Opinion

I Thought Women Would Block Trump. White American Women Proved Me Wrong

I had assumed that women would protest sexism and sexual assault at the ballot box, and vote instead for the first woman president. But, it appears, race is stronger than gender.

People embrace while watching a television displaying 2016 U.S. presidential election coverage at the El Pinche Gringo bar in Mexico City, Mexico, November 8, 2016.
Bloomberg

Nov. 9, 2016: Diary of a Female Journalist

Some of us arrived in pantsuits, some of us in white.

Hundreds of young women, starry-eyed, hopeful, white, black, Hispanic, Asian — still savoring the excitement of filling in that circle next to a woman’s name on a major party ticket. On the way there, I began drafting my victory article; I imagined how one day I would tell my child that I was there for this moment, the first woman president in American history. This was going to be her coronation ceremony.

In the media room, the mood was jubilant for a while. We grabbed snacks, chatted, took selfies. America as we knew it was safe.

But, slowly, the needle on the New York Times meter began to tip. The numbers reversed. The chatter died down. Reporters took their seats to watch what would unfold. Murmured expletives all around.

The tension rose.

Audry (L), McKayla(2nd-L) and Vaughn(C) Gosssen of Grand Haven, Michigan wait in line to see Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Grand Valley State University on November 7, 2016 in Allendale, Michigan.
AFP / Jeff Kowalsky

We could not believe our eyes as another America appeared on the screens in front of us — a red, raging country, a nation which believes in a discourse of all-caps, and a country which has willfully swallowed the heinous rhetoric our lives have been poisoned with for this past year, and chosen this. This.

If there is one image that I will come away with from last night in the Javits Center — it is the stunned faces of my fellow young American women, many of them journalists devoting their careers and lives to free speech, watching our beloved democracy elect a man who has repeatedly lashed out at the 'liberal media elite', calling us "slime" and "lying and disgusting people".

We, we twenty-five year olds with passion coursing through our blood, our foundations built upon a conscious choice of ethics, equality, diversity, the very backbone of this country, the very thing this nation’s forefathers bled and sweated for, the very soil soaked in the fight for equality: We, yes we, with our iPhones and top-knot buns and snarky tweets, are the evil, liberal, elite media.

(Note: The Internet’s white supremacists continue to remind us that we are also a Zionist conspiracy — somehow, too many of my fellow Orthodox Jews choose to ignore the ugly, anti-Semitic reality behind these accusations, and instead joined in blaming ‘media bias’. Simply read their blogs and social media posts: No, he is not racist, he is not misogynist, he is not a bully, he is not he is not he is not: This is all merely bias, they explain.)

It has never been a more unsettling time to be a journalist, a woman, and a Jew, in this country. Let alone a mother.

Yet he has won, among white women, 53% to Clinton’s 43%. How exactly did that happen?

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton greets supporters during a rally at Eastern Market November 4, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan.
AFP / Brendan Smialowski

I suppose it still shocks us that white women vote more on partisan lines than gender issues. For some strange reason, we expected women to be concerned about the rights to their own bodies, or about a candidate’s blatant utter disrespect for the female sex. Yet we forget how many American women are religious, and will vote based on their pastor’s fiery sermons, and perhaps even more, how many American women accept sexism as the norm. ‘Men will be men,’ they joke to one another, giggling.

Comrades, American machismo has returned.

And so we are left to face the reality: The average American woman is unbothered by misogyny. For all of our progressive feminism, for all of our New York (and San Francisco and Boston, etc) values, for all our indignant mansplaining posts, our worn copies of ‘Lean In’, our conferences on gender equality in the workplace: We are reminded that American Woman is still light years behind our starry-eyed white-pantsuited imaginations. We are still unable to elect a woman to the highest office in the land. This country still chooses a man with a record of sexual harassment first.

And perhaps what is most disturbing? That white anger trumps gender equality in this country.

I am most upset by the women’s vote in this country because my deep belief in women’s innate sense of empathy and compassion for the downtrodden has been shattered. It’s not just Susan B. Anthony weeping in heaven today. It’s also Clara Barton, Mother Theresa, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Florence Nightingale. It’s Irena Sendler and Miep Gies, the most famous female saviors during the Holocaust, who showed compassion for the other at the risk of their own lives.

I imagined that white womanhood looked different in 2016. Instead, too many American white women are celebrating today, all the while wondering aloud about whatever they shall do without their Hispanic house help.

Dear female journalists: Never has there been a time when your voices should be heard more clearly. It is upon us to remain vigilant. To decry immorality, and irrationality, in this country with more vigor than ever before. Desist from the rot that is plaguing this country’s very soul.