Humor, Life

Penance for white women who voted for Trump, and for every other white woman, too

Oh, fellow white women. We have sinned, and BOY HOWDY is it gonna take more than a few rounds of the rosary to make good for this one.

Hello, fellow white women. We need to chat.

Ladies, we fucked up. Big time. Hugely, if you will. And no, it wasn’t just working class women, or women without access to education. This is on all of us.

[bctt tweet=”Hello, fellow white women. We need to chat.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Because while it was initially horrifying to see that most white women voted for Trump, a lot of the white ladies who didn’t, myself included, weren’t all that surprised. Sure, I was encouraged by those polls about women who were voting for Clinton despite their husbands. I had some hope that with Trump’s well documented history of misogyny and the prospect of finally having a woman in the Oval Office some right leaning women would cross party lines for 2016. Hell, I even had some faith that the obvious and virulent sexism targeted at Hillary Clinton would jolt some of us out of internalized misogyny.

Why, others may ask, would white women throw ourselves under the bus like this?

[bctt tweet=”Why have we done this to ourselves?” username=”wearethetempest”]

Anne Helen Petersen did an excellent job of explaining why in a piece she wrote for Buzzfeed:

They are the status quo — and, stated or not, they are fundamentally invested in maintaining the status quo, which includes white supremacy.

And part of that status quo is patriarchy: the notion that women will continue to be second-class citizens, subject to men’s understanding of what they should be able to do, touch, and grab when it comes to their bodies — and legislate and punish when it comes to their actions. I’m not suggesting these women have some sort of false consciousness — that they think they’re empowered, and actually aren’t — I’m stating that they fundamentally think disempowerment is okay, so long as they maintain their other (white, straight) sources of privilege.


We did this to ourselves because as a group we only care about ourselves. And, apparently, we think autonomy over our bodies and minds is a fair trade for white supremacy, and white supremacy is something we want. Because racism.

As someone who tries to be an ally I feel overwhelmed by guilt. I feel guilty that I didn’t do more to reach out and educate other white people on our privileges, and I’m sure I’m not the only white girl dealing with some self hatred these days. And feeling guilty reminds me of Catholic School.

I am, to put it mildly, a lapsed Catholic who remains trapped in cultural Catholicism, much like Jack Donaghy. And I’m dragging the rest of you down into my pit of guilt. The only way to get out? Penance.

That’s right white girls, we have wronged our fellow women, and to make amends we must take the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.  Bless us, Beyoncé, for we have sinned. It has been…a long time since our last confession, but about a week since we royally screwed over women of color (and everyone. and ourselves).

This is the part where normally the priest gives you an act of penance, but I’m going to step in here because step one of our penance is:

1. Take on the burden of emotional labor

Stop making people of color responsible for educating everyone else! Don’t wait for your racist cousin to come to his senses! Read up. Speak out. Acknowledge your own privileges. Work out the rest of your own internalized misogyny. Be aware of intersections. Don’t be a #WhiteFeminist.

We’re stronger together, and you know what they say about women who don’t help other women.

2. Act

Donate to organizations that will probably start suffering come January. If you see a hate crime in progress, do everything you can to help, whether that means stepping in yourself or calling for help. Volunteer to accompany people of color on their commutes if it would help them feel safer. I know we’re all honorary Catholics for this moment, but engage your own faith communities to stand up to bigotry.

3. Vote

Votes are what we need to be forgiven for, and luckily we don’t have to wait until 2020. When 2018 rolls around we need to get to the polls and get some people in Congress who will preserve our rights. And by “our” I mean “everyone” not just “white women.” Come on.

The Catholic Church is less than awesome, which I’m sure is news to precisely none of you, but this next part of penance is something they have right.

That gem of doctrine being that these three steps of penance are only the beginning. It’s not enough to pay lip service to being sorry, or to go through the motions of your penance. Unless you really and truly are sorry for what you have done, and unless you continue to show your contrition through your actions, you will not be forgiven.

Let us pray:

[bctt tweet=”Let us pray” username=”wearethetempest”]

May the Passion of our Mother Goddess,
the intercession of the Blessed Oprah, and of all the saints,
whatever good you do and suffering you endure,
heal your sins,
help you to grow in intersectional feminism,
and reward you with nothing, because you don’t deserve brownie points for basic human decency.

Go forth and do better, ladies.