The sisterhood and camaraderie amongst women at this year’s State of the Union gave women on the outside hope. They wore suffragette white, clapped and cheered anytime President Trump made a comment that, surprisingly, celebrated the success of women today. Unsurprisingly, memes started to circulate criticizing their actions.
I found this meme on a scroll through Facebook, immediately unfriending the person who shared it. The comments were equally unpleasant, calling these women a ‘disgrace to our country’.
What bothered me the most was the explicit double standard placed on women and their decisions. God forbid a woman or group of women make a choice, asserting their beliefs without the permission of society.
They weren’t told what to wear. They were asked to wear a specific color to represent the women that came before them. Florida representative Lois Frankel asked all female politicians to wear white. Representative Frankel did so with the intention of sending a message of solidarity to women across the country.
The times they all stood up to collectively clap and cheer were the moments that celebrated how far women have come. Almost 100 years after women won the right to vote, a record number of women are now working in Congress.
Society is quick to tell us what to do, condemning us when we don’t listen. The moment we collectively make a decision to assert ourselves, going against the grain, they condemn us again. We can’t be overly dependent or too independent. It’s a lose-lose situation.
These women serving our country and fighting for our rights are anything but a disgrace. They are each making history and set incredible examples of what all girls and women can accomplish.
We should be celebrating the steps they are taking to repair the feminist movement. Mainstream feminism has always focused on the white women. When white women abandoned domestic jobs to take jobs traditionally held by men, women of color filled those spots and no one stood up to help argue for their rights. Mainstream feminism left them behind.
The collection of women at the State of the Union represents the intersectionality of our fight. How a woman is treated intersects with her race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation. Every single one of these identifiers are present in our Congress today, and that’s beautiful.
While each woman was asked to wear white in solidarity, almost every one of them had their own personal reason as to why she did. Many took to Twitter to share it as well.
The women of the #116th were asked to wear white tonight in tribute to the #suffragetes Tonight, I honor women like #AlicePaul who led the movement & women like #IdaB who were excluded from it. Kente cloth & the color white. Holding space for both #womanists & #feminists, always. pic.twitter.com/kaPQGb65Et
— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) February 5, 2019
— Nita Lowey (@NitaLowey) February 5, 2019
Nearly 100 years after women earned the right to vote, more than 100 women are serving in Congress. Tonight the @HouseDemWomen are wearing suffragette white to remind the president that we—and the rights our ancestors fought for—aren't going anywhere. #SOTU #SOTU2019 pic.twitter.com/ZkFDdj5YxV
— Rep. Val Demings (@RepValDemings) February 5, 2019
To anyone who thought these women were simply ‘doing as they were told’, you missed the point. This was a message to our country that women are uniting together, fighting for each other, and speaking out. You better watch out.
Cover image courtesy of Vox.