Friday, November 25th 2016
Excerpt: This is a bonus episode of PERIOD podcast about the US Presidential Election.
Summary: Since I scripted this episode and it’s just me, I’m able to provide the full transcript. Enjoy.
My name is Kate Clancy and this is a bonus episode of PERIOD Podcast.
I want to have a quick conversation with women. White women in particular. And I want to give you a content warning: since I’m talking about the Trump presidency I will be talking about sexual harassment and assault, as well as their health consequences.
White women? White women. Fellow white women. I am talking directly into your ears. 53% of white women voted for Donald Trump. As has been pointed out by many others, a majority of white women chose their race over their gender. They chose a candidate endorsed by the KKK, a candidate who called Mexicans rapists, who says Black people live in hell, and who wants to create a Muslim registry. They chose a candidate who mocked a man with disabilities, mocks women when they don’t meet his beauty standards, and uses LGBTQ people to appear socially progressive, only to throw them under the bus with a homophobic Vice President.
They chose a man who cracked jokes about sexually assaulting women, and has been accused of sexually assaulting women.
A majority of my people voted for him anyway.
I’ve heard the populist rationale. It’s about white working class people being left behind, right? Right. With unemployment this low, with the number of college graduates this high, with a President who worked hard for the working class, bailing out car companies to keep those jobs in the United States and creating affordable health care, the working class got left behind.
I don’t buy it. The Black working class voted for Clinton.
This is about race, everybody. This is about pretty much nothing but race.
53% of white women chose their race over their gender. You might be one of them. If you aren’t, you undoubtedly know women who are. The question is: what are you going to do? Are you going to engage, have the hard conversations, use the love you have for the white women in your life to help them choose against racism in the next election?
There’s a simple exercise you can do to get started, one that I learned recently from a social justice educator at my local YWCA. Answer the following questions. You can do this alone, but it’s even better if you do this with a group of similarly-minded friends.
- First: what are the risks of speaking up when someone in your family perpetuates racism or bigotry? You will undoubtedly come up with a few. Take a minute and write them down.
- Next: what are the risks of NOT speaking up?
- Finally: what are the kinds of ways you can intervene in problematic behavior with the people you love?
For me, the risks of speaking up are losing relationships with people that I love, and losing those relationships to my daughter. The risks of not speaking up, for someone like me who does not have a reason to fear physical violence and is already pretty geographically isolated from family, are greater. The risks of not speaking up are not staying to true to what I believe in, not being a role model to my daughter, allowing people I love to continue to move through the world with incorrect information, and, most of all, I know that the biggest risk of not speaking up is that there are real lives on the line. More people will die under a Trump presidency than would have died under a Clinton presidency, and the damage of the next 4 years will possibly be felt for decades. The people who will be hurt the most by this are going to be women and men of color, immigrants, Muslims, and LGBTQ folk, even more so for people who hold multiple of those identities.
If you are a white woman listening to this, get with me. We have a job to do. There are evidence-based ways to intervene, you have only to Google it. But here are a few I like best:
- Continue to provide accurate information to loved ones when they say things you know are wrong.
- Aim for two-way communication: people are more likely to engage with you if they also feel heard (which means you also must actually listen, not just wait for your turn to speak). Ask questions, give them time to lay out their thinking.
- Focus on changing behaviors rather than beliefs. What this means is, when a family member makes a racist joke, you can tell them it’s inappropriate, or how it makes you feel. It doesn’t particularly help to call them a racist.
- If it’s safe and healthy for you, decide to have long-term relationships with people rather than cut them out of your life. That said, there are times when, for your own mental health, it makes more sense to step away then step towards problematic behavior.
In particular, white women, get your fellow white women. I’m leaving sanctimonious Bernie bros and unabashed red MAGA hat wearing grandpas to the white men. But you have grandmothers, mothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, nieces, and friends to go get, so go get them.
Finally, I want to address a question you might have about this mini-episode, and that’s why is a period scientist telling us her opinion about white women and the election? Aside from the part where I feel it’s my duty as a white woman to address other white women, and the part where I want to make it as clear as possible to women of color that I will try to have their back? Let me tell you.
First, as a scientist, I am worried about funding under this administration, and Republican administrations more generally. Second, as someone who studies periods and women’s health, I have seen the consequences of limiting health care access to women, which also tends to occur under Republican administrations. I think we have even more reason to worry with Trump and Pence, because of Trump’s discomfort with menstruation, as we saw from his comments towards Megyn Kelly, and Pence’s unlawful attempts to limit abortion access in Indiana.
I am worried about domestic violence increasing in the wake of this likely Trump/Pence electoral college win. I am worried about increases in sexual harassment and assault. Sexual trauma increases the risk of chronic pelvic pain, fistulas, and premenstrual syndrome. Do you know what a fistula is? Let me tell you. A fistula is a hole between tubular organs. They can form as a complication of labor, and then it’s usually a hole between the vagina and rectum or bladder. But even increases in obstetric fistula have been linked to rape.
So an America that is more violent towards women is also an America that makes women sicker. Even when the violence is emotional, there are many of the same health consequences that I mentioned above. In the case of premenstrual syndrome, emotional abuse is an even stronger predictor than sexual abuse. Now, women are resilient and awesome, and the last thing I want to do is create a narrative about women that is just about being a victim. But I am also tired of the barriers that prevent us from leading full lives without fear, and the additional barriers of racism, homophobia, transphobia, and more that put folks with multiple marginality at even greater risk.
I hope you had a good Turkey Day, all. If you avoided talking about how this upcoming presidency made you feel, or you didn’t interrupt problematic behavior in your family members yesterday, it’s ok. But you have to start that work today, ok? If you feel like you can’t do it alone, join one of the many private Facebook groups, join Standing Up for Racial Justice, or join United to End Racism. Listen to and follow women of color.
I love you, PERIOD Podcast listeners. Do good out there. And get your people on the right side of history.
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I can’t wait to hear what you think! Thanks for listening!
Direct download: here