certain you’re a “ten” dear reader? Haven’t you put on a few in the last few years?
Why would so many white women turn out to vote against one of their own? If identity politics is the practice of dividing people into groups by their identity, shouldn’t most strait, white women identify with a strait, white woman? Of course, many women who voted for Trump were Christian conservatives for whom abortion is the most important issue and they will vote for whichever politician vows to overturn Roe v. Wade. Many are lifelong Republicans for whom voting for a left-wing Democrat of any kind is simply too much to ask. But these issues are not, ultimately, the real reason Hillary lost white women. Because there many, many other white women who are neither devout Christians nor Republican partisans, including, most crucially, many, many, many white women democrats and independents who agonized over their choice, for whom the 2016 election was not a celebration of their identity but a crucible of shame and loathing.
When people say there was an “enthusiasm gap” in the 2016 election, what they really mean is that many of the strait, white women they know, the liberal, or even moderate, “feminists” who turned out in droves to support Obama, loath Hillary Clinton with a passion that is perhaps matched only by the most ardent Trump supporter. Many white women have taken to the presses to explain that the problem wasn’t them, it was that Hillary wasn’t “intersectional” enough and didn’t appeal enough to women of color, even though we all know black women showed up and we, her so-called “base,” didn’t. Her expected base, those women who are in many respects exactly like her, hate her almost as much as Trump does. In fact, they hate her more. Because as we all know, Trump doesn’t really hate people. He’s like one of those chat-bots on Twitter who just write whatever foul nonsense is going to get the most retweets. He’s just the mirror in which America gets to look directly at itself. Fun!
“But why!? Why!?” I hear the collective screams of liberal men and women of color, who thought their own ambivalence would be balanced out by the legions of white women who would turn out in pantsuits waiving suffragette posters listening to Katy Perry to vote for a bona fide, leaning-in white feminist. White women were supposed to make up for all the reasons why liberal white men and voters of color felt ambivalent about Hillary, who were willing to show up but had some misgivings. Strait, white women were the ones who were supposed to be excited about 2016. We were supposed to be pumped. And as we suffer through the death of our civilization, the Trump presidency (which is likely to last 8 years, so just brace yourselves), this primal scream of betrayal will echo down through history. “Whyyyyyyyy??????”
As soon as Hillary was out of the picture, masses of white women flung themselves into the streets to protest Trump. This was held up as evidence of something wonderful, but really it was unutterably sad, an expression of collective guilt and shame that really had nothing to do with our chat-bot President. Even at the march, the organizers didn’t want to show “her” face or admit “her” existence. This was likely confusing for many men. Wasn’t she, more than anyone else, the symbol of feminist awakening? Shouldn’t she be the symbol of female Resistance?
There is no white woman Resistance. I hope Hillary will continue to fight her lonely war for justice, because nobody fights better than her. Her power-symbol is a pair of white boxing gloves. She may yet be the future of feminism, though it certainly doesn’t look like it right now. Why?
Because men “don’t like” uppity women who mouth off the whole time and don’t know their place. It’s fine to join the march, help organize the march, make sandwiches for the march, but it’s not OK to be leading the march. Being a leader like Hillary, being out in front on your own, without a man helping you and showing you the way, that’s a one-way ticket to singles-ville. Sure, it’s fine for lesbians, they “don’t have to worry” about what men think. But strait girls? There will be no big, puffy white dress and no envious friends if you march around in pantsuits upstaging your husband like Hillary. Husbands and boyfriends cheat on girls like her. We all know the rules, right ladies? So write your polemics about how Bernie is the “feminist” choice because “feminists” reject “hierarchy” and “corporate feminism” and “aggression” because men don’t like it when their wives make more money than they do. Men don’t like it when you talk over them, or do something better than they do. Be fun! Be a good sport! Make the coffee. Change the diapers. Follow the rules and you will be rewarded with a husband. Like Jane Austen promised us.
To openly support Hillary required a radical, public act of defiance of the rules. It required stepping outside of the zone of the personal, the private safe-space that is reserved for women. And to anyone who wonders why strait, white women will give up anything, even the dream of being President, to keep their mouths shut, remember that the cost of stepping out of line may be invisible, but it is high. A man may be beaten and imprisoned, but to fight for his rights will only make women love him more. Trump wanted to be President because he thought that would make everyone love him. But Hillary ran knowing full well that the act of running for President, of stepping so far out of line, would bring down an avalanche of hate the likes of which even she had never seen before. And this is what people mean when they write that, Hillary is “unknowable?” Because who doesn’t want to be loved? Who would voluntarily trade love for hate?
The people who suffer the most from the Trump presidency will likely be children in Somalia, who will starve to death by the tens of thousands because some rich, privileged white women thousands of miles away couldn’t set aside their selfishness to vote for their own doppelganger. So go make sandwiches for the leaders of the next march, ladies, but don’t eat too many yourself! You really shouldn’t gain any more weight.