Politics & Policy

Revenge of the White Woman

Ted Cruz supporters attend an election-night party in Houston, Texas, November 6, 2018. (Jonathan Bachman/Reuters)
In the wake of the elections, progressives accuse white women of betraying the sisterhood.

Amid the inevitable outrage fest touched off by the election results, hardcore partisans on the left solidified around one particular angry narrative: If and when Democrats lose, it is because white women remain insufficiently woke.

The Usual Suspects crafted this argument around exit polls of the Senate race in Texas, which revealed that white women broke for Republican incumbent Ted Cruz by a significant margin — 60 percent cast ballots for him rather than for Robert Francis O’Rourke (“Beto” to you), who received just 39 percent of their support.

This 20-point margin in the Lone Star State was enough evidence for commentators to lob a variety of creative slurs at white women as a class, who make up about a third of all Americans. Feminists raced to label white women “footsoldiers of the patriarchy,” and left-wing pundits piled on. White female progressives didn’t feel the need to defend their own: “White women we are so gross it’s f***ing embarrassing and we need to f***ing stop,” one feminist warrior tweeted.

Rolling Stone writer Jamil Smith lamented white women’s betrayal, wondering “when they will understand the damage that they do, and not just to themselves.” Others helpfully pointed out that white women who support conservatives can’t really be blamed — after all, in many parts of the country, helpless, backwards females are still in thrall to their misogynistic husbands, who force them to vote Republican.

If this doesn’t sound like feminism, that’s because it isn’t.

The Left’s newfound obsession with identity politics — which has given succor and some success to their progressive revolution in recent years — is in inherent tension with feminism’s longstanding belief that female agency is a fundamental good.

Autonomous women are all well and good, it seems, until they autonomously turn out to support Ted Cruz. The Texas Senate race was just about the only competitive national race last night in which white women voted largely for the GOP, with the notable exception of Georgia’s gubernatorial contest, in which 75 percent of white women chose Republican Brian Kemp over Stacey Abrams.

This inflammatory rhetoric, then, isn’t only unhelpful and un-feminist; it also happens to be wrong. In House races, white women split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, 49–49 percent. In swing-state Senate races in which GOP challengers unseated Democrats, the splits were fairly narrow: White women in North Dakota divided evenly between Kevin Cramer and Heidi Heitkamp; in Missouri, they broke for Josh Hawley over Claire McCaskill by only six points; and in Indiana, they preferred Mike Braun slightly to Joe Donnelly, 51–43 percent.

Exit-poll data from Florida, meanwhile, reveal even further inaccuracies in the left-wing vendetta against white women. Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis bested Andrew Gillum among white women by just a four-point margin and also managed to win 40 percent of Hispanic women. Governor Rick Scott, challenging Democratic senator Bill Nelson, won white women by six points and likewise nabbed 40 percent of Hispanic women in the state. Democrats have conveniently ignored the latter part of these statistics; it’s safe to erase minority women, after all, when their voting habits don’t serve the narrative.

This immediate pivot to scolding white women, based on the outcome of a mere two races, exemplifies the progressive tendency to justify every setback with a narrative about unavoidable racial bias and the blinding effect of white privilege. Our political divisions are complicated by race and sex, of course, but these factors don’t themselves explain, for example, why some women, white or otherwise, are conservative. The answer to that riddle — Hint: Women aren’t required by their chromosomes to form a monolithic progressive voting bloc — is one that Democrats appear uninterested in discovering, if they believe an answer other than “self-interested racism” exists at all.

It’s a continuation of the blind spot progressives exhibited in the debate over Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Feminists insisted after his confirmation that “women will not forget,” that women “see a little more clearly how much we don’t matter to the people in charge,” that women’s rage “burns so brightly.” White women who refused to conform to the anti-Kavanaugh frenzy of the moment were alternately disregarded or labeled gender traitors.

In its sudden embrace of identity politics, the hardcore Left needs Americans to believe that feminism and progressivism are intertwined, and thus that every woman is intrinsically wired to embrace left-wing orthodoxy. The success of their political movement increasingly depends on it. As a result, when the existence of conservative women is revealed — as it was on election night — they dismiss our views and our votes as being the result of ignorance, malice, or insufficient independence from the sway of the misogynistic patriarchy.

In doing so, the Left undercuts the definitional core of feminism itself: Women can be trusted to think for themselves.

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