Hate. Loathing for the other. That’s what the US election came down to, didn’t it? That more people in the US were prepared to run with their hate and their fear of people that are different – immigrants, Muslims, non-Americans.
But break down just one of the statistics of who voted for whom, and another sort of hate becomes apparent. Which one? How women voted.
According to exit polls published by the New York Times 42% of women voted for Trump. In Trump, a man who views women primarily as sex objects, a man whose sexism and misogyny is legendary, who talks of women “bleeding from their whatever” but is happy to grab them “by their pussy”, who condemns women who are fat, who judges his own daughter by her sexual attractiveness and is on record as saying that men should “treat women like shit”, in this man, 42% of American women found someone they could vote for.
When you break down that figure more you discover it was not black women that voted for Trump. CNN’s exit polls revealed that only 4% of black women and only 26% of Latina women voted for him.
Why the difference? Is it because white women are above all racist? I don’t know and as a white woman, I can only comment on what might be happening for other white women.
And what could be happening for white women, what might have allowed so many women to vote for Trump, is internalised misogyny and internalised sexism.
Georgina Dent wrote yesterday about the Australian men chanting their support for Trump by chanting “grab her by the pussy”. There is no doubt that we will see much more of this open sexism and open misogyny in the years to come because by electing a rampant sexist, misogynist who for years traded on competitions where women are judged on their physical beauty, and who regularly trades in older wives for younger ones, a view of women as objects has been legitimised.
But this has long been how white women have been viewed. Women have always known that in society’s eyes our worth belongs in our looks, that if we are fat we are not truly acceptable, that we are subject to everyday sexism and that our safety, even at the hands of those who love or profess to love us, is in question. (65 women killed in Australia in domestic or family violence situations so far this year cannot help but cause us all to feel fear.)
And because we have known this for so long we have internalised these beliefs. So many of us have internalised the sexism we are surrounded by from birth. We have internalised the hatred of women that we know fuels the very attitudes that Trump embodies. And because we have internalised it we believe in ever so subtle ways that these assessments of us are true. And if they are not true of us, then clearly they are true of other women. We learn to not like and to mistrust other women from an early age.
When we feel bad about ourselves and other women, it can come out in us undermining and attacking other women. In believing every bad thing we read about Hilary Clinton.
Sexism and misogyny are so pervasive that most men do not believe they hold these beliefs. Donald Trump seems to truly believe he loves women. And likewise it is hard for many women to understand the depth of the sexist beliefs we hold about our own sex. The subtle internal misogyny that allows us to believe that Hilary is corrupt. The internalised sexism that makes us just that much more comfortable with the idea of a man in charge than a woman. The sexism that causes us to wonder if Clinton really had the stamina for the job. The sexism that leads us above all to stick with the familiarity of a male in charge as opposed to the unknown territory of a female commander in chief.
Hate. It was an election about hate. Where hate was used by Trump to whip up fear so he could then cast himself as the rescuer, the person who would build walls, exclude and use weapons to ensure that people’s fears would not come to pass.
So of course 42% of white women voted for Trump. Because white women understand hate. We have been hating ourselves for so long, that self-hatred feels normal. We may well hate people of different skin colours or religious beliefs as well, but we hate ourselves more.
Until we unlearn our internalised misogyny and learn to reject self-hate, we will keep voting for the Donald Trumps because his views on women are not really that much different than our own deeply secret, rarely admitted ones.
And unless we work on this, unless as women we start to unpick this learned hate for ourselves and other women, we are going to keep siding with the enemy.
And siding with the enemy sometimes has very scary outcomes.