In 1919 the U.S. Congress passed an amendment that doubled the number of people allowed to vote. That’s pretty bold when you think about it: half of the population, previously disenfranchised, showing up to vote. Women were suddenly a political force to be reckoned with. Many predicted that the women’s vote would change politics, drawing renewed focus to health care, education, and other social programs.
Turns out: nothing much changed. Because, it was discovered, women tended to vote like the men in their lives.
Fast forward 96 years and, well, I still wonder if anything has changed… This year 53% of white women voted for a man who has been accused of (and pretty much admitted to) sexual assault. One article described the white women’s vote for Trump as a shoulder shrug. Eh, better to preserve peace in the household, plus things are mostly fine around here. Mostly fine.
I am disappointed in our complacency. We are half of this country.
A recent study showed that black women are 14 percentage points more likely than white women to view themselves as leaders (they are also 23 percentage points more likely to be the family breadwinner). It makes sense. This country has thrown obstacle after obstacle their way. By choice and by circumstance black women have become leaders. In the mean time, we white women shrug our shoulders. We fall in line with racism and fascism because we often find ourselves protected under its umbrella.
It’s hard to be effective, to move together, since sometimes we women don’t agree with each other. Everyone got into a bit of a huff during the Democratic primaries last year; some felt that the Clinton campaign insulted women who supported Sanders. Our new world and our new freedom permits us women to vote for whoever we want. It permits us to disagree with each other. And I cannot and should not say that all women should think the same. But this world is not binary. You don’t have to think like me, but please, do not think like them.
I am disappointed, but when I need inspiration I look outward: leaders of the black community and women across the world can show us how it’s done.
In Argentina hundreds of thousands of women have been marching in response to the violent murders of several Argentine women this year. The Argentine President Marci (quoted saying, “All women like catcalls. Even if it’s just ‘what a cute ass you have,’”) is not much of an ally. All the more reason why women have taken to Buenos Aires streets to protest. They are being heard: the protests have been reported in news sources all over the world. The movement, Ni Una Menos, has gained a following even outside of Argentina. And, Buenos Aires has approved a measure that will fine catcalling.
In Poland this October tens of thousands of women wore all black and marched in Warsaw. They marched in opposition to an abortion ban that would have outlawed abortion in all cases, even in cases of rape and life endangerment for the mother. Again, women proved their power. The proposed laws were immediately taken off the table.
In times of frustration and disappointment, I look at the women around me. They inspire me and remind me: now is not the time to be complacent.
I’m not making this stuff up:
What women really think of men
An open letter to white liberal feminists
In Argentina hundreds of thousands of women set to protest against violence
Polish women hold black Monday strike to protest proposed abortion ban
The art of the protest
The glass ceiling holds
Ni Una Menos facebook page
Student created a gripping and NSFW photo series with Trump quotes about women
These are the fierce activists leading the women’s march on Washington