Vanity Fair recently published an article titled, “‘They say we’re white supremacists’: Inside the strange world of conservative college women,” a truly fitting end to this semester. The article profiled four conservative women on UNC’s campus and the “oppression” they feel from the liberal student body and faculty. Their article is reminiscent of the many profiles about “Middle America” and the “silent majority,” providing these underrepresented groups a platform and sympathy for voting for a morally corrupt presidential candidate.
But you know which marginalized groups on campus we want to read long-form feature articles about? We want to read about undocumented students, ineligible for financial aid, who can barely afford to pay their tuition. We want to read about Black students who attend classes in the thirty buildings named after white supremacists. We want to read about Muslim students, still grieving the deaths of their three peers who were shot, in cold bold, inside their Chapel Hill apartment.
Not the white conservative women who consider themselves “oppressed at this campus because I’m a conservative.” Not those who claim to stand against racism yet endorse the racist overtones of his “political theater,” “brand” and the “consumable product” of his politics. Not those who believe that there is no more room for feminism in society, because “we’ve reached a point where everyone is fairly equal among the sexes.” (Insert wage gap statistic here). And we certainly, most definitely, absolutely do not want to hear about those hurt because the “feminine” liberal guys they match with on Tinder “like to argue” and don’t fit the image of a desirable, manly "lumberjack."
We want to hear from the people who are actually oppressed, whose voices have long been stifled by power structures that push them aside and invalidate their suffering. By people who have experienced the damaging effects of real discrimination and segregation — who have feared for their lives and that of others like them because of a historical legacy of intolerance and persecution. These are the people who deserve to be put in the spotlight; these are the ones whose stories deserve to be told.
There is no story here. The theme of the article revolves around the feeling of oppression these conservative women face. Facing backlash and eye rolls for your political views is not oppression. Oppression is systemic; it pervades every aspect of your life, it undermines your very existence.
The Vanity Fair article feeds into a larger problem plaguing the journalism industry. Non-white journalists make only 12 percent of newsrooms. As hard as journalists try to be open-minded, they speak into an echo chamber, perceiving the events the way they are presented in their mostly white newsrooms. Truly marginalized communities cannot be covered if their members are not in the media, and we will never know those stories until newsrooms diversify.
Dear white conservative women: no one faults you for expressing your opinion. You have every right to; in fact, as editorial board members we encourage valuable political discourse. However, when your opinions threaten the very existence of marginalized people and perpetuate systematic oppression, people are going to object. As much as you may feel like a minority on a largely liberal campus, there are other, non-white minorities who are far more deserving of the platform you have been given.
In some ways, we’re grateful Nancy Jo Sales wrote this article. White conservative women are angry the voices of a few (who, by the way, are in the White House) are painting them in a negative image to the American public.
White conservative women, welcome to the life of every minority, ever.
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