WOMEN’S RIGHTS MATTER
White American Women Are Not Powerless. So, How Did We Get Here?
Voting against their interest also sabotaged Black women’s rights
White women are not powerless, damsels in distress. While rarely discussed, many White women have worked to undermine women’s rights. When Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to the House of Representatives in 1916, pursued voting rights for women, she threw Black women under the bus. When a White senator, John Sharp Williams, warned, “if we pass your amendment, then Negro women could vote.” Rankin’s response laid the schism bare: “But, couldn’t you keep them from voting the same way you keep the Negro man from voting?” For too long, White women have prioritized their rights, and in doing so, they caused long-term damage to the women’s movement.
If you will support women, you cannot exclude some based on race or nationality and walk away with your credibility intact. American women’s rights are under fire, and we’re not unified enough to overcome them. Amy Coney Barrett disregarding women’s rights is not an anomaly. Exit polling demonstrated the majority of White women voted for Trump in the last two elections.
Remember that Donald Trump was the Presidential Candidate who bragged about sexually assaulting women: “Grab ’em by the pussy,” he advised other men as if women enjoy unwanted touching. Trump, who was initially pro-choice, shifted to pro-life when he ran as a Republican, capitalizing on White Evangelicals. Roy Hagemyer, a pastor who attended a pro-life rally, said Trump’s support made him “optimistic,” commenting, “I believe that in my lifetime, we will see Roe v. Wade overturned.” We saw this coming. Yet, White women’s support for Trump increased in 2020, even though Trump said women who get an abortion should be “punished.” At this point, how is this policy perspective any different from the pilot in The Handmaiden’s Tale, where women were put in handcuffs, chained to the bed, and forced to give birth?
Right now, many White women are looking shocked, as if they didn’t know standing under a tree in a thunderstorm would have consequences. People who try to avoid politics like the plague often insist both parties are the same, corrupt, ineffective, and…