In my persistent inquiry into femiphobia (fear of being perceived as feminine) as an explanation for Regressive behavior (including voting behavior) I have encountered blog comments that can be summarized in these two ways: first, that femiphobia cannot explain racism, and second, that femiphobia does not explain why African Americans tend to vote Democratic. Let me try to address these two common complaints. I apologize in advance for my usual blunt language.
As I have already discussed (hypothesis about racism as underlying cause of Creationist belief), racism is very femiphobic. Especially during the late 19th and early 20th century, there was a feeling that civilization and modernity, and especially education, tends to “soften” men, i.e., make them less masculine. Racists at the time promulgated a number of myths about Black sexuality: that they are oversexed and hypersexual. You have all heard the myth that Black men have bigger dicks than White men. There was a fear that pure animalistic sexual magnetism is making Black men more attractive to White women, that White men cannot compete with the sexual prowess of Black men, and that Black men, being brutes, will steal and rape White women. That is all bullshit, of course, but many White men TODAY still believe it. Thus femiphobia, as a symptom of anxious masculinity projects its fears onto Black men as superior in the sex department – where it really hits the nerve.
At the same time, femiphobes have a strange relationship with women. On one hand, they are really big on public displays of chivalry. They are all so formal and gentlemanly, putting women up on the pedestal, holding their doors open and singing serenades under balconies. But once the bedroom doors are closed, Dr.Jekyll turns into Mr.Hyde and all sorts of strange, usually rough, aggressive, even brutal behaviors emerge (see the experiences of New York escorts during the GOP Convention last summer). Some serious problems with sexuality are covered up with either extremes of machismo, or strange perversions (“spank me, please”).
For the same reasons, Black women entice them, as they are perceived as oversexed, yet are socially subservient and can be manipulated without punishment (see Storm Thurmond). When these guys vote Republican, it is more out of fear of what they perceive as feminism (as well as the Black face) of Democrats, than it is FOR whatever program GOP offers. Rove has figured that out and is selling his candidates not on what they offer, but as defenders of the White Men against the scary Satanic Feminists and Blacks (that is called “traditional values” and “family values”) who threaten their masculinity.
Just a reaction to this White sentiment should be sufficient for Blacks to consistently vote Democratic. On top of that, of course, is the long history of the fight for Civil Rights during which the GOP was consistently on the wrong side and Democrats always on the right side. This is probably sufficient to explain why Black women vote Democratic (plus, perhaps, the hope that spread of liberal way of life will help them tame and educate their men, some of whom can be quite rough manly-men themselves).
But for SOME of the Black men, I feel there is an additional sentiment. Many of them are quite “traditional” in their views of gender roles and can be expected to be quite femiphobic themselves. Here, Ducat alone may not be sufficient without also invoking Lakoff’s notion of Moral Order.
Out of many dominant-subservient pairs in the moral order hierarchy (e.g., God over men, adults over children, Whites over other races, Protestants over other Christians over other religions over atheists, Americans over other nations, people over animals over plants over inanimate matter, etc.), the hierarchy between men and women is the most important. What Civil Rights (and Democrats) have done for Black Men is to eliminate one social category that was always (as far as they can remember) ABOVE them – the White Men (and women). Thus, even if they are, at their core, conservative in this sense, they will choose the party that eliminates their bitterest competitors. It is like Beta-males going with the party that demotes Alpha-males in a baboon society. By pulling White men down to their level, they automatically see themselves as climbing one step up on the ladder of hierarchy of moral worth. After all, they are likely to also be Americans and Protestants, so only God remains above them. They may still look down on women, though (and be rough on kids, cruel to animals, hateful of foreigners, afraid of Moslems or atheists, and not caring about the environment).
There is a very small number of men, both White and Black, for which this connection between race and femiphobia is so direct, overt and strong. Yet, in a much more latent or hidden manner, it may have some small effect on voting behavior in both groups.