One of the bitterest disappointments for me of the post-election coverage has been to discover how deeply and immutably sexist many of the intellectuals in our country still are. If Hillary had won, the glass ceiling would have been the central narrative throughout the mainstream. Yet now, those analyzing the election–white men, men of color, and sometimes women too– focus on the economy and class and sometimes race, acting as if gender played zero role in Hillary’s loss. Apparently, now that we don’t have a woman president after all, they have decided it’s preferable to ignore the elephant in the room in favor of the larger patriarchal good of leaving women’s concerns unspoken.
So one needs to read between the lines of much of the post-election coverage (unless it’s published in an explicitly feminist magazine) in order to learn about the role of gender in the election results. The information is still there, though, as it is in an article in Sunday’s Portland Press Herald focusing on the declining factory town of Mexico, Maine–which went 67% for Obama last election and 42% for Hillary this time.
It is overwhelming to imagine the lives behind the quick quotes from women whose husbands voted Trump (remember, these are the people who bought the “Trump That Bitch” t-shirts and listened to the litany of chants of “lock her up!” that were the steadiest part of the background noise of Trump’s campaign). Of their wives, several voted for Trump out of antipathy for Hillary–they “just couldn’t trust her.” Another actually voted for Gary Johnson because she was offended by Trump’s sexism but “couldn’t bring herself to vote for Hillary.” The saddest one of all, stuck between Trump’s sexism and her hatred for Hillary, stayed home and didn’t vote at all. One working class white woman quoted in The NY Times said she wouldn’t vote for Hillary because of the hacked emails, especially emails from Hillary to Chelsea; she is quoted as saying “You don’t email your fucking daughter when you’re a leader.”
These poignant examples of internalized misogyny don’t lead the intrepid male reporter who wrote this story to draw any conclusion about gender playing a role in the election. He chalks the whole loss up to the economy. If Hillary had won, he and all the other reporters would certainly have been ready to focus on the “she broke the glass ceiling” narrative, but as soon as it became clear how strong the patriarchy still is, rather than understand women’s oppression or empathize with our suffering, they have dropped women, and gender awareness, like a hot potato. And now women friends everywhere, of any sexuality or race, are being pushed off the sidewalk and told “get in your place, woman” and “watch out, little bitch, it’s Trump’s America now.” Is the media who has conveniently forgotten since Tuesday that there is a political glass ceiling also going to pretend that this kind of sexism doesn’t exist either?