One of the many lingering questions about the outcome of the U.S. election is why so many white women voted for Donald Trump, considering his track record of misogynist remarks.
Stanford University sociologist Marianne Cooper took a stab at answering that unknown yesterday at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit, and I found her explanation especially intriguing. She blames, in part, the lack of “gender-political consciousness” among white, married women.
As members of just one protected class, white women have a harder time seeing their personal inequality and recognizing its illegitimacy. Meanwhile, black, Latina, and LGBT women have “enhanced” gender-political awareness because they’re more accustomed to other forms of discrimination such as racism, xenophobia, and homophobia.
As a result, white women tend to assume an upbeat “girls-can-do-anything” attitude instead of talking about the realities of sexism. That makes it harder for them to identify misogyny when they encounter it. “In order to see something as unjust,” Cooper says, “you have to be able to name it first.”