Aya de Leon

author – activist – faculty – mom

Trump and White Women Part 1: Rape Culture and Siding with the Abuser

trump-can-grabI am a cliché—one of the millions who got this election completely wrong. I see many contending with a newfound understanding of the depth of this nation’s racism, or particularly the racism of white women. But none of that was news to me. I was woke to the racism. My blind spot was the depth of white women’s internalized sexism. I completely underestimated how Rape Culture would shape this election.

After PussyGate, I just knew it was a wrap. White women weren’t going to vote for a perpetrator. He was caught on tape. He actually had to apologize. And then women began to come forward with stories of how Trump had assaulted them. The All-American-Girl People Magazine reporter. Plenty of women. Game over. Yes, I saw the photos and footage of women with Trump signs and t-shirts. But I thought they were a fringe element. An extreme faction. A minority.

But it’s a story as old as patriarchy. How many times have I heard women tell stories of being sexually abused by their fathers, uncles, stepfathers, mom’s live-in boyfriends? They speak of telling their mothers. “You whore!” the mothers roar back (in an affront to whores everywhere). “Filthy lying whore!” And they cast their daughters out into the street, or worse yet, the daughters continue to live under the same roof with their abuser and his cheerleader.

It is this betrayal that I didn’t see coming. Perhaps because when I was molested in kindergarten (outside the family, by an older neighbor kid) my single mom went to his single mom and threatened to “beat the shit out of him” if he did it again. Their family moved away. I learned that sexual abuse must not be tolerated. And that women protect their daughters. Years later, I also learned how to heal from the traumatic residue of the abuse.

But many women aren’t protected. And many women don’t heal. Epidemic levels of sexual and gender-based violence affect all women to various degrees. Between child sexual abuse, other forms of abuse in girls’ childhood homes, and domestic violence that women experience as teens and adults, women in our country are collectively traumatized. Rape Culture places blame on the victim: she deserved it, and dominant Christian narratives command wives and daughters to “forgive” the perpetrators, but forget about scriptures of justice and consequences.

The patriarchal narrative is that father knows best and stand by your man.

The victim blaming stance is simultaneously that he didn’t do it, and that if he did, it must be her fault.

As a mother, I have a visceral response to even the idea of someone sexually abusing my daughter. I understand how my mother could threaten that kid. How much would I personally have to be traumatized to have my motherly instincts broken? In order to allow someone to hurt my child? And I know, there are survivors who will read this and think I’m making excuses for privileged women, who will say but I was brutalized and it didn’t confused me into siding with the perpetrator. But many women do side with perpetrators; some women even become perpetrators.

There are so many complex and tangled reasons why women respond differently to sexual and gender-based trauma, but this election has revealed to me how widespread it is to side with the perpetrator in Rape Culture.

Trump was the beneficiary of thousands of years of patriarchal training. Shut up. Scorn the woman. Stand by your man.

What we saw play out in our election is the politics of of trauma on a grand scale. The deep well of hatred for women could be leveraged against Hillary. I have many differences with her, but I woke up the day after the election in gratitude for her willingness to stand against Trump. While we need to hold white women accountable for their racism, I see a lot of bashing of white women, and I think that response also falls squarely within the patriarchal narrative of blaming women. To be clear, I am here for POC’s rage about this election, yes, we have a right to be furious about racism and a right to express it. But white women haven’t just sold us out, they’ve also sold themselves out. That 52% isn’t going to have it easier under Trump. That is the lie of patriarchy: that women can give up their rights to dominating men, and that those men have their best interests at heart. As Indian/British writer Meena Kandasamy put it, “This is what your everyday sexism and rape culture has led us into–where even the most structurally privileged women have swallowed their shame and have normalized your violence.”

img_1065Also, I have heard some folks blaming white feminism, which doesn’t make sense to me. White feminists were the 48% that voted for Hillary. She was their girl. My takeaway is that this election shows how many white women are not feminists, and just how many hits feminism has taken from years of backlash and co-optation that have undermined its effectiveness.

My takeaway is that feminism needs to expand its reach. We need to develop more resources to give women—particularly women in rural and heartland regions and Bible Belt regions—tools to make sense of their experiences of trauma outside of Rape Culture’s patriarchal explanations.

As a black feminist, as a mom, and as an activist, I am clear that we have so much work to do.

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10 comments on “Trump and White Women Part 1: Rape Culture and Siding with the Abuser

  1. Annaham
    November 13, 2016

    Wonderful post, Aya. ❤

  2. Susan
    November 13, 2016

    Thank you for these insights. I didn’t realize until I read this just how much they needed saying.

  3. Jim Bowman
    November 14, 2016

    Aya, you really punch it out. Congratulations. One thing: If white women betrayed the cause, what about black men and women who did not vote? I refer to the Democrat strongholds in Philly and elsewhere who did not materialize. You’re not the only commentator sliding over this issue, sister if you will to the supposed whitelash.

  4. Max Benser
    November 24, 2016

    MONEY IS LAW, NOT REASON!!! GENESIS 2:17.
    “There are so many complex and tangled reasons why women respond differently to sexual and gender-based trauma, but this election has revealed to me how widespread it is to side with the perpetrator in Rape Culture.

    Trump was the beneficiary of thousands of years of patriarchal training. Shut up. Scorn the woman. Stand by your man.”

  5. Max Benser
    November 24, 2016

    MONEY IS LAW, NOT REASON!!! GENESIS 2:17.
    “There are so many complex and tangled reasons why women respond differently to sexual and gender-based trauma, but this election has revealed to me how widespread it is to side with the perpetrator in Rape Culture.”

    Poor Womens sale her Vaginas, because MONEY!!!
    Rich Womens shaws her Ass and Vagina too, for a big MONEY!!!

  6. Max Benser
    November 24, 2016

    WOMENS-PRIESTS AND THE BIBLE-RAPISTSBOOK!
    Womens-Priest sales Rapepropagand in Name of biblical God!!! Numbers 31:18.

  7. Max Benser
    November 24, 2016

    Where is a morals diference between Bill Clinton and Womenspriest? If we talking
    about Rape in ther Bible and Bill Clinton as serial Rapist?!!! The Priestwomens are
    worse as Bill Clinton or Donald Trump!!!

  8. Max Benser
    November 24, 2016

    WHO SUPPORTS THE BIBLICAL RAPECULTURE AND RAPEEDUCATION?!!!
    1. Womens-Ev. Priests in USA and Europe too!!!
    2. Mothers with the Bible at Home too!
    3. Hillary Clinton too!!!
    4. Hillary Clinton: The Bible is ‘the biggest influence on my thinking’

  9. Max Benser
    November 24, 2016

    WHO SUPPORTS THE BIBLICAL RAPECULTURE AND RAPEEDUCATION?!!!
    KILLING OF PEOPLE, ANIMALS TOO, VERY BRUTAL!!!
    1. Donald Trump
    2. Ivanka Trump!

  10. Sara Wright
    January 26, 2017

    Women blame is endemic in our culture – it’s horrifying and the one reason I suspected that Trump would win…Hillary was slaughtered during the campaign by women haters both women and men. Woman Hate is alive and well. Until we SEE that and stand what we see – we can do nothing to change it.

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This entry was posted on November 12, 2016 by in Uncategorized.

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