On Monday, February fifth President Trump gave his State of the Union Address for 2019. 2019 is a significant year, marking the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in the United States with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1919. The suffragists of the early 1900s wore white as a way to publicize their cause, forcing them to stand out in photographs and film taken at the time. White also allowed these early feminists to create a less aggressive image and enforce their position as respectable women who simply want a political voice. White has always been a significant color for women in politics, with Hilary Clinton selecting the color for her attire at her concession speech as well as women wearing white when placing their vote for Clinton in 2016.
The 2018 election cycle gave the United States the largest ever number of women holding congressional offices. Wearing white was a way to pay homage to a century of steps forward and backward on women's issues as well as the tremendous accomplishment of electing so many women to legislative offices. The symbolism was made even more prevalent when President Trump mentioned the extensive job growth that's occurred during the first three years of his presidency, specifically for women. After looking at each other to see if it was appropriate, the women in white all stood up and cheered for their success, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
The remainder of Trump's State of the Union seemed to cater specifically toward a female demographic, perhaps trying to improve his chances come 2020. The 2016 election experienced the largest gender gap in American history and women disapprove of Trump nearly twice as much as men. 2018 signified women, specifically female Democrats, taking a stand after a disappointing 2016 outcome. It is clear that female voters will fight hard against Trump come 2020 and progressions in women's issues such as Me Too and the Women's March simply reinforce women's motivation. Trump must close the gender gap if he plans to win re-election, and with several female contenders for the Democratic nomination, it's not entirely impossible that a woman could beat him.
Another aspect of the women in Congress' attire at the State of the Union was "ERA Yes" pins attached to their white jackets and dresses. The Equal Rights Amendment has been fighting for ratification since 1972, attempting to gain a constitutional amendment that guarantees equality under the law based on sex. It's been a long time coming, but the United States recently reached 37 states ratifying the amendment. This means we are currently 1 state short of passing the ERA. A constitutional amendment guaranteeing female equality will change the basis of court cases, future legislation, and every argument for every women's issue. The ERA was part of the agenda of feminists of the 1960s and 70s, a goal that seemed to be out of reach.
With a Congress that has more women than ever before and the ERA extremely close to being passed, feminism is clearly not dead in the United States. Women's movements are taking a significant step forward, arguably because of Trump's election to the Presidency. Women were so fed up with his success despite derogatory comments and a history of sexual harassment that they marched on Washington, they created a movement that called out men who take advantage of women, and now female legislators are signaling that there is more progress soon to come.