Words || Lucy MacCulloch
In the 2016 US election, 51% of white women voted for Donald Trump.
In a campaign marked by blatant misogyny, ranging from the now notorious “grab ‘em by the pussy” comments to the presidential nominee being accused of raping a 13-year-old girl just months before he took to the Oval Office, this fact can seem like a confusing betrayal. Sure, just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you’re obligated to vote for a female nominee just because she’s a woman, but why vote for someone who only values you based on where your rockin’ bod ranks on a scale from 1-10?
While we like to distance ourselves from the exploding car wreck that is currently the United States, it’s undeniable that Australia has its own share of apparent hypocrisy: Michaelia Cash, who threatened to slutshame every woman in Bill Shorten’s office, not to mention all the women who voted for Tony Abbott despite his less-than-stellar track record, whether it be trying to block access to the abortion drug RU486 as Health Minister, or anything listed by the far more eloquent Julia Gillard in her iconic speech. Of course, there are plenty of women who agree with Tony Abbott’s pro-life, conservative values, but could there be something more underlying these women’s “anti-feminist” choices? I decided to find out.
(Spoiler: there is! It’s racism. Surprise.)
First up is Australia’s own political commentator Daisy Cousens, who you will know if you regularly watch the Bolt Report. I am not one of those people, but I was vaguely aware that she’d gotten into a feud with staple TV feminist and author Clementine Ford. Purposefully and pointedly wearing red lipstick, lace and a pearl necklace, Daisy asserts that feminism ultimately victimises women rather than empowers them by making up problems, such as the gender pay gap and racism. Instead, their main aim is to control women and make money. These money-making schemes are unclear.
Daisy also argues that feminism wants to turn women into men while repeating age old comments that feminists are illogical, irrational, over-emotional, and above all, hypocritical. The main evidence she uses to support these arguments is that she herself was hounded by Clementine Ford’s followers on Twitter for disagreeing with their feminist overlord. She manages to somewhat undermine any legitimate criticism of feminism she may have by then stating that conservative women are scientifically hotter.
This emphasis on appearance is a recurring theme in most anti-feminist arguments, usually as a rejection of body positivity or the deliberately unfeminine, which notably leads to exclusion of queer women. The appearance of these women is very important to their predominantly male viewers as well, leading to the comment section of such Youtube videos to be dominated by comments talking about how hot they are or attributing their success to their looks, even while they dismiss them as being dumb, ditzy attention whores.
Next we have Canadian Youtuber Lauren Southern, who recently gifted Australia with her presence and tour merchandise featuring t-shirts sloganed with “feminism is cancer”, “turn back the boats” and, “it’s ok to be white” (she was also denied entry into a Lakemba mosque for being a disruptive racist but who cares). Indeed, this apparent need to defend whiteness is why 51% of white women voted for Trump, or why One Nation exists. Klan before hoes, I guess.
Just as a lot of anti-feminists want to go back in time and return to “traditionalism”, the further back you go, the closer to Nazis you get – except you really only need to scroll halfway down a Youtube page and then surprise! Swastika! Any female Hitler fans out there will be pleased to know that one of Australia’s main Neo-Nazis groups, Antipodean Resistance, recently released their own women’s alliance where you can garden, sew, and cook while your male comrades (shit, is that offensive?) go out hiking and train in martial arts. Presumably, breeding will also be part of that arrangement, because how else are you supposed to fulfil your duty of carrying on the superior Aryan, box blonde lineage? Only white, heterosexual, mentally and physically healthy non-drug addicts need apply.
All of that said, there still isn’t a lot of spaces carved out for conservative, white supremacist women in Australia. For every diatribe on how the kangaroo is “the epitome of male dominance and masculinity” or #DingoTwitter, there’s no equivalent to sing the praises of the feminine, motherly marsupial platypus or #EchidnaPinterest. Well, at least not that kind. Likewise, women looking to join these male dominated spaces are still met with rape threats or accusations that they’re “ruining” the movement. I wish good luck to all these women out there fighting the equality they say does not exist.