A record number of women will be taking their seats in Congress after their mid-term election wins in the USA. As a sharp response to Donald Trump’s misogyny and his support,more recently, for Brett Kavanaugh, women turned out in droves to vote and support female Democrat candidates. About 100 women are poised to enter America’s halls of formal politics.
Perish any thought that Trump’s brand of right wing misogyny has extinguished feminism.
Apart from being elected to take seats traditionally held by men, the socio-make up of these women breaks new ground too. Pennsylvania’s previously all male political representation now has women. Sharice Davids, a gay Native American, was elected in Texas. Two Muslim women, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, will be the first ever Muslim women to sit in Congress. Ayanna Pressley will be the first woman of color in Massachusetts. Pictured above is Alexandria Ocasio-Ortez who at the age of 29 will be the youngest ever women elected to Congress. She is a Latina woman.
When I was growing up, Feminism seemed like an American female experience that an Asian female could only dream of. It gave us the likes of Adrienne Rich, Betty Friedan and Andrea Dworkin. The American right has slowly, over the decades, started to shape popular culture. With funding from influential Christian figures and strong male voices in Congress like Rick Santorum, now Trump, values are being shaped in the image of a white and, predominantly, male who is exclusionary.
As George Monbiot said, the worst thing about Donald Trump is that “he is the man in the mirror”. Trump’s mix of economic populism appealing to White (mainly rural) voters whose fawning borders on unquestioning loyalty and his deliberate strategy of racial polarisation is now facing a fight back.
Evidently there are limits to these Trump arguments. He overlooked the strength of the Liberal Whites whom he chastises and derides on a constant basis. There is also evidence that College educated Republican women voted along Liberal lines too. When Trump is next tempted to mock people like Ted Cruz with the words, “He’s a pussy”, perhaps he will think again. What Trump denounces as ‘political correctness’ is actually a socio-cultural awareness of what is right and wrong to say and think about those once marginalized.
The fight back against Trump’s authoritarian tendencies and misogyny has started.
Welcome to the age of Feminism in Congress.