Because their behavior is similar to that of the white men they just finished criticizing. As a group, white women stated that they wanted ‘equality.’ Yet, when it comes to equality, they act as if getting it for themselves is enough.
It should be obvious that this isn’t equality. What is it when it supports both white men and white women? Is it still called ‘equality?’ What is the common thread??
Let me give you an example: one of the ways white women stated that men could give them power was to give them job opportunities. Presumably, if they requested these opportunities, they understand the wholesale value of equality.
This isn’t what has happened. Statistically, white women have climbed without the commensurate equivalent for people of color. Publishing is a perfect example: As of 2016, white women dominate publishing at managerial and upper levels at a rate of 82% in some studies. (By contrast, note that white men have equivalent Fortune500 percentages in the 75th or so percentile.) That means that white women have gotten, or taken, a lion’s share of opportunity from others by a long shot: even outstripping white men in this arena. The very people they criticized moments ago — and sometimes still do — of doing exactly that to them. Did you ever ask why so many books which are published are written by white women? Take a look at the higher levels of publishing, and you can see it is a grossly unfair playing field that functionally excludes ALL types of people of color. We get an occasional publication, and it has to be genius to get a chance. For reference, people of color are 90% of the human race.
I doubt that these women think about that when they are getting their promotion, publication, etc., which is one of the problems. They are allowing themselves to be blind to the fact that they have a huge advantage by continuing to embody a ‘victimization’ mentality. You can read about the victimization mentality of white women as a group and ‘patriarchal bargaining’ in multiple studies which illustrate this from a social science point of view.
I’ll give you another example: I was working to help recruit for a company that, like all of them, is dominated by white people at higher levels. There were 4 jobs available for positions in which 19/20 people were white and 3/20 were white women. The 4 positions were given to: a white woman; a white man; a mixed race woman; and, in the fourth controversial case, a white women competing with a Chinese and an Indian man. Both men had much better objective performance results, yet she got the promotion (even she was surprised.) She has known these men for years as colleagues and knows their accomplishments. At higher levels, white men (typically older) will tend to choose ‘white’ over anything else. So, I asked her why she would take the promotion when the disparity in performance was clear. She told me she ‘earned’ it. Others in the group later told me they would have applied if they thought they had a chance, but they look ‘up’ and know that, if they aren’t white, they really don’t have a chance. So her competition would have been greater if the backdrop of white dominance didn’t exist, already pushing down on POC.
Where did this cognitive clouding come in? She got a reward that obviously should have gone to a number of better performers; why did she switch that in her brain to ‘I earned it’ from the reality that she is a poorer performer? Just a generation ago, white women were saying to white men that they were lying to themselves about promotions they give each other.
That is the place where white women should follow their own advice. White is a great advantage, so when the promotion, etc comes, there should always be a question as to whether or not it belongs to a person of color — my years of experience have shown me that the psychological work that goes into white people convincing themselves that what they often receive for being white is ‘earned.’
Look at Adele: she broke her Grammy in half, gave half to Beyonce, and announced to the world that she knew she won because when many white people pick, they pick other white people first, and then they consider quality.
I would say that it isn’t the fault of white women when they ‘get’ these rewards, but it is their responsibility to not shift immediately into self-deception when this is what they accused white men of doing! She should have acted to state that she was not the proper recipient of the promotion, others were. This is the place she could have done something, and in my opinion, if she doesn’t, this is where the ‘fault’ comes in.
Consider the larger picture: in this company, did she really earn what she got, or did she take it from a person of color who earned it? She took it by employing a cognitive distortion, and I think that white people CAN work on this distortion. In particular, a group of people who are criticizing white men for doing it to them! You may notice that some women of color don’t attend women’s marches as often; this is because these marches seem to support white women and not WOC, as illustrated by reality.
I have been working for a number of corporations for decades, and I can tell you the the cognitive distortion is real, and it is damaging to a wide range of other peoples of color. Our nation will lack for real quality if the goal is consistently to publish, promote, and otherwise continue to elevate white people at the expense of a wide range of people of color when such a wide range of POC have so much to offer.
That is what white women can do: avoid considering the reward as ‘fault,’ but remember to ask where the reward really belongs and then act appropriately. Avoid the cognitive dissonance. Remember what it was like to have a foot on their necks, and make sure they aren’t doing it to others. Right now, my own experience in the US is telling me that, regardless of a few individual white women who get it, as a group, they are planting their feet the same place white men have been for centuries: the necks of POC’s.