Washington Post columnist Karen Attiah is frustrated by how poorly the Democrats performed in her native Texas. Attiah, who has a penchant for racially provocative punditry, notes in an 11 November column that besides white men, “there is another group that consistently supports the GOP’s anti-woman, do-nothing-about-dead-kids stance, and that is White women. Seriously, what gives?” White women, observes Attiah, voted for incumbent Texas Governor (and Republican) Greg Abbott in almost identical numbers to white men. It was the same in Georgia, where white women helped reelect Republican incumbent Brian Kemp’s reelection.
Attiah’s disdain for southern white women is palpable. “Southern White women are the lady foot soldiers of the GOP’s agenda,” she complains. “We will not get free until that changes.” Then there are the predictable digs at southern white women for “serving the conservative agenda of the Southern patriarchy.” And she resents the United Daughters of the Confederacy, who, she claims, “are a large part of why many Confederate monuments still stand in the United States.” She concludes that white southern women’s political behavior in favor of “racists, misogynists and anti-LGBTQ forces,” makes it “damn near impossible for meaningful change to occur.”
Well. There’s certainly plenty to chew on in Attiah’s column. What exactly does she mean by “get free?” And who requires freeing? Women? Black Americans who vote Democrat? (Attiah is herself black, the daughter of immigrants from West Africa). And on what grounds is she labeling white womens’ voting patterns as serving racism and misogyny? (I mean, I’ve read enough liberal punditry to wager a guess, but are we so intellectually lazy now that we don’t even have to offer evidence, no matter how tenuous, to support our ad hominems?)
Let’s set aside the tired accusations of southerners as racist misogynists for a moment. For there is another problem with Attiah’s accusations that evince a deep incoherence. Ms. Attiah (and many other liberal pundits) attack southern culture as bigoted and backwards and demanding it jettison its traditional mores. And yet they seem oblivious to how deeply at odds this is with their status as self-professed multiculturalists who criticize those who seek to impose their values on others.
In this regard, Ms. Attiah fits the type. Earlier this year, she wrote an article sympathetic to black Americans who have decided they would rather return to the African homeland of their ancestors than remain in a nation they view as systematically racist. “Grateful to back in Mother Ghana, the homeland. 🇬🇭#ghana,” Attiah wrote earlier this year on Instagram. Deciding one would rather live in Ghana (or any other African country, for that matter) because it best reflects one’s values and cultural identity is of course entirely her (or anyone’s) prerogative.
Yet Attiah also wants to define herself as a true Texan, splitting her time between D.C. and the Lone Star State, according to her bio. Nevertheless, she has little positive to say about Texas culture and its traditions. A couple years ago she wrote a piece for the Washington Post entitled “The Texas Rangers’ team name must go,” because… you guessed it, the original Texas Rangers were racists and white supremacists. She has authored op-eds castigating Texas gun culture and commented disparagingly on its laws restricting access to abortion.
In the world of Karen Attiah, as with many such liberal elite thinkers, identification with place exists predominantly as a weapon to be leveraged for cynical political expediency. She is African when she wants to burnish her racial or internationalist credentials… or distance herself from a supposedly systemically racist America. She is Texan when she requires some capital to better attack Texans (or southerners more broadly) for being too conservative. Perhaps this cynical exploitation of identity is appealing to her urbanite, technocratic readers, but I find it fake and insulting, as I think would many southerners (and, I would hope, many Ghanians).
Moreover, if Attiah in any way understands southern culture (which I’m not sure she does), she evinces nothing but disdain for it. Has it not dawned up on her that perhaps some southern women like the ideal of a traditional, religiously-informed society in which both sexes inhabit certain roles? Does Attiah live in such an insular bubble that the only explanation for women voting for pro-life, pro-gun conservatives is that they are racist, stupid, or brainwashed?
There are many qualities that set southern women apart from those elsewhere in the country. Here are a few that have some clear data to support them. As a region, the South boasts stronger homeschooling numbers than any other part of the United States, and home-schooling is done primarily by women. The states with the highest numbers of stay-at-home mothers are also predominantly southern, including Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas. And southern states have the highest rates of church attendance. Familial independence, an emphasis on intimate maternal child-rearing, and religious faith are all traits that define southern women. We of course could also add more popularly known qualities like hospitality, etiquette, and an abiding respect for one’s patrimony.
In other words, there is a fairly clear conception of what defines southern womanhood, something that has been distilled now over several centuries (or longer, if we count its pre-American roots). But liberal progressives like Attiah do not like it. It doesn’t matter if southern women prefer that identity — they must be patronizingly heckled and coerced until they give it up in favor of the bland, post-national, sexual androgyny of globalist progressivism.
It’s true that southern womanhood exists within a certain traditional patriarchal structure — though anyone who actually has spent time with southerners or in the South (or read its literature) knows it is by no means a misogynist culture. If anything, southern culture exhibits more respect and honor for women than what we see in our hyper-feminist society. Progressivism expects women to act like men while retaining some aspects of femininity; to be powerful and independent yet simultaneously helpless victims of their biology and the disintegrating remnants of patriarchal norms; and to cheer biological males dressed up as women who beat them at sports and surpass them professionally (aren’t transgender executives in the C-suite a female success story?)
I don’t know what the future holds for southern women (I can’t even bring myself to write southern white women, because how needlessly identitarian and reductionist). As the son, husband, and father of southern women, I’m of course biased — they’ve certainly been a blessing to me! I for one am quite glad to know southern women are a thorn in the side of elitists attempting to flatten the world into one, big, homogenous progressivist dystopia, in which careers matter more than children, and self-actualization more than God. For despite all their bluster about multi-cultural tolerance, that’s precisely what people like Attiah seem to desire.