Williams is free to tell every white woman to vote in her “self-interest”, but white women’s self-interest will always spell disaster for the rest of us.
Having white faves is a dangerous fucking game. And something about having that orange baboon in the office has made white folx…sloppier than usual. I was reminded of this during the Golden Globes this past weekend. I watched as Michelle Williams, one of two white women I had previously pledged to at least not shoot in the race war (the other one being Jane Fonda) cross the staged to accept her award for her performance in Fosse/Verdon. I smiled as she prepped to give her speech and then found myself scowling at its conclusion. And what was the line that did it, you ask?
“So women 18 to 118, when it’s time to vote, please do so in your own self-interest. It’s what men have been doing for years”.
Now, I’m aware that Williams is giving this speech in the context of Roe vs Wade being under attack and the ongoing fight to keep abortion legal. But understand when you tell a room full of (wealthy) white women to vote in their best interests, you’re sending a very specific message. And it’s a message that is a moot point because white women already vote in their self-interest.
The last time it just gave us Trump.
The 53% is not just some random number people made up after the 2016 election to bully their chosen Becky. On the contrary, it was the percentage of white women who tipped the scales of an entire election boldly in favor of an overt racist and misogynistic predator. Someone who, on paper, should spell disaster for them as women. But you’d be sorely mistaken if you think that the average white woman is going to risk a moment of discomfort in service of women when whiteness is at play. For whiteness grants white women upward mobility. And in a perfect world [for them], that would be the end of the conversation. However, because they are not [white] men, patriarchy steps in and stops them short of unlimited power. So then you get three flavors of white women: there are the white women who resent this and vow to fight patriarchy—not whiteness. There are the white women who are content with this limited power under whiteness and do much to preserve it—including voting for an orange dickhead. And then there are white women who actually want to burn all this shit down. But they’re infinitesimally rare. Like unicorns. Or Mewtwo. Plus, the first two are just really two sides of the same coin. They’re both on the same team, just trying different strategies. Surely there’s hope for them, right? Eh, not when what’s a stake for them is the unlimited power that white men possess. You can hope that white women voting in their “self-interest” is gonna somehow yield some good for the rest of humanity.
But being that altruistic would mean that they face the possibility of having to share this aforementioned power with other groups like, say, Black women, and undermine their own position in white supremacist hierarchy.
And unfortunately, it has never mattered that both groups are women and share that experience. This was a notable impasse during the earliest waves of the [whitewashed] feminist movement. Suffragist kweens Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Staton are still held as shining symbols of the suffragist movement, even though the former was famously quoted as saying “‘I will cut off this right arm of mine before I will ever work or demand the ballot for the Negro and not the woman’’ and the latter was later exposed for holding some pretty fucking racist views about Black people—the sexuality of Black men in particular. But if you really wanna see what white women acting in their own “self-interest” looks like, look no further than when the 15th amendment passed and [hypothetically] gave all men—including Black men—the right to vote, leaving women behind. And what immediately happened? Well, white women like Frances E. Willard, the national president of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and a powerful force within the suffragist movement, threw everyone under the bus to drum up support for the movement by appealing to the base racism of other white women in the South.
She famously told The New York Voice that “The safety of [white] women, of childhood, of the home, is menaced in a thousand localities” by, apparently, “great, dark-faced mobs”…pissing off every Black woman who was in the movement with her (like Ida B. Wells). And, mind you, this is a woman who’s parents were abolitionists.
But none of that shit matters because, you guessed it, whiteness.
Whiteness will always put white women ahead of every and any other social group (save for white men) as long as it exists. And white women will always have a vested interest in voting for policies that protect and preserve its supremacy, even if that is in direct conflict of what they want and technically need as women. So while Williams is free to tell every white woman to vote in her “self-interest”, she—and everyone else—should know that white women voting in their “self-interest” will always spell disaster for the rest of us.