If no other lesson is clear yet from the 2016 presidential election result, it is this: patriarchy reigns. Let freedom ring — if you’re a white male. And, if you’re a white nationalist, well, even better.
What fresh hell is this?
President-elect Donald Trump chose Stephen Bannon, a white nationalist and former head of Breitbart Media, a blatantly unapologetic website that skews fascist, for his Alt-White House advisor. Among the pejoratives that Bannon has spewed include, in 2011, when he said liberal Ivy League-educated women are dykes and hate conservative married women with kids, because we think they’re stupid.
A belief echoed by that loveable madcap, conservative commentator Ann Coulter, who has said if white, educated women couldn’t vote, America would never elect another Democrat as president.
But Coulter was wrong, wasn’t she?
We didn’t have to #RepealThe19th for a Republican win. Liberal, educated women voted. White college educated women voted for Clinton 51 percent to Trump’s 45 percent. We wore our #NastyWomenVote T-shirts, snapped our selfies with our “I Voted” stickers, wore suffragette white, like our ancestral #Sheroes, and took our daughters to witness history in the making.
But we lost. What gives?
Clare Malone, a senior political analyst for FiveThirtyEight summarized it best. She said Trump can’t win without 1) women and 2) people of color. Therefore, Trump can’t win. Malone said, I was wrong about 1) and right about 2). Indeed. Trump won with 62 percent of non-college-educated white women to Clinton’s 34 percent. Blame the emails, blame Kellyanne Conway, blame mainstream media and blame the Russians — but if you blame women — don’t forget to include Clinton’s very own Huma Abedin, who despite working for Clinton, arguably the most important woman in politics — couldn’t let go of her man.
Never underestimate a woman’s fear of being alone. At the end of the day, more than half of the women who voted, preferred a man making decisions for her and the country over a woman making them. It’s a bitter pill, to be sure, but ignoring it is a mistake we can’t afford in the 2018 midterm elections.
We thought women would unite under the #PervertNotPresident banner. We trusted women to prioritize their physical and fiscal autonomy in this unprecedented election — the year we played our women cards and shouted enthusiastically, “Deal Me In!” We discounted the women who had no interest in anteing up for Hillary Clinton to make her our first woman president, let alone upping the ante to shift the patriarchy paradigm.
The inherent sexism in the belief that women of any racial, ethnic, ideological or socioeconomic background would vote in a singular way is not lost on me. To date, I have yet to see the headline “What about the men?” or “What happened with men?” to explain election results. With this election, and nearly 100 years after white women obtained the right to vote, women of all colors are not sitting at the table — we have been relegated to the kitchen. But for a few of us, the women who won House and Senate seats nationally and locally, among others, are now more important than ever.
Marianne Williamson, the author of “A Woman’s Worth,” wrote about magnetism and dynamism, and how women use each. The younger generations of women, Williamson said, don’t appreciate or exercise the power of silence to get what they want from men, as opposed to bludgeoning them with external reminders of how powerful women are. Exit polls indicate conservative women didn’t talk about voting for Donald Trump in the presence of the other women who were vocal about how dangerous he is to women due to his racist, sexist, xenophobic megalomania. While the conservative women would have been hard to hear over the din of our #NotUpForGrabs protest anyway, their strategic stealth votes merit greater attention in any future election.
The real disappointment for women like me, who believe in meritocracy and that all people really are created equal, is that at least half, if not a majority of women, still don’t trust other women to lead. New York Times columnist Gail Collins, whose grasp of women’s political history is paramount, framed the election results in her Nov. 13 piece “The Glass Ceiling Holds.”
“Women had precious few rights themselves, but they weren’t a separate enslaved group. They were living in the bedrooms and parlors of the male authority figures who were their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons. When they rebelled, they were laughed at. The women tried to win over men who were simultaneously their lovers and oppressors with an excruciatingly slow, patient drive to change their minds … The women’s movement, meanwhile, had transformed the country … It was a whole new world, but with men at the top.”
Hope springs eternal, though. A stat from FiveThirtyEight tells us all is not lost: “One group that strongly supported Clinton on Tuesday was young women. She won women 18 to 29 years old 63 percent to 31 percent.” Whether those women are married or single is another clue to add into the criteria for a future woman presidential candidate — in addition to being one of the most experienced presidential candidates in U.S. history, I mean. Rebecca Traister, in her “All the Single Ladies, Unmarried Women and the Rise of An Independent Nation” wrote this:
“In short, it is time to greet the epoch of single women that’s upon us with open eyes and curious minds. If we do, we will travel the progressive path that Susan B. Anthony imagined winding away in front of her, the path that is now in front of us. By truly reckoning with woman as both equal and independent entity, we can make our families, our institutions and out social contract stronger.”
Let freedom ring.