My beliefs about the female Trump supporter

As a woman of color and a feminist, the past two years have been challenging.  For me, any definition of feminism includes all women, no matter their wealth, religion, race or circumstance.  This concept has been a struggle to maintain because so many women in this country have been participating in the destruction of ‘the woman.’  Before the 2016 presidential election, there were numerous problems between women that hindered our collectivity: the doubt in our power as a collective because of the systematic socialization to make women believe they are always in competition with each other, the failure by many white women to understand and incorporate the issues of women of color into their idea of feminism, women participating in the fallacy that speaking the truth about equality and the sexual culture in this country equates to lesbianism and hate of the family, are a few.  But for women to partake in the travesty that is this presidency, they allowed themselves to be used to divide women further and betray their own needs.

I heard all the explanations about the anger and disillusionment some women felt about politicians and their belief that Trump was the candidate that cared about their needs.  That is not the reality of the situation; those are pretexts.  There is no rational reason a woman would vote for a man, who himself, presented evidence of his longstanding misogynistic ideology and callous mindset towards women.  Let’s settle this once and for all: the words and behaviors he has exhibited over the last 30 or 40 years towards women are not just about sexual harassment; it is about what those words and behaviors mean for women in his presence and whether he views a woman as a person.  Stop telling us, “He didn’t actually grab a pussy so what’s the problem?”  The problem is someone whose view of women is that distorted will never have a woman’s interests, needs, or wants as a part of his agenda.  Regardless of what he says, Trump sees women as less than and will treat them as such.  So when a grown woman attempts to defend the misogynistic belief system of a man and continues to excuse his misogynistic beliefs and behaviors, that is powerful – which means there is something powerful behind it.

From the beginning of the campaign, I made it clear how I felt about women who supported Trump.  I do not believe these women are naive.  I do not believe they are delusional.  I believe white women exhumed their true inclinations of racism and/or self-hatred as they now had a potential leader who felt the same.  These women have friends and family who want to believe they are just misguided and do not really believe in this man.  They are incorrect.   You can not support a racist and claim not to be a racist.   The views and perspectives of a racist are filtered through their racism.  If you support a person like that it means your views are filtered the same way.  The women who voted for him knew his knowledge was insufficient for this job,  he did not have a plan for any of his ‘ideas’ and he said awful things about women, minorities and the disabled with no apologies.  His female supporters will never make me believe they thought he was capable of doing this job.  But White women did like the racist statements he was making about making their country white again…I mean great again.  Their desire to have a whiter world created a worldview based in lies, misrepresentations, and exaggerations.  They used that view to justify their racist behavior and lie to the people closest to them.  Their belief system is askew, not their belief in him.

When I made these statements a year ago I did not understand that for many White people, believing in this reality is difficult and hard to comprehend.  When we think of racists, we do not automatically think women….we think men.  Women can be racists too.  But when you live in a bubble it is hard to believe a bleaker, uglier world exists.  I lost count how many times I saw White women write and talk about how they did not know.  They did not know there were so many racist men hiding their true feelings.  They did not know there were so many men who were hiding what they truly believed about women.  They did not know there were women who would vote for a man who openly degrades women.  White women were living a life that allowed them to be oblivious and unconscious to the abhorrent things happening in this country.   When videos of cops harassing and/or shooting unarmed people of color was all over social media, many White people understood we weren’t making it up; before the videos, those same White people believed Black people were embellishing.  The white bubble burst when the female racist was revealed and White women saw female Trump supporters were prepared to betray all women and themselves.  When the election ended and White women realized a Black man could get elected in this country twice and people would not even consider electing a White woman, they understood they were not being told the whole truth.

There were also women of color who supported and voted for Trump.  As with White women, I do not believe these women are delusional or naive.  I also do not believe they are racist; I believe women of color who voted for Trump have a lot of self-hatred.  Again, there is no rational reason a woman of color would choose to elect a racist misogynist.  Trump made it very clear how he felt about women and people of color during his campaign.  In order for these women to decide they should vote for him, they had to disregard their womanhood and disregard that they are a person of color.  You can not ignore either of those things when the platform of the man you support is based on destroying your womanhood and people of color.  I am not sure how all people of color treated their Trump supporters, but unlike many White supporters of Trump, I know many Black supporters were shunned and trashed by their people.  When Omarosa Manigault tried to make connections with Black people after the election, she was booed wherever she went and she claimed her family would not even talk to her.  Chrisette Michelle, who sang at the inauguration ball, had so many people come for her on social media she had a nervous breakdown.  And Tina Oliver, a highly regarded gospel singer, was harassed incessantly online and lost ratings for her very popular reality show after trying to explain why she voted for Trump.  This is a democratic society.  Everyone is allowed to vote for whomever they choose and believe whatever they want.  But when some Black women chose to support the candidate whose goal was to suppress their existence, the rest of us had a hard time accepting this, as he was trying to suppress our existence as well.  In voting for that man, Black female Trump supporters renounced parts of who they are and they do not have the luxury of a bubble.  And although some people may accept a Black woman’s abdication of being a woman, most Black people can not accept their abdication of being Black.  I would guess the same is true for most people of color.

Everything we have seen over the last two and a half years has happened because of what these women did.  The tweeting, the wall, Puerto Rico, Charlottesville, the protest of the Black men being killed in the streets by cops, birth control mandates being rolled back, no reform to the ACA, an entire government cabinet being gutted in the first seven months, Russia hacking the election, passing that awful tax plan, DACA, and so many others.  They had the power to stop all this and instead they let their racism, privilege, and self-hatred turn our country into a place of fear for many of its citizens.   If there was a more competent person in office, every single one of those things may have been handled differently or not occurred at all.   I know we did not have a lot of good choices, but I can not understand voting against your own self-interests.  These women allowed a man-child to take over our highest office and make a mockery of it.  His female supporters do not understand what their misguided beliefs and decisions gave power to in this country.  They do not understand their racism contributes to sexism.  When these women chose racism and their self-hate over their own self-interests, men understood the issues of women could be sliced apart and put on a shelf or thrown away altogether. They knew they didn’t have to worry about women becoming a cohesive mob to stand against them.

This presidency created a fracture between women that is worse than it was two years ago and it was a big fracture back then.  If we want to close some of the gaps we let them create between us, women need to accept some difficult truths about themselves and their reality.  First, all female Trump supporters need to admit what they have done, accept responsibility and really evaluate why they would vote for someone who hates them (in other words, admit their racism and/or self-hatred). Until these women can explain to themselves why they would allow a part of their identity and being to be devalued in the conversations about the world they live in, we can not come together and have any meaningful dialogue about our beliefs and principles. 

Second, some White women are going to have to decide whether they want to keep pretending their circle is not tainted.  I watched after the election as some people ended friendships and disowned family over Trump.  But there were many who chose to agree to disagree.  Be clear: anyone who supports Trump is against women.  They will try to trick you with ‘politics is not family’ or ‘my beliefs don’t pertain to you’.  They are lying.  They support a man who doesn’t believe in a woman’s fundamental rights as a human being. How do you agree to disagree about that?  Attending rallies and marches is great, but those are usually attended by like-minded people.  Being uncomfortable and making others around you accountable is what is necessary if we want change.  The racists that marched in Charlottesville didn’t back down because Black people showed up, they backed down because people who looked like them showed up and said ‘we will not accept this bullshit’.   The fight against the intolerant will not be won with passivity, fear, one-sided compromise or without adversarial interactions.  The intolerant must not be allowed to keep perpetuating the myth that they want inclusiveness.  When you live in a society where a group of people are pretending to want democracy, justice, and fairness, there can truly be no democracy, justice, and fairness. 

Finally, all women will need to come to terms with what being a woman means when you live in the United States.   There are places in this world where women experience horrors most of us couldn’t dream in our darkest nightmares, but we have issues and problems in this country that are real regardless of the perspective they are imagined: many men do not see women as equals, many men view women as merely body parts, and in some instances men do not see women as human beings.  This narrative of women has existed for as long as women and men have been around.  And although there have been some positive changes in this country in the almost 200 years since White women started fighting for their right to vote, they are not enough to warrant any woman allowing themselves to be used as pawns in this farce of a presidency.  This lack of perspective on the part of female Trump supporters is part of the reason they can lie to themselves, their families, their friends and allow themselves to be lied to.   We no longer live in a country where we can pretend we don’t see what we see; where we can pretend the misogyny is not real.  Until we can all admit the truth, men like Trump and his friends will continue to splinter our gender and cause us to question our collective power.  

 

The segregation of women and the fight ahead

Since the beginning of time, women have been socialized to consider other women their enemy.  There are some women who believe a woman can be her strongest ally and confidant and therefore see all women that way.  But this is not the case for the majority of women in this country.  We see this depicted in movies, hear it in music, see its acceptance in our neighborhoods; we watch as it develops in our schools, churches, and businesses.  Then add divisions by race, religion, ethnicity, culture and politics and it becomes a society of women of a few instead of an entire society of women.  This long-term practice of isolating women from each other has helped to create a society that would allow a man like Donald Trump to be elected as the President of the United States.

I believe we have always known this construct existed, whether it was in our sub-conscious or we were fully cognizant of it.  We didn’t create any of the situations that allowed for the segregation of women, but we fully participated in its use to control us.  And whether we knew or not, participated or not, we let it get so bad that many women began to deny what they saw happening to our sisters.  They either turned their heads and said nothing or they allowed themselves to rationalize away the violations inflicted upon women.  The violations ranged from media created to depict women always in conflict, to women making less money than a man for the same job, to the institutionalized condonation of assault against women.  When an entire society, including women, contribute to this thought process, some women begin to believe it.  The outcome of the elections should not be a surprise to anyone.  These women did what they have always done; they ran instead of fought.

All this socialization is hard to overcome without some intervention.  Many of the women who have this mindset will never receive that intervention either because of narrow mindedness or dogmatism.  So, we have a group of women who believe they are not a part of women as a whole.  When a man comes along and shows them the misogynist he is, it was easy for many of these women to believe he was talking about the other women (us).   They failed and still fail, to understand, they are us.  The vagina, that scares so many and gives life to all, is the one and only thing that will NEVER allow a woman to align with these men.  This is a hard concept to accept when all you want is for your world to be ok.  These women want there to be a difference so they don’t have to get involved and fight.  These women don’t want to be the agitator men claim we are.  These women don’t want to be seen as us.

Regardless of everything written above, we cannot abandon them.  We need them as much as they need us, even if they don’t know it.  I believe all of ‘us’ know, that if all women became a cohesive unit, we would take over the world.  And men fucking know it.  It’s the reason they’ve been trying to keep us apart and we allowed it because of our insecurites, our need to please and our training to not speak for ourselves.  We have been a divided queendom for a very long time.  Someone mentioned to me the other day that because so many White women aligned themselves with that woman hater and his cronies, Black women should be fighting for Black women, Latina women should be fighting for Latina women, etc., etc. before helping any other woman.   I told them, normally I would agree with that, but we no longer have the luxury of doing that.  At this point in the history of women, with the elected officials we have, we all have to stand together to ensure our future.  It means that the issues that were ignored before (the issues of Black, Hispanic, Native American, Muslim, Asian and any other marginalized sisters) need to be heard, considered and added to the needs of the majority.  It means that there can be no offense taken at things that make us uncomfortable.  It means White women are going to have to put aside their automatic defense of their privilege.  And it means those of us who were not heard before will have to have patience with those who now need to listen and learn.   It is the only way we can fight for ourselves and for those who left us to fight.

 

An open letter to Ivanka Trump and female Trump supporters

Dear Ivanka Trump and female Trump supporters,

For the last few weeks I’ve been planning to write a post regarding Donald Trump’s treatment of women over this entire election.  Then I watched The Essential Donald Trump on CNN where you, Ivanka Trump,  were interviewed for the show.  You were asked if your father was a sexist. You responded,  your father is not a sexist and you would not be the woman you are today if your father was a sexist.  After hearing that statement, I realized my post needed to be directed towards you and the women who support your father.

First, to Ivanka Trump.  I don’t need to go into all the things your father has said about women over this campaign.  We all know what he’s said.  You said in the interview, that his words don’t matter; what matters are his actions.  I would argue that you are incorrect.  Do you know how many serial killers, rapists and pedophiles have wives and children they go home to every night? Do you know how many of them go to church on Sunday, go to work everyday, behave in a manner where no one notices them and are revered by their friends and family? What I’m saying is actions don’t mean shit.  People can and do hide their true selves from their family, their friends and the public.  The fact that your father put women in positions of power doesn’t mean he’s not a sexist.  I believe the women your father put in positions of power is a diversion.  It allows your father to seem as if he trusts and respects women because they hold important roles in his company.  And that would be true, if he wasn’t confrontational with every woman who questions him, apologized for the atrocious language and behavior he has exhibited and did not engage in unsolicited physical contact.   You may not be a part of the diversion, but you’re his daughter and I believe he loves you.  Of course he doesn’t treat you as he treats other women (at least I hope he doesn’t), so you would have no concept of how your father really feels about women.  Furthermore, his words do matter.  We are living in a world where men believe it is the woman’s responsibility to prevent their own sexual assault and/or rape.  Your dismissiveness of your father’s words, allows men to believe your father didn’t do anything wrong by kissing women without their permission, walking in on women while they are getting dressed and that his description of how he interacts with women when he meets them is normal.  You have to understand that every time you treat your father’s words and behavior as insignificant, you are validating and encouraging a very dangerous thought process regarding women.  You are not responsible for someone’s thoughts or actions, but I believe you have a responsibility to speak the truth and not contribute to the already volatile atmosphere we live in as women. 

I understand completely why you are supporting your father and unlike most people, I am not expecting you to go against him publicly.  Now, whether you support him because you don’t want to lose your position or because of blind loyalty, I don’t know.  What I do know, as a woman, I hope you are at least distressed about what you are doing and I hope you are telling your father in private how fucked up his behavior has been.  If you are not doing that Ivanka Trump, you should be ashamed of yourself.

To the female Trump supporters.  I have watched for almost a year and a half as you have supported a man who has been showing you for a year and a half that he has no respect or regard for women.  Any man, who 90% of the time he comes into contact with a woman, has conflict, has a problem with women.  This particular man has been exhibiting this behavior and mindset for years.   You were confronted with video and audio proof that he regards women as objects.  Your response to this is that men were just being men.  Do you even realize that you are perpetuating a culture that allows men to believe women who have been inappropriately touched, sexually assaulted or verbally abused, shouldn’t take it so seriously? Do you understand you are teaching the young men in your lives this kind of behavior is ok?  I’ve listened to you in interviews and on the campaign trail and I know you want to believe you’re not the same as the women who refuse to support Donald Trump.  To Donald Trump you are the same.  The fact that you support him does not mean he sees you as a person.  To him, because you are a woman, you are us and we are you.   The fact that you don’t recognize that is an awful feeling.  For weeks, I have been distraught because I am a staunch feminist.  I don’t care what color you are, where you come from, how much money you make or your beliefs; if you are a woman, I want to speak for your rights.  Even now, I have to fight for your fucking rights even though you are not fighting for yourself and are willing to put my freedoms in jeopardy.  As a woman, I am disappointed, heartbroken and ashamed of each and every one of you.  This election and your behavior has men asking how women expect to be respected and treated equally when they are willing to support a man who thinks they’re a pussy and tits.  The only thing I can hope for at this point, is you teach your daughters to have more respect for themselves than their mothers have displayed.  Your daughters cannot think Donald Trump’s behavior is how a man should behave.  It will lead to abusive relationships and years of self loathing.

Ivanka Trump and the female Trump supporters, I want you to understand that regardless of everything I have written above, I understand why you’re voting for Trump.  You can’t tell me it’s because of his plans, because he doesn’t have any.  You can’t tell me it’s because he knows so much about foreign affairs, economics, immigration, education or healthcare, because he knows nothing.  You can’t tell me it’s because he’s so charismatic and smooth, because he never answers a question and loses his cool all the time.  And you can’t tell me it’s because he’s a good business man, because he’s filed bankruptcy 13 times.  The only reason you would support Trump is because you hate yourself as a woman, you’re a racist, you hate Hillary, Barack and the Democrats so much that you are willing to put a narcissistic, sociopathic, misogynistic, xenophobic, racist in office.  Or it’s some combination of the three.  Along with all my feelings of anger and hurt, I feel sorry for you.  I feel sorry that you don’t know who you are, who you could be and understand your place in this world; I’m sorry that you don’t understand you’re a part of the feminist movement because you’re a woman; I’m sorry that we still can’t stand together against men like Donald Trump because of women like you.  I know none of this will change your minds, but I’m angry and I want you to know how I feel.  I don’t have the answers to everything, but I know supporting a man like Donald Trump will only lead to the downfall of all women, including you.

Sincerely,

Cynthia Pulley

 

 

 

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