It’s not a cop-out in the slightest — it’s all still the same dominance hierarchy. The gendered aspect of patriarchy is only one facet of it. You have correctly stated that White women are further up the pyramid of hierarchy and that Black women are at the base, meaning they get the worst treatment as a demographic, even amongst those who are educated and middle-class. As I’m sure you are already aware, the maternal mortality rate amongst Black women is a scandal and unlike anything else in the developed world. This isn’t only amongst poor Black women either. The racism they experience is literally life-threatening.

It’s why so many White women voted for Trump — they may not ever be able to reach the apex of power and privilege, but they can at least align themselves with the powerful White men who are, and keep everyone else from encroaching on their position, even if that position is only second place in the dominance hierarchy. Patriarchy has a gendered component, but it is ultimately about stratification of all kinds.

“Social Darwinism is a zero-sum game. If someone wins, that means someone else has to lose. Trump’s followers want to be sure they aren’t in the loser category. A 2017 analysis of exit poll data confirms this as relates to female voters who opted for Trump. “Researchers Cassess and Barnes concluded that White women with less education and money (and opportunities) wanted to keep the advantages they had compared to non-white women.” For more about this, read here.

Aligning with Trump means that “lesser” peoples such as immigrants, the disabled, Blacks, and women will understand that they ought not to get too many ideas about moving up the food chain. The people who voted for him did so largely to ensure this.

We desperately want to believe that we are in control of our lives and determine our own fate.

Because of this, we tend to believe whoever has the most power in the hierarchy; pedophile priests over children; those nice young men from the football team rather than the girl they assaulted, the White woman who says that a Black kid whistled at her. We want to believe in order and that the world operates justly, even as we also know that there is a might makes right dynamic where those who are the most ruthless prevail. America has a lot of things confused, as is so aptly described in The Great Perversion.

We believe in the rightness of power and control, of domination and competitiveness, and of wealth as a sign that we are favored by the gods. We fear vulnerability, softness, empathy, and equality. Too many are willing to suffer tyrants if it promises to keep them safe and to help maintain their position in the hierarchy. Deep down, many of us wish that we could be just like them — independent, untouchable, powerful and strong because we think that is what will keep us safe.”

Written by

Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store