Last year I had the opportunity to meet a woman at one of my favorite stores to work in, and she was very ‘special'(wink wink). She was young, ambitious, and loved to talk about her job. She also loved to talk about how great her college education, and her MA program were, and how difficult it was to be accepted into the program that she graduated from. Needless to say, she was very proud. I was not mad at her at all! I thought that it was great that she took pride in her profession and her education. A few weeks later, I learned that she was married, and lived near my favorite store. I saw her about once or twice a week, and whenever I would see her, she would be talking to someone about her job. A few months later, I learned that she was expecting, and her whole conversation changed. She went from being a proud college graduate with a super fancy advanced degree with a job that ‘made a difference’ in the community to being a housewife now celebrating the accomplishments and achievements of her husband often borrowing those accomplishments to one up as many regular single people she could. Eventually, she had her beautiful baby, and now bragged about the joys of motherhood, being a housewife, and you guessed it, her husband.
At the beginning of November, election month, I had the pleasure of doing little miss housewife’s makeup for an event. She was going to an event with her husband, and wanted to look nice, but not too “made up” because she wanted to look good but not stand out in front of her husbands peers and their significant others. The whole time it took me to do her make up she explained that her political views were conservative because her husband and his families views were conservative, and that because of her husbands job and his income, she would vote for the republican candidate i.e. Donald Trump. I realized then that the woman I had first met, an independent career woman, who was highly educated and prided herself on having her own thoughts and ideas had sold herself for a marriage, financial security, and a baby. Suddenly I flashed back to my senior year of college to a scene where something similar took place.
I was waiting patiently outside of a dance studio with a few other dance majors. While we were waiting to enter the studio and take class, I overheard many of them discussing the status of their relationships with their boyfriends. Many of them made comments stating that because we were in our last year of school, this “was it”, and that they would just stay with their current boyfriends after college and “hope for the best.” I got the feeling that they each thought they had run out of time to find the best guy, and that for some reason, they needed to settle and stick it out with their current partners.
Another experience that reminded me of “little miss housewife” was at an office job that I absolutely hated. I worked with a doctor who was getting married to a lovely woman who had a law degree and was pursuing an MA in another subject. When asked what his future wife’s plans for her career were going to be once they got married, he said she wanted to be a housewife. Now with every situation I was thinking, why in the hell would you go through applying for college, taking out student loans that you may never be able to pay off, studying for the GRE, the LSAT, etc… all to get married and throw all of that hard work and debt to the wind?
I had a few theories, and this election proved one of them to be true. One of the things that all of these women had in common was that they were all white women. Another thing that these women shared was their desire to find a husband and get married. They all seemed to put marriage at the top of their list of priorities, and seemed eager to ditch their individual career paths in exchange for a husband. I realized that culturally there was a fundamental difference in how white women and black women were raised. While society places marriage as the most important achievement for women on this planet, most black women I know have been raised not necessarily to get married, but rather to survive.
We are encouraged to go to school and finish, get good jobs or become entrepreneurs(black women are the fastest growing population of entrepreneurs in the country), raise children alone, provide financially, mentally, and physically for our families, and last week the burden placed on our backs was to “save the world”by giving our collective vote to Hillary Clinton. Since slavery the black women’s role in this country has been to essentially replace the black man as the head of the black household. It was a defense mechanism for mothers during slavery to make the men docile and more effeminate in an effort to keep them from performing their “manly duties” to protect their families thus getting themselves killed. Many would argue that centuries later, our roles have never switched back, and that would help to explain why instead of running out to get married and vote the way our husbands and boyfriends voted on November 8th, like the 52% of white female voters, we did the exact opposite, and voted for Hillary. Charles D. Ellison from theroot.com wrote an article on November 9th, titled “Black Women Were the Only Ones Who Tried to Save the World Tuesday Night Black female voters—when they had no real cultural or social obligation to do so—stayed on course with Hillary Clinton even while white women coolly abandoned her.”
Now I personally know a ton of white ladies that voted for Hillary, and some of them are feminists that did not and do not put their careers and lives second to their boyfriends or husbands, but the moral to this story is that the majority of white women in this country did. Last Tuesday many men ended up voting twice once themselves and a second time through their wives and girlfriends, and that boys and girls means that we have a ton of work to do. Before we believe that a woman can be president, we first have to believe that we are more important to this world than only being wives, girlfriends, and mothers. Each of those titles are important, and I am absolutely positive that being a mother is the hardest job on earth, but it is 2016, and women can be great mothers, and hold down full time jobs, and be educated, and have our own opinions, and be leaders of the world, and participate in healthy intimate relationships where we do not have to trade in our individual thoughts and opinions, or votes for our significant others. Here’s to four years of absolute uncertainty!!