Bring It Home, White Women

marchers from the Women's March

Because if we really are going to see a #BlueWave on Tuesday, that’s who we’re depending on – college educated, suburban white women who usually vote Republican. Does that terrify you? It does me as well, and I AM a white woman (although I do not live in the suburbs or ever vote Republican).

Yes, we need the black community to show up in Obama-era numbers, even though he isn’t on the ballot.

Yes, we need Hispanic and Latino men to get over their machismo and vote for the Democrat, even if she’s a she.

Yes, we need the 40+% of young people who CLAIM they’re going to vote to ACTUALLY SHOW UP to vote.

But the richest target for FLIPPED votes is the 44% of college educated white women who voted for Trump and in the intervening years have FINALLY seen the patriarchy for what it is.

I do have some sympathy for them. It’s a horrifying awakening.

As a black woman I respect with whom I serve on a board of directors recently put it, “I don’t have white friends.” And as I told her, “I get that. White people are exhausting, and I AM a white people.”

It’s relatively easy to put your condescending white boss or racist white cops or your not-very-neighborly white neighbor or #BarbecueBecky and #GolfcartGail and their ilk into a box over THERE of THEM who hate US, so we don’t truck with them. While you can’t always stop them from harming you and yours, it’s really easy to keep them out of the core of your emotional life.

People of color can construct private worlds from which we’re excluded, and it’s understandable when they do. Which is another reason to treasure the people of color who are your friends – your REAL friends – because they’re giving you a gift that they don’t owe you.

It’s devastating to realize that the ones who want to harm you look JUST LIKE your husband, your father, your brother, your son. The ones who want to harm you MAY ACTUALLY BE your husband, your father, your brother, your son. There is no way to put them in a box over THERE of THEM we don’t truck with.

Goddess love the lesbian separatists, but that’s just not doable for the overwhelming majority of women.

Knowing that you’re sleeping with the enemy and there’s no way around it wounds you on a level that your white boss saying you’re making good progress in your career because you sound white (yes, that really happened to a friend of mine) never can.

But those white women – the ones who don’t want to face the awful truth of their lives, who don’t want to deal with that pain, who don’t want to blow up their most intimate family relationships – are EXACTLY the ones we need, and we need them to be willing to do EXACTLY that.

All we can do in this, the Last Weekend, is keep working for change and hope that enough of them do.

[What about women of color? Aren’t there men of color, too? Aren’t women of color also impacted by the patriarchy?

Well, yes, of course. But women of color often choose – and have chosen – racial solidarity over gender solidarity, and for some very good reasons.

One, racial issues have often – although not always – been more urgent than gender issues. Example? Although women were legally treated as property in some very important ways up through at least the 1970s, white women were never sold on the auction block in the US.

Also, men of color, as victims of white supremacy, can be more attuned to sexism and, even if they aren’t, are often unable to access at least some components of male privilege, so patriarchy expresses itself differently in those communities.

And it is far more natural to choose solidarity with your father, your husband, your brother, your son than to choose solidarity with some random white women from the consciousness-raising group.

And white feminists have done a terrible job of standing in solidarity with women of color going back to (at least some of) the suffragists. We’ve expected them to be willing to work on the issues that matter to us, but we rarely return the favor.

So yes, there is patriarchy in the black community, in the Hispanic/Latinx community, in the Asian community, in the First Nations community. It expresses itself differently and impacts the members of those communities differently. Someday, Goddess willing, the scourge of racism will recede enough that women of color will have some space to work through how patriarchy that is distinct from white patriarchy affects them. My only hope is that white feminists will be able to pull our heads out of own own asses in time to be of some assistance when that day comes.]

[Notice white men continue to get a pass, even from me. With a few exceptions, they’re pretty much beyond hope.]

Image found here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

4 responses to “Bring It Home, White Women

  1. Amen! Here’s hoping. I’m a nervous wreck.

  2. Love this — as I do all your posts. I’m pretty much embarrassed to talk to black women nowadays because I’m one of the oppressor class. Hope to get over that soon, though, because we definitely need to work together. As in one of the signs at the Women’s March: “I know we’ll see you nice white ladies at the next march. Black Lives Matter.”

    • Just remember: white guilt doesn’t do anyone any good, and most folks of color don’t particularly want you to feel guilty. They want you to educate yourself, get comfortable talking about race and white privilege, apologize without making excuses when you get it wrong, promise to do better next time (and actually DO better next time), and work for change. It may not be easy, but it is fairly simple.

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