Feminism 2017: ‘Shut Up, White Women’
Welcome to your post-Hillary gulag of ‘intersectionality’
Even before the ballots had been counted in last year’s election, while feminists were still wearing their “I’m With Her” stickers and anticipating the celebration of Hillary Clinton’s election, the pundits were trying to make sense of an odd omen in the exit polls. A majority of white women had voted against the would-be First Female President, despite weeks of incessant media coverage about Donald Trump’s various sexist transgressions. This one data point from the exit polls spawned a tsunami of post-election headlines.
Common sense would suggest that the Democrats, who quite nearly monopolized the black vote and won Hispanic voters by landslide margins in 2016, might examine the failed Clinton campaign strategy with an eye toward improving their party’s appeal to white voters (male and female alike) in future election. After all, Hillary won the popular vote and her defeat in the Electoral College was due to losing a handful of states (including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and North Carolina) by relatively narrow margins. Fine-tuning the message from a standpoint of political pragmatism and avoiding the errors of 2016 could give the Democrats a quick comeback.
Ah, but pragmatic common sense has nothing to do with feminism! Their existential despair on Election Night soon gave way to angry radical sloganeering — #NotMyPresident they hashtagged, styling themselves the #resistance against the Republican celebrity who won the election. And a silly jargon phrase from college campuses, “white feminism,” went viral.
What is this insanity about? First, it’s about “intersectionality,” a term coined in 1989 by UCLA Law Professor Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, a proponent of so-called “critical race theory.” To quote Wikipedia:
Intersectionality is the idea that multiple identities intersect to create a whole that is different from the component identities. These identities that can intersect include gender, race, social class, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, age, mental disability, physical disability, mental illness, and physical illness as well as other forms of identity. These aspects of identity are not “unitary, mutually exclusive entities, but rather…reciprocally constructing phenomena.” The theory proposes that we think of each element or trait of a person as inextricably linked with all of the other elements in order to fully understand one’s identity. This framework, it is argued, can be used to understand how systemic injustice and social inequality occur on a multidimensional basis.
Perhaps not coincidentally, Professor Crenshaw’s coinage appeared in the aftermath of three consecutive landslide victories for Republican presidents, and just about the time the Soviet Union was collapsing. Democrats had lost five of the six previous presidential elections from Nixon’s narrow 1968 win to George H.W. Bush’s drubbing of Mike Dukakis in 1988. Liberals in academia were desperate for some explanation for the two-decade-long failure of their worldview, and “intersectionality” was part of their attempt to understand their misfortunes. Third Wave feminists grabbed hold of this bit of jargon, and soon Women’s Studies classes were also about racism, homophobia, etc. This is how “intersectionality” made its way from an academic treatise in a law journal (“Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics”) to being the kind of word every trendy 19-year-old with a Twitter account throws around when trying to sound like an intellectual.
Whether or not teenagers understand “intersectionality” in its original context, the climate on 21st-century college campus is another factor in understanding where the rage against “white feminism” originates. Parents who attended college in the 1980s or ’90s may not realize that white students are now a minority at many schools. At UCLA, for example, there are now more Asian students (32%) than whites (26%), and 21% of UCLA undergrads are Hispanic and 5% are black. However, the left-wing faculty promote an anti-Republican politics that is also an anti-white politics, with lectures against “privilege” in which being white and voting Republican are considered synonymous with racism. This message about “white privilege” and Republican racism is so constantly reiterated on most campuses that many white students internalize a sense of self-hatred, expressed through advocacy of liberal politics, as a defense against being deemed “racist.” Conservative students tend to be quiet about politics, and the Trump supporter on an elite university campus is apt to avoid any overt expression of pro-GOP leanings.
Violent left-wing protest mobs function to intimidate any student who doesn’t support the Democrats and their “progressive” agenda. By effectively silencing opposition on campus, the Left is able to monopolize discourse, which is why the outright demonization of white people has become so commonplace among young college-educated liberals.
Unfortunately for Democrats, the American electorate doesn’t much resemble the undergraduate enrollment at UCLA. For example, there are a lot more white people in the rest of the country than in California, which now has the largest non-white population of any state, and is nearly 40% Hispanic. This helps explain why Hillary Clinton won California nearly 2-to-1 last November, but couldn’t beat Trump in Pennsylvania or Michigan, which hadn’t gone for a Republican since 1988. How many of the feminist pundits and bloggers ranting against “white feminism” live in suburban Pittsburgh? Not a lot, I’d guess, and so the college-educated feminist commentators are unable to understand why a Pennsylvania truck driver’s wife would vote for Trump.
An almost complete cultural disconnect — a vast socioeconomic chasm — separates the middle- and working-class American from the affluent media elite that produces most political journalism in this country. The host of the highest-rated program on CNN, for example, is a Yale-educated gay man whose mother was an heiress to the Vanderbilt fortune. The most popular personality on MSNBC, meanwhile, is a lesbian alumna of Stanford. If liberals were blindsided by Clinton’s defeat, it may be because liberals get their news from people who have zero sympathy for Middle American voters.
Somebody else can write the book How Democrats Lost America, but when they do, they might mention “white feminism” as a sort of barometer of the lunacy that has seized hold the liberal mind. If you nominate a white feminist for president and she loses because white women voted against her, how does it make sense to further alienate this crucial constituency by making them scapegoats for your defeat? “SJWs Always Double Down,” to quote the conservative author Vox Day, but the left-wing rage against “white feminism” is not merely doubling down, it might be political suicide for Democrats.
Notice the tone of this January screed from feminist writer Dorothy Lydia:
White feminism is the feminism that fights for women’s rights, but not specifically the rights of women of color. It’s the feminism that doesn’t seem to consider or even acknowledge the privilege of white women over other races. The one that excludes racial issues from its context. Speaking more bluntly, it is the group of white women who believe they are feminists, but only seem to be fighting for the gender rights of their own race. . . .
Examples of white feminists have included people like Lena Dumham, Jennifer Lawrence, and Amy Schumer who are all quick to speak up for the right’s of women, but have also been known to make racist comments in the past. …
The whole reason feminism was created was because it was recognized how unfair it was that women were not as privileged as men. … But POC women are even less privileged than white women. Wages are lower for them, the double standards are higher, and white beauty standards are still continuing to be enforced everywhere they turn. It simply boils down to one fact: Women have it hard — but women of color have it even harder.
You want more Trump? Because that’s how you get more Trump — arrogantly self-righteous sermons about “privilege,” “beauty standards,” etc.
Attacks on “white feminism” will do nothing to remedy the Democrats’ electoral disadvantages in key swing states, and may actually increase the Republican margins by alienating some white women who voted for Hillary in 2016, but who resent being scapegoated in the wake of her defeat.
Relying on the identity-politics formula of “intersectionality,” Democrats let feminists lead them to disaster, and don’t seem inclined to change course. White women who voted for Hillary now find themselves exiled to a sort of gulag, where they will learn why feminism is a synonym for “shut up!”