The Women Who Wore White At The State Of The Union & Their Impact On Feminism

The Women Who Wore White At The State Of The Union & Their Impact On Feminism

Not only was it a show of unity and solidarity for women active in feminist movements across the country, but it was also an indication that we are about to enter a new era in American women's equality.


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.

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.

It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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The Disrespectful Nature Of My Generation Needs To Stop

Why choosing phone games over a Holocaust survivor was my breaking point.


While many students that attended Holocaust survivor Hershel Greenblat's talk were rightfully attentive, I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a few outlier students tapping away on their phones. They were minute movements, but inappropriate nonetheless.

Immediately I became infuriated. How, I thought, fuming, did my generation become so blithely unaware to the point where we could not proffer basic respect to a survivor of one of the most horrific events in human history?

Perhaps the students were just texting their parents, telling them that the event would run a bit long. 10 minutes later, my eyes diverted from Greenblat back to the students. They were still on their phones. This time, I could see the screens being held horizontally—indicating a game or a show was being played. I wanted to get up, smack the distractions out of their hands, and ask them why they thought what they were doing was more important than a Holocaust speaker.

I will not waste any more time writing about the disrespectful few. Because they could not give Greenblat the time of their day, I will not give them mine. Instead, I want to focus on a massive trend my generation has mistakenly indulged ourselves in.

The Greenblat incident is only an example of this phenomenon I find so confusing. From young, it was instilled in me, probably via Chinese tradition, that elders should be respected. It is a title only revoked when unacceptable behavior allows it to be, and is otherwise maintained. I understand that not everybody comes from a background where respect is automatically granted to people. And I see that side of the story.

Why does age automatically warrant respect? It is the fact that they have made it this far, and have interesting stories to tell. There are exceptions, perhaps more than there are inclusions.

But this fact can be determined by the simple act of offering an elderly person your seat on public transportation. Sure, it can be for their health, but within that simple act is a meaningful sacrifice for somebody who has experienced more than you.

Age aside, at Greenblat's talk, majority of the disrespect shown might not have been agist. Instead, it could have been the behavior students just there for the check-in check-out extra credit that multiple classes and clubs were offering. While my teachers who advertised the event stressed the importance of attendance not just for the academic boost, but for the experience, I knew that some of the more distracted students there must have been those selfish, ignorant, solely academic driven cockalorums.

I stay hopeful because majority of my classmates were attentive. We knew to put aside our Chromebooks, regardless of note-taking, and simply listen to what Greenblat had to offer.

It would be wrong to label my generation as entitled— that's a misnomer for the generation before. We are still wavering between the line of automatic respect and earned respect, but we need to set a line for people whom we know the stories of. Especially a Holocaust survivor.

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