At The New Republic, Chloe Angyal pens a piece on the role of white womanhood in America’s racial dynamics, and why she will “no longer be an excuse for violence.”
We know that Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old white man who massacred nine black people in Charleston’s Mother Emanuel Church, told a witness who survived, “You rape our women, and you’re taking over our country.” Angyal, a white woman, says the “sexual purity” of white women in the eyes of white men is “essential to the logic of American white supremacy.”
“There is an important distinction between white women, a people, and the concept of white womanhood—one that holds that a white woman is the best thing you can be in America after a white man, and that it is the responsibility of white men to protect your virtue at any and all costs. This white supremacist and benevolently sexist ideology depends both on the subjugation of white women by white men, and on the subjugation of all people who are not white—by white people (including white women).”
Angyal also digs into the long history of this deadly dynamic, from the brutal 1935 lynching of a black man who knocked on a white woman’s door to ask for food, or the Florida A&M University football player who knocked on a white woman’s door for help after a car accident in 2013 and was shot 10 times.
“There is a centuries-old notion that white men must defend, with lethal violence at times, the sexual purity of white women from allegedly predatory black men. And, as we saw yet again after this shooting, it is not merely a relic of America’s hideous racial past. American racism is always gendered; racism and sexism are mutually dependent, and cannot be unstitched.”
It isn’t often that we see a white woman openly discuss how white femininity is used to control and dehumanize “threatening” nonwhite men; the full piece is very thoughtful and well worth a read.