Trump-Loving White Women are Protecting Matt Gaetz. History Tells Us WhyRoundup
tags: Congress, racism, sex scandals, Matt Gaetz, Misconduct
Keisha N. Blain is an award-winning historian and writer. She is an associate professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh and has written extensively on race, gender, and politics in national and global perspectives. She is the author of the multi-prize-winning book Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom.
One week after the New York Times reported on a federal investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz, news broke that the Florida Republican would be headlining a Women for America First summit. Organized by a group of Trump-supporting women that has direct ties to the rally that preceded the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, the summit aims to bring together conservative women — mostly white — who are committed to “saving America.”
Some might wonder why a congressman currently under federal investigation over whether he had sex with a minor would be headlining a women’s summit. But Gaetz’s appearance at the summit, as well as his efforts to promote his talk leading up to his Friday speech, were no mere coincidence.
Far beyond skillful PR, amid his repeated denials of wrongdoing, the move sheds light on a history of how white men, specifically misogynists and white supremacists, have found refuge in white women’s groups. White women in the United States have often wielded their collective power to support and even amplify white men engaged in the oppression of others; Gaetz is just the latest white politician to receive their cover.
The actions of Women for America First, which was founded in 2019 to oppose Trump’s first impeachment, may be appalling, but they are certainly not surprising — and definitely not new. More often than not, white women throughout U.S. history have privileged their race above their gender.
Despite claims of unity among women, what history tells us is that when white women have to make a decision, they often operate within their own racial interests.
The same evidence disputes early attempts in popular culture to portray white women as passive figures in the country’s history of slavery, when the reality could not have been further from the truth.
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