Being Married Could Mean Better Health... Except For Straight Women

“I don’t think Donald Trump is racist,” said Caitlyn McKinney, one night in September over dinner at the Top of the Hill, a Chapel Hill restaurant with a view of the mountains. “He’s just making himself a consumable product,” said Cammie McMahan. Like Maggie, Cammie and Caitlyn said they believed the president’s stoking of race hatred was just politics—a kind of “branding.”

And didn’t that bother them? I asked. “Morally, I don’t stand with him,” said Cammie. “He’s not moral,” said Caitlyn. “But what he represents for the Republican Party, I strongly support,” Cammie said. “He was against the Establishment, against having to do the bidding of special interests. He got people off their feet to care—because we were just on a downhill spiral!”

“We were!” said Caitlyn.

To their minds, the Obama years, with their economic recovery, passage of health-care reform, and the ending of the war in Iraq, among other wins for the Democratic president, had been a disaster. Originally a Ted Cruz fan, Caitlyn said that when Trump won the Republican presidential primary, “I started listening and I just liked what he said. He doesn’t care what people think about him. Like, he’ll tell it straight. And our jobs are coming back, the economy’s growing. When he says he’ll do something, he gets it done.” Although both of them were too young to vote for Trump in 2016, they said they will in 2020 if he runs for re-election. “I would say I’m a big Trump fan,” Cammie said, grinning. “I have TRUMP 2020 stickers. I have a WOMEN FOR TRUMP T-shirt my parents got me when they went to Trump Tower.”

“I would sit with my grandfather and we would watch Fox News and he would say, ‘Never trust anybody that trusts a Clinton.’”


Both young women said their political views had brought them the derision of their fellow students. “I can’t wear my College Republicans T-shirt to class because I will get dirty looks,” Cammie said. “I can’t have a political sticker on my laptop because if somebody sees it in the library they’re gonna say something to me.” When they were attacked for their conservatism by students in class, their professors, they claimed, never rose to their defense. “They agree with them!” said Cammie.

They both came from conservative families. Caitlyn, a nursing major from Durham, was one of five children and had gone to a Christian school. Her mother, who worked in a law firm, and her father, who renovated houses, were still married. “My dad brings me a biscuit from Sunrise Biscuit every Sunday morning when he comes to pick me up for church,” Caitlyn said, smiling. Cammie grew up in Moyock, North Carolina; her father had retired from the navy after 30 years of service and now worked as a safety-training officer, and her mother was a stay-at-home mom. Cammie was a bio major and planned to go to pharmacy school. Both young women felt empowered, they said, to work toward their goals with no restrictions or obstacles because of their gender.

“I have never felt oppressed in my life because I’m a woman,” said Caitlyn. “I feel oppressed at this campus because I’m a conservative,” said Cammie.

While Cammie conceded that sexism did indeed exist, she said she didn’t see it as an “overall trend. It happens more on an individual basis now,” and therefore, she said, “there’s no need for feminism in our modern society. We’ve reached a point where everyone is fairly equal among the sexes. Like, of course I would have been a feminist in the 1920s and 30s, but in 2018 I have never had any limitations set on me because I was a woman. If anything, I think there’s a slight bias to try to give women opportunities.”

Over discussions of the wage gap, the unequal number of women in management positions, and other indications of systemic sexism, the young women were ready with conservative talking points as counter-arguments. But the main issue on which they diverged from the majority of their peers was abortion. “I am strictly pro-life and I’m never gonna change,” said Cammie. “I believe life begins at conception.”

“Yes, so do I,” Caitlyn said. “Like, ‘Thou shall not commit murder.’ When you get an abortion, you’re breaking one of the Ten Commandments.”

And what about in the case of rape? I asked.

“It’s not that baby’s fault that it happened,” Caitlyn said. “When I hear about people who have abortions, it kind of upsets me ‘cause it’s just an inconvenience to them to have that baby, right? And, like, incest accounts for only a small portion of cases.”

Cammie looked thoughtful. “I think Plan B is morally permissible because conception can occur anytime in the six days after sex. So I think it’s O.K. And Plan B is, like, perfectly accessible—you can get it at Walmart and Target. If I was raped, I would do that.”

But Cammie and Caitlyn also felt they were not in a position to judge any woman who decided to have an abortion. Cammie said her parents wouldn’t allow her to date as long as she was in school, and Caitlyn said she was saving herself for marriage. They were virgins, they said, which made them the target of another sort of mockery among their peers. “I’ve been forced to take ‘the purity test,’” Cammie said, referring to an infamous online questionnaire that originated at Rice University, a favorite among college kids wanting to rate their levels of debauchery.

“They say we’re white supremacists. . . . They say they want to be all intersectional and everything, except when it’s us.”


She’d briefly had a Tinder account, she said—”my profile picture was me and Caitlyn in our SOCIALISM SUCKS T-shirts”—but she got rid of it “because it was just for hookups.”

“I don’t know how it’s liberating for women to let men see them as just another hookup,” Caitlyn said, dismayed. “I want someone to actually think I’m special and love me.”

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