On Sunday, Washington Post Local Columnist Courtland Milloy wrote a hideous column, “Consider the Case of the Angry White Woman.” At the heart of his piece was the question what do white women have to be angry about?
Milloy is reacting to a recent scene inside the Virginia General Assembly in which Margaret Doyle, a petite, abortion-rights advocate, had to be carried out screaming from the General Assembly by four police men. Doyle was protesting a measure by state senators to pass a law that would define life as beginning at conception.
Doyle’s grievances, however, are hardly the issue.
Milloy – who seeks to bifurcate the world into black and white, the haves and have nots, rich and poor – describes a white woman as “relatively healthy, happy, safe and financially secure, she is the reigning queen of the ‘golden mean,’ the norm by which other women are measured.” And this is where Milloy’s hostility is really aimed:
“The white woman decides who gets heard in such matters. By her own efforts, but also through her unique access to wealthy men, she builds institutions to support her causes. Other women may sit at the table, but she alone speaks on their behalf.
Whatever privileges come with being a white woman usually end up being cloaked by her emphasis on gender.”
Milloy is right that too often women’s groups on the left are obsessed with gender (and I suspect Doyle is one of them). But what completely eludes Milloy is that there are many women – like men – who are angry about a growing loss of freedom. For Doyle this may have been related to reproductive rights; but for many others this is about government overreach into every aspect of our lives from health care to education to retirement savings.
And many women are angry that the political conversation has been dominated in recent weeks by a debate over contraception, rather than a much-needed discussion about our economic woes. In fact, a recent poll found that women do not necessarily disagree with GOP contender Rick Santorum’s socially conservative policies; but they are, however, angry that a conversation over contraception is taking the place of one about our economy.
Milloy makes the egregious mistake of assuming that the “explosive displays of rage” among white women come as women fear they are “losing the rights” that they had “come to take for granted.” But nothing could be further from the truth. Women at all levels of society – as college activists, media figures, at state think tanks, and perhaps most notably as grassroots activists in the Tea Party movement – are fighting for freedom.
Milloy might think white women don’t have anything to complain about; but women – like the American public in general – are saying no to government overreach. And that’s something everyone should see as worth fighting for.