<![CDATA[Women in the United States struggled many years to win the right to vote, and we still have not been able to win the presidency. At least fifty-two other countries in the world have had a female head of state—some countries multiple times—but we have not. Hillary Clinton’s recent run was not successful, but she took us one more step along a very long journey for women in the United States. Gail Collins of the New York Times reminds us that when women implored the men writing the US Constitution to include women’s rights, the men laughed and ignored the request. It took almost another 150 years for women to win the right to vote in 1920. Once the struggle to win the vote got underway in earnest, it took fifty-two years of nonstop campaigning to win, and the campaigns were often met with violence, arrests, and mockery. We won the vote, but we still have not gotten the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) passed, which would put American women into the Constitution. I marched in the streets for the ERA and cried when it failed to pass. I am still waiting. Collins notes that even after winning the vote in 1920, women did not vote as a bloc; they voted more like their husbands, “on the basis of ethnicity, economic class, and geographic location,” a pattern that was also reflected by white women voters in this election. Collins points out that, unlike in the Civil Rights Movement, “where black Americans had grown up as a separate group, victims of endless injustice and brutality,” and fought together against the white majority (and are still fighting), white women were not a separate enslaved group. Collins explains that while white women had precious few rights themselves, “they were living in the bedrooms and parlors of the male authority figures. . . . When they rebelled, they were laughed at.” As we just saw in the 2016 election, women are still not a voting bloc. In fact, Susan Chiara explains that 53 percent of white women voted for Trump. Joan C. Williams, writing in the Harvard Business Review, notes that although a majority of married women, college-educated women, minority women, and unmarried women voted for Hillary, “WWC [white working-class] women voted for Trump over Clinton by a whopping 28-point margin—62% to 34%. If they’d split 50-50, she would have won. Class trumps gender,” and it probably always has. Chiara cites Nancy Isenberg, author of the book White Trash, as saying, “class shapes gender identity.” Chiara notes that racial fears and perceived competition with African Americans and immigrants for good jobs and opportunities are a higher concern for WWC women than is sexism. This may illuminate why the release of the Access Hollywood tapes with sexist remarks by Trump about women did not turn many WWC women voters away from Trump. The fact that Hillary Clinton ran for president as the first-ever female nominee of a major political party is a step along the road for US women. Margaret Chase Smith and Shirley Chisholm were the first women to try for the nomination of the Republican and Democratic parties, respectively, but they did not win their party’s nomination. Now Hillary Clinton has broken that barrier. She did not win, but Sarah Lyall describes the profound moment for many women on Election Day when, carrying with them mementos of long-dead grandmothers and mothers, they finally got to vote for a woman for president! Women proudly marched to the polls in groups wearing white to symbolize the suffragists, in pantsuits or wearing “Nasty Woman” t-shirts. Groups of women put flowers on the grave of Susan B. Anthony, who fought for suffrage but died before women’s right to vote became law. Mothers drove daughters past the childhood home of Hillary Rodham Clinton in Illinois to point it out to them. Hillary Clinton did not win, but she took us the next step along the path. Thank you, Hillary. Hillary Clinton speaking with supporters at a town hall in Manchester, New Hampshire © 2016 by Gage Skidmore, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 ]]>
3 thoughts on “The Long March to Break the Highest Glass Ceiling: The Next Step Taken”
Well done, Anne! My thinking about this past election aligns with your analysis. We have a lot to learn about dominance, subordinance, class, gender, race and their intersectionality. We are way too blind about too much that defines our world.
Yes! to your comment, Teressa.
I attended my first monthly White Caucus meeting in Durham, NC. last night. (There is also a Black Caucus meeting at a separate time) These groups are sponsored by Organizing Against Racism (OAR) and most of us have attended at least Phase I training with Racial Equity Institute (REI) Mostly women; wide range of ages (I think I was the oldest at 79) Leaders said it was the largest number of people they have had.(25/30?)
I will go back next month and ask if participants would be willing to talk about the class we each identify with. I’m guessing there are no working class-women and that we would all identify liberal/Democrat.
The primary focus of last night’s conversation was identifying our personal experience with Internalized Racial Superiority (IRS)
Great work you are doing, Anne. I often share your articles with others.
Thank you, Teressa and Murry. We have to keep our country moving forward somehow, and not backward. Thanks, Murry, for your commitment to racial justice work as a white person. Very important.