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In the midst of celebrating Doug Jones winning the Senate race over Roy Moore, a disturbing fact has come to light. Although Jones successfully defeated Moore — who has been accused of sexual misconduct with minors and has been removed twice as the Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice — to become U.S. Senator for Alabama, 63% of white women still voted for Moore. Since a majority of white women also voted for President Donald Trump, we need to evaluate why this is happening.
As The Washington Post reported, exit polls for the Alabama special election showed that white women made up 31% of the total vote, and 63% of them voted for Moore. In contrast, black women made up 17% of the vote, and 98% of them voted for Jones. This is why #BlackWomen was trending on Twitter, since black female voters were significant in helping Jones defeat Moore.
If you are a white, liberal woman, your gut reaction may to feel that these white women who voted for Moore — like the white women who voted for Donald Trump — don’t represent you. While that may be true, it fails to acknowledge the deep-seated problem that exists in our current culture.
A significant percentage of white women apparently feel comfortable voting for men who have been accused of sexual harassment and assault against women. (And to be fair, this happens among Democrats as well as Republicans.) Even worse is that these women advocate for these politicians and help put them into the highest levels of public service.
Of course, many Moore supporters do not believe the women who accused him of inappropriate behavior when they were underage. Even before the election, Marcie Bianco wrote a piece for NBC about the white women who support Moore and partially blamed a long history of internalized misogyny. Looking at the results of a Washington Post-Schar School poll conducted at the end of November, Bianco wrote, “This internalized misogyny is palpable in the Washington Post-Schar School poll, in which women affirm they are more comfortable disavowing and discrediting women than they are disavowing men accused of sexually based violence.”
So did white women support Moore because they believe what has been wrongly ingrained in all of humanity for centuries? That men hold more worth than women?
Well, we doubt many women who voted for Moore would consciously think that. Plus, the political and religious beliefs that these women hold come into play (although, hey, those beliefs are also partly the result of patriarchy). Many of Moore’s troubling views stem from his “Christianity,” like being against LGBTQ rights, and it’s unfortunate that many white women stand with him.
What this comes down to is that women don’t see eye-to-eye on many subjects. Vox covered how 53% of white women voted for Trump and stated,
“This is not to say that these Trump-supporting women weren’t offended by Trump’s comments or actions. Rather, it unravels the common illusion that women are a cohesive voting bloc. Women’s politics are also shaped by other personal factors.”
In light of the preliminary exit poll results from the Alabama election, that’s something to be reminded of. This doesn’t give anyone who voted for Moore — or Trump, for that matter — a pass. It just shows that someone’s politics are far more complicated, and far more confusing, than what demographic they fit in. It also shows how women voters, like black voters, are often lumped into one voting bloc — and how inaccurate that can be since a demographic can be drastically divided. It’s also worth noting that white men aren’t bundled together like this when it comes to voting habits. But at least black women voters (as well as many black men voters) in Alabama were unified in doing what was right on December 12th.
At the end of the day, the only people to be blamed for white women voting for Roy Moore are the white women who voted for him. And while we’ll take a wild guess that many of the women who voted for Moore wouldn’t necessarily call themselves “feminists,” they’re actually doing a great job of proving that white women can be just as wrong as white men. How’s that for equality?
Snark aside, there’s no easy reason for why so many white women continue to vote for problematic male politicians. It shows that along with a large portion of this country, white women have a long way to go when it comes to progress. As Amber Tamblyn tweeted, white women need to be active in helping to solve this cognitive dissonance when it comes to their fellow white women. And while they’re at, they should be practicing intersectional feminism to support and advocate for all of their fellow women as well.