This piece originally appeared in The State on September 12, 2020.
“There remains a large conservative block of women who continue to vote against their own interests, preferring to embrace their ‘whiteness’ as a badge of protection and superiority.”
These words appeared in a recent article written by a history professor from my university, the College of Charleston.
Though a seemingly fair article celebrating the centennial anniversary of women winning the right to vote in America, it turned into a blatant bash on conservative females with this one unnecessary sentence. It offered no substantiation as to why voting conservative means voting “against [my] own interests.”
This is not the first time that another woman has insinuated that I am inferior, unintelligent and against my own gender because of my conservative beliefs. In fact, these subtle jabs from peers and professors have become commonplace in a college campus environment.
“Oh honey, you’ll wake up one day,” a liberal feminist student once told me — as if I had lost my mind and would later find it in being victimized by a movement that claims to empower me.
And I have also been accused of not being a “real woman.”
Contemporary feminism thrives on putting down women who don’t go along with and perpetuate its monolithic groupthink — rather than actually empowering women to make their own decisions and strive for their own personal versions of success.
Women are incredibly valuable to society in a variety of ways — and it should be celebrated, not demeaned, that women are diverse in their thoughts, values and beliefs.
I thought that trailblazing women like Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton led the suffrage movement so women could think for themselves — and not simply share the thoughts of their father, husband or brother.
However, the liberal feminist movement of today tells women that they must collectively think the same.
I refuse to take part in such a double standard, for this does not reflect the freedom that suffragists fought for 100 years ago. In 1920 suffragists won the right to vote — not just for liberal women but conservative women. too.
Claiming that conservative women “continue to vote against their own interests” insists not only that liberal feminists know what’s best for all women, but that the liberal ideology is the correct one for all women to hold.
It is a closed-minded approach to both culture and policy to assume that all women have the same interests for their lives.
Furthermore, it is insulting to suggest that women who may not identify with the liberal feminist movement are incapable of deciding for themselves and are making the “wrong” decisions when they cast their votes.
The decision of how to vote is made individually, not monolithically, and is based upon the values and principles that lead one’s life.
As a woman in America I am proud to be able to reflect my individual interests at the polls — and to vote for the candidate who is best equipped for the position and who embodies my values.
Contrary to popular feminist belief, there are many reasons why voting conservative does not mean that I vote against my own interests — or that I am anti-woman.
Women are empowered through free-market economic principles and limited government regulations; they are empowered when they have the ability to prosper in an economy where they know they will benefit from their hard work and productivity.
As a result, this improves the quality of life for themselves and for their families.
In addition conservatism promotes the value of personal responsibility, which I believe is a foundational principle in empowering women.
Women don’t need government to succeed, and to suggest otherwise is infantilizing.
My Christian faith reinforces my conservative principles and the way I choose to vote; in no way do my beliefs reflect those of someone who is “against their own interests.”
That’s why this conservative woman votes.
Charlotte Townsend is a senior at the College of Charleston. Townsend is the founder of the Network of enlightened Women (NeW) chapter at the College of Charleston, and she is currently serving as an intern for NeW.