Since Donald Trump’s election last Tuesday, many have taken to the streets, not just in protest, but in mourning. The great and good were so convinced that Hillary Clinton was going to win that, even after the fact, they simply couldn’t believe the result. Then the exit polls came, and with them the news that 53 per cent of white women had voted for Trump.
Clinton supporters on both sides of the pond lost their minds. ‘Most white women don’t want to be part of an intersectional feminist sisterhood. Most white women just want to be one of the guys. And we will all suffer for it’, wrote one American journalist, the morning after the vote. ‘Dear fellow white women: you had the personification of safe white liberal feminism to vote for. You STILL picked racist patriarchy’, tweeted one upset British columnist as the news rolled in. White women chose a misogynist, wrote an Irish Times columnist, ‘like slaves fluffing the pillows of their master’s rocking chair on his porch as he shouts abuse at them’.
White women are filled with self-hatred, an activist wrote: ‘White women understand hate. We have been hating ourselves for so long that self-hatred feels normal. We may well hate people of different skin colours or religious beliefs as well, but we hate ourselves more.’ Another American observer argued that it’s now clear that ‘far too many white women still see white men as their saviours’.
I could go on – there have been endless articles, tweets and public outpourings about how shameful it is that many female voters chose Trump over Clinton. Every woman quoted above claims to be a feminist, and yet they’ve denounced female Trump voters as selfish, traitors, blind idiots, slaves, self-haters. Supposedly progressive feminists argue that women have ‘internalised misogyny’ – that hatred towards women is so ingrained in their daily experience that they can’t help being brainwashed by it and then expressing it in the ballot box. Apparently Clinton voters were able to rise above this subconscious force.
Yes, Trump has said he wants to roll back women’s access to abortion; he’s been a pig in many of his comments about women; and he’s probably not the best candidate to argue for better childcare resources or maternity leave. But the idea that he will send every woman howling back to the dark ages is absurd; that smacks more of fearmongering than a serious feminism designed to criticise and challenge the new president.