White Women, Women’s Rights and the Republican Party

More white women are joining the ranks of the Republican Party and are rolling back the gains women achieved during the Women’s and Civil Rights movements. The Women’s Rights movement was really about White women’s rights. Had women of color tried to gain their rights before white women, white women would have stood side by side with racist White men to stop this endeavor. There would have been many arrests and perhaps killings; women of color would have been fired from their demeaning jobs; and the Constitution of the United States would have been used to justify these arrests. U.S. society has shown that persons of color can rise up in protest and fight for their rights but not until whites have achieved their rights. Since White women always have been part of the “race, class, and gender” divide, they usually achieve their rights before Americans of color can achieve theirs, hypothetically. However, Black men got the right to vote in 1870 (15th Amendment) 50 years before white women (and black women) won the right (in 1920, 19th Amendment):

Many states, North and South, required payment of poll taxes, property ownership, or literacy as a condition of voting. The 15th Amendment did not address any of those stipulations. Feminists, especially, fought against the amendment because women were not included in the guarantee of suffrage. (source)

Today, no matter the qualifications of women of color, white women had to be the first individuals to break the glass ceiling. They were first to have access to education, first to hold professorships, first to become presidents of universities, first to hold political offices, first to become vice-presidential candidates, and first to run for the office of the presidency. Even if women of color had stellar qualifications and were more qualified than white women for professional jobs, for example, systemic racism would prevent them from being hired in a job perceived for “whites only.”

Michele Bachmann / Sarah Palin Button 2010
Creative Commons License photo credit: Mpls55408
Former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin (former Alaska governor) and Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) have rolled back the gains women have achieved during the Women’s Rights movement. Women fought for their rights and this was no easy feat. Palin, a contributor of Fox News is an appointed designee to carry out the radical agenda of Fox News, to keep alive the barrage of criticisms and attacks on President Obama and the first lady. She’s forever discrediting the president’s policies, initiatives, and performance, when she could not complete her term as governor. When former first lady Barbara Bush criticized Palin during an interview with Larry King, Palin retorted and called the Bushes “blue-bloods.” When Senator McCain’s daughter criticized Bachmann stating that she is “not a leader, and she’s not the leader of the Republican Party” and called her a “poor man’s Sarah Palin,” there was no sound bite from Palin or Bachmann. Had Michelle Obama suggested that Palin remained in Alaska, Palin would have maligned and called her a “racist” because she is the wife of her perceived nemesis. No matter what President Obama does, there’s Palin criticizing his performance and telling her base she could a better job. But what’s missing in her ability to do it better than Obama is the unveiling of her plan to show us how she would do it better. Bachmann, a Tea Party darling, appointed herself to critique President Obama’s State of the Union address on January 25, 2011, and she was highly criticized for it, even by Senator McCain’s daughter (see this link for more details).

Both Palin and Bachmann were/are considering a run for president in 2012. But the problem with these two women is that they have no fundamental understanding of American history. Palin makes up words like “refudiate,” when she should have said “repudiate,” in her criticisms of the building of the Muslim Mosque near ground zero Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.. Palin cannot tell commenters what books she has read on “America’s greatest leaders.” When she was criticized for making up words, she defended her ignorance, likened herself to Shakespeare, and played the “victim.” In fact, when Palin speaks on issues to which she tries to discredit President Obama, she makes absolutely no sense. In similar manner, Bachmann has shown a real misunderstanding of American history. Bachmann claims that the founding fathers worked “tirelessly” to end slavery, when many of them owned slaves.

Clearly, Palin, a highly paid court jester for Fox News and Bachmann, a sycophant for the Republican Party, are not qualified to be president of the United States. Both Palin and Bachmann lack knowledge about the history of this country. Presidents cannot afford to make up words or engage in constant criticism of their enemies, which is undignified behavior. If presidents spend time defending every criticism lodged against them, they would never get anything done. If presidents do not have a good understanding of American history, they would be considered un-American. Perhaps Palin and Bachmann were whisked through college without learning a thing. Many political pundits and politicians have called President Obama un-American when they themselves do not know American history that well. If you ask the average American citizen about the slavery or the Civil Rights movement, they would not be able to demonstrate that knowledge. However, it is a sad day in our history when elected officials are unaware of these important U.S. events.

Since Palin and Bachmann are engaging in political behavior practices that go against the continued “race, class, and gender” struggle for women’s rights, history shows us that

White women wanted equal rights and slavery abolished, but, they didn’t want to be equal to Blacks, even after the Civil War.

We must ask ourselves, are White Republican women like Palin and Bachmann in complicity with their own oppression? Do they desire to take the master’s place? Consequently, are these women operating out of the typical patriarchal frame from which they were nationally emancipated in order to please their former oppressors by reversing the gains women made during the women’s rights movement?


  1. Joe

    Mary, thanks for the excellent post. It seems like they are operating out of both the old white racial frame and an old patriarchal frame. How do you see this two old frames interrelating these days?

  2. phelonn

    The white racial frame and the old patriarchal frame are interrelated and do overlap. They both operate out of a broad worldview that treats communities of color with hatred, hostility, insolence, and intolerance. Both frames see through a hegemonic lens, where racial ideologies, stereotyping, and bigotry are seen as normative practices. These practices are deeply embedded in the minds, souls, and everyday activities of whites and go unnoticed and unchallenged, if noticed, by most whites in general because these practices are maintained through the legitimation of systemic racism. After all, America was founded on racism, bigotry, hatred, and hostility. Historically speaking, many whites have taken their frustrations and hostilities out on communities of color and blame(d) them for the ills of society without ever accepting any responsibilities for the racism, classism, and sexism they created. My next post will go into more details about these two frames.


  1. The White Racial Frame and the Old Patriarchal Frame: Are they Interrelated? :: racismreview.com

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