November 14, 2016

Sisterhood is a Myth and Additional Thoughts on How to Proceed Now

It's been a few days--almost a week, as I'm sure we're all aware--since the election, and I'm one of those folks who has thought about little else. And in that time, I've discovered a wide range of messages, one of the loudest being "SISTERHOOD!"

Sisterhood is an amazing concept. It's the idea that all of us ladies will team up and support each other and fight for the same causes. It's a great idea.

It's also a myth.

Here's a screen grab of a CNN exit poll from last Tuesday:

Please take note of where the blue is and where the red is: white women overwhelmingly supported Donald J. Trump, he of the pussy-grabbing and abortion-punishing.

White women, it is time to get our house in order before we go calling for "sisterhood". I'm just telling it like it is, because that, of course, is the new "normal".

Seriously, 53% of white women who voted said, "Huh, yeah, all men talk that." 53% of us said, "Oh, you know what, racism isn't so bad." 53% of them said yes to what Trump was selling, and that is sad. We let our sisters of color down--notice the margins for everyone else. 90 point different between black women who voted for and against, a 42 point difference for latino women. Respectively, that's 9 and 4 times the point difference for white women (and ours is in the OPPOSITE direction). They came out. They took up the mantle. They defended our concept of sisterhood.

And it's clear why this is: as much as we often are tempted to center conversations about gender around our oppression as white women, those who are at the intersection of multiple forms of oppression don't have that luxury. When we center conversations around ourselves, when we practice White Feminism, we have the privilege to say, "Okay, the rest of this stuff doesn't matter to me--it's about jobs or draining the swamp or whatever." Our "sisters," as we've often called them, don't have the same privilege. Donald Trump doesn't just threaten one of aspect of their identities--their entire existence is in peril, and it's our fault.

I know what some of us are thinking. "BUT I VOTED FOR CLINTON." Or, alternatively, "I DIDN'T VOTE FOR HIM DON'T YOU PUT THAT EVIL ON ME RICKY BOBBY."

When community members commit violent acts or cause harm, we expect them to speak out, and that is exactly what we must do now. White women did an irrevocable harm to this sisterhood. We said, "Your problems don't matter to us." We said, "Our problems are more important." We said, "We can deal with this other stuff later."

In the past week, I've seen folks lamenting the effect that this will have on women, and yes, that's going to suck. I've done it myself--remember my last post, when I asked everyone to donate $5 to Planned Parenthood? I promise my heart was in the right place, but I completely erased the causes that may be important to other people facing a complex interactions of oppressions. For that, I deeply apologize.

Yesterday , I was reminded of the concept of "triage." Though it's a medical term, it's also got a relevant definition for us. When you triage, you "the assigning of priority order to projects on the basis of where funds and other resources can be best used, are most needed, or are most likely to achieve success."

Right now, we need to triage. We need to look at what groups are the most vulnerable and make sure those groups are shored up first. We need to progress out from there and keep things rolling. This won't be easy. It may involve sacrifice. It will certainly mean looking outside of our immediate circles for many of us. But the time is now to figure out what our priorities are and how we can get things accomplished.

As white women, we're uniquely positioned. On the one hand, we have a small taste of the oppression that other groups face. On the other, we have a level of power that they do not. It will be up to us to leverage these two facets of our experience to generate as much protection as possible for our fellow citizens as well as for ourselves. Now's not the time to center our white womanhood; it's the time to realize that the sinking feeling we woke up with every day this week is just a sampling of what other marginalized groups, and those at the crux of multiple avenues of oppression, experience daily.

We've seen Trump's transition team appointments. Mike Pence as the chairman would--alone--be terrifying, but then we have people like Ken Blackwell, who believes that being gay is a choice, and Steve Bannon, who is a white supremacist, and Myron Ebell, a climate change skeptic looking to gut our emissions reduction efforts. There are populations in our nation that feel they are in imminent danger, and they are not without evidence to support the assertion, folks. This is where we are.

Here's a handy list of groups that correspond to different causes. Now's the time to put our money, time, and talents where our mouths are, and then maybe--just maybe--we can talk about sisterhood. We've got to do our part first.

I'll still be doing my Save $5 a Month to Donate, but I'm switching up the message. Pick a group that corresponds to what you're passionate about. Feel free to share in the comments.

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