Echoes of the Suffrage Movement at the State of the Union

By Erin Keating:

More than one hundred years after the beginning of the suffrage movement, women are joining forces yet again. During President Trump’s annual State of the Union Address, female lawmakers wore white as a sign of solidarity. 

The House Democratic Women’s Working Group invited female lawmakers to wear the color white during this year’s State of the Union. This movement recognized the suffragists of the early 20th century. While fighting for the right to vote, women would wear white to symbolize their purity; it showed them as non-threatening, yet at the same time, grabbing people’s attention.

During the nearly 90-minute address, President Trump spoke about a list of issues regarding the country. When the President recognized the rise of women in government, he was met with a standing ovation by the female lawmakers, all wearing the color white. 

This is not the first time female lawmakers have used their choice of clothing to promote women’s rights. At last year’s State of the Union, female lawmakers sported the color black, calling attention to the #MeToo and Time’s Up Movements. Back in 2017, female Democratic lawmakers wore white to Trump’s joint address to Congress, “to oppose Republican attempts to roll back women’s progress,” according to U.S Representative Lois Frankel.

Frankel is the Chairwoman of the House Democratic Women’s Working Group and organized this year’s movement. Frankel says the message behind wearing the white has grown; women are now fighting for equal pay, affordable health care, and reproductive rights.

Dozens of women supported the movement. Female lawmakers wearing white included U.S. Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

The next presidential election will take place in 2020, exactly one hundred years after women were granted the right to vote. With 23 women currently serving in the U.S. Congress and five entering the 2020 presidential race, women in politics are certainly not going anywhere.


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