Yes, white women in the United States are second class citizens. It is sad and tragic but true. White women are second class citizens professionally, politically, socially, and in every other objective way. This second class status is due to current systemic sexism as well as the past history of our nation going back to independence day and the constitution. And white women being second class is not my opinion but the statement is based on facts.
I know racist and/or sexist people. I have been talking to professionals, and even my therapist, on how to deal with these individuals who are in my life. While the professionals have told me, and based on my experiences I know that it is probably impossible to have a thoughful, fact based conservation with these racist/sexist people, if/when the time comes the approach I have decided to take is to first see if the person(s) can agree to the fact that women are second class citizens – to see if they can at least agree that there is systemic sexism in the US (and of course most parts of the world).
The reason for me in using that approach is it is almost certainly harder for a racist white person (whether women or male) to relate to and understand racial inequality. But maybe (just maybe) they can at least agree (as a starting point to a thoughtful, educated, fact based discussion) that there is systemic sexism and agree that by almost every objective measure white women in the US are second class citizens. But this hope that someone can see historic and current sexism (as a “starting point”) is probably me just being hopeful! Ha!
White racist/sexist males that I know, if they can’t even agree, and are so ignorant, to that fact that white women are second class systems due to systemic issues and history, then there is ZERO chance they will see the larger systemic racism issues (and sexism) in the country. If they can’t bring themselves to see that white women are STILL second class citizens, then there is ZERO chance they will see that black people have faced systemic racism for centuries (and still do). The same applies to white women…if they can’t even see that they have never been and are still not provided the same opportunities as white males, then what is the point in even talking to them about larger issues in our society?
Many of the professionals I spoke too thought this could be a good approach. But they did think in general that any effort I make is hopeless. As most white people are not thoughtful enough, refuse to do the work to learn about history, lack empathy, rely on fake or incorrect “news” and/or people will never “grow” or evolve to try to learn. But if/when I see these racist/sexist people, I still need to decide whether to be pr-active in communicating this stuff and speaking up pro-actively, or only reply once I hear another sexist or racist comment (which I have been hearing for years). But regardless, I am not just “biting my tongue” anymore and will be speaking up.
Just a few of the countless examples of the past historical and current sexism and racism
As just a few examples, how many white people know about the Cornerstone Speech, given by the Vice President of the Confederacy, in which the VP announced the Confederate government (nation and its people) was founded on the principle that blacks were inferior to whites. In this March 1861 speech, Alexander Stephens said about the Confederacy “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”
Now remember that as you read the next section in red so you can follow the simple logic. The Vice Presidency of the confederacy said the confederacy was about white supremacy.
Now think about this. I will make it as simple as possible.
- The south had slavery and set up a government/confederacy/”nation” that was all about white supremacy.
- The Confederacy lost the Civil war and the Union Army occupied South as part of Reconstruction until the mid 1870s.
- Right around the same time the Union Army was leaving, the south went right back to white supremacy in the form of Jim Crow laws (which were segregation/taking away black peoples rights)
It is really that simple. Use common sense….If the Confederacy/south was not about white supremacy, then why the F did the southern states go right back to white supremacy laws at their very first opportunity?
How many people know about Jim Crow laws which allowed segregation (white supremacy)? How many people know that right after the Union army left the south that the southern states (and others) went on to segregate blacks from whites using these Jim Crow laws. As I said, that action in effect proves that the nation (in particular south) firmly believed that blacks were inferior to whites. As the states and the white people, at their first possible opportunity, the states and their population went right back to treating blacks almost the same way that they were before the Civil war. Do people know that Jim Crow laws (which allowed segregation/white supremacy) lasted until as late as 1965 and the Civil Rights Act?
Think about this…we as a nation consider independence day July 4, 1776. But black people were not independent (free) in 1776. They were not independent/free until hundreds of years later. White women were not given equal rights in 1776 and were not independent/free in 1776. Do most people think about this or know this? In some ways independence day in 1776 was just for white males! Sad but true, and people can make this argument that July 4, 1776 is White Male Independence day, and there is much truth to it.
And of course racism did not go “magically” go away with the Civil Rights Act, but rather black people only Finally had some legal rights. How many white people know that over 1 million black Americans served in WW2, and they were segregated even as they served our country during WW2? How many white people know what many colleges did not accept women until the early to mid 1900s or later; even Harvard Law School did not accept women until 1950. How many people know that some southern schools were STILL segregated as late as the 1970s? How many white people know that Woodrow Wilson re-segregated the federal government during the 1910s, thereby reversing what tiny progress had been made up until then? How many people know that Segregation in the US lasted until 1965….which is the current generation of Americans? How many people know that pregnant women could still be discriminated against as late as the mid 1970? How many white people know that the WW2 GI bill (which lead to an incredible boom in educational achievement and housing after WW2) discriminated against women and black people?
While it is close to, if not impossible, to discuss anything with most people these days, the point being if someone can’t see and agree to the sexism that white women face today, then there is no way they can relate to racism of black people. As most people are not thoughtful, do not use critical thinking, and have no knowledge of past history. And what is maybe most tragic., most people show no willingness to learn, educate themselves or grow. And they are not open minded and even willing to have a thoughtful, fact based “un-emotional” discussion.
Why are women second class citizens
For those that don’t know, one definition of second class citizens is “a person belonging to a social or political group whose rights and opportunities are inferior to those of the dominant group in a society.” And white women in the US unfortunately fit that definition perfectly. Their rights and opportunities are inferior to the dominant group, white males. (and of course black people are also sadly second class citizens).
While I am a horrible writer (LOL) as I am a math and numbers person, logic based, analytics, data driven person, etc., I have been “writing” about these issues for a while. But lets recap a few things. Women are paid less than men. Women make up a tiny fraction of executives, CEOs, board members or leaders of companies. Almost 60 other countries have had one or more presidents or PMs and US still has had zero. Women are not given same opportunities around technology. And once again, those examples just scratch the surface. Read more on systemic racism and sexism.
All of that above, while as horrible as it is, is OBJECTIVE, fact based data.
But lets go on. 26% of women have reported to have been stalked (4 times more than men). A range of 25 to 75% of women have been sexually harassed at work. 20%+ of women have been raped vs 1% of men, and we can go on and on. Over 55% of female surgeons (some of most educated people in world) say they have been sexually harassed. Not to mention countless horrible court cases that have gone against women, even those that have involved rape when a judge slaps the rapist on the wrist (such as the Montana case in which the rapist got a 30 day sentence). Or we can talk about women being cast called at, stared at, and harassed in countless other ways. And as I always say, I am writing this as a white privileged male and have not lived any of that…i can only learn from reading and/or talking to others. Or how about women being exploited at work and being forced to do things for promotions or to keep their jobs….Roger Alies, Matt Lauer, Weinstein, and countless other examples.
All of that above is also OBJECTIVE, fact based data. But granted some of it is surveys, but even counting for a small margin of error or even some questionable claims, the sexism of what women face in society is so outrageous that even if there is some noise in this data it is clear that women are second class citizens.
Second class citizens history
For those that don’t know, the constitution of the US and even the 1965 Civil Rights act did not give women equal rights. (I suspect most people do not even know that). There was a constitutional Equal Rights Amendment that was created in 1972 but has not been ratified by enough states yet. It is incredible….going back to 1776 women were not and still are not today guaranteed the same rights as men.
For those that do not know, The Constitution did not prevent discrimination based on sex/gender, nor did the 14th amendment or civil rights act fully address that issue. The proposed Equal Rights Amendment simply says “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” But that simple amendment can’t even be passed by enough states, even though it should have in a heartbeat.
Now think about this. White women have been fighting for ~140 years for equal rights (since the 1880s). Even after 140 years of fighting, they are still second class. Even for those people who know nothing about history (which is most people and sadly most make no effort to learn), ask yourself this. Women have been fighting for 140 years and are second class. Do you really think black people, who have only been legally able to fight for 50 years, are treated equally in this country? If you know nothing about anything or history, just try to use some common sense….women have been at it for 140 years and are still way behind…do you really think black people (who have not even legally been able to fight for their rights until 1965), would be any better?
Racist and sexist people
So that is a very basic, 10,000 feet level recap of history and data. I tried to keep it simple! As I said, it can usually be impossible to talk to people about this/have a thoughtful conversation. I have heard from multiple people, and see from my own experiences, that most people are just ignorant to our nation’s history. They get their “snippets” of polarized/biased news from Facebook or some news station like Fox and/or CNN. And they never take time to actually research things on their own using different historical sources. Or they never try to “challenge” their biased assumptions. (On another note, learn about Unconscious Bias)
Instead of educating themselves, people spend hours per day on social networks, youtube, watching TV, Netflix, etc. Lack of knowledge, while making no effort to learn, is extremely sad but is basically the baseline of most people. And while there is nothing wrong with not having knowledge, but what is 100% WRONG is to not make any effort to learn. And it is DANGEROUS to have opinions if you have no knowledge on a topic (which is sadly what the vast majority of people do).
I think it can be hard for most white people, especially the vast majority that are ignorant to history, to be able to relate to racism of black people and minorities. Maybe it possible for these people to relate to issues faced by white people? But of course, only as a starting point.
This is why I will try this approach, as I do know racist and/or sexist people. As when dealing with a white person, if they can’t even first agree that white women are second class citizens due to systemic sexism, then really that ignorant person is quite frankly hopeless. If they deny the fact that white women still do not have the same rights as white men, then they are quite frankly hopeless to ever seeing the larger systemic issues in this country that are faced by black people, women, Hispanics, and others.