Inequality Among Women Is Crucial to Understanding Hillary's Loss
Working-class women who voted for Trump tell us a lot about feminism's relationship to class politics.
Publisher: The Nation
Date Written: 11/11/2016
Year Published: 2016
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20124
The outcome of the 2016 American election was, like any, multi-causual. In addition to factors of racism and sexism, economic inequality, specifically economic inequality among women, must be identified as an additional culprit.
The class divisions between women came to a head in the 2016 election, when Big Feminism failed women, big-time. Mainstream feminists sold women a bill of goods, arguing that the election of a woman president would improve the lot of women as a class. Echoing Sheryl Sandberg's dubious thesis, they claimed that leadership by women will as a matter of course produce gains for all women -- though actually, the social science evidence for this claim is mixed at best. There was also a lot of talk about how having a woman president would "normalize" female power.
But if you're a woman living paycheck to paycheck and worried sick over the ever-diminishing economic prospects for you and your children, youre unlikely to be heavily invested in whether some lady centimillionaire will shatter the ultimate glass ceiling.
In these white working-class communities, it is the women who have experienced some of the worst hardships. You may have heard of that famous study that showed that showed an unprecedented decline in longevity among white Americans who lack college degrees. But most media reports missed a crucial point: As the statistician Andrew Gelman pointed out, "Since 2005, mortality rates have increased among women in this group but not men." And in addition to economic insecurity and rising mortality rates, working-class women have suffered from another indignity: invisibility. During the campaign, there was a blizzard of articles about the concerns of elite Republican women and white working-class men, but practically nothing about female members of the working class.