As Election Day, approached, there was not a doubt in my mind Clinton would become our first female president. My peers and I were confident that election day would be the day we broke the glass ceiling. However, the hopes of Americans of seeing the first female president were unexpectedly crushed as Donald Trump became our presidential-elect almost two weeks ago.
On the surface, Clinton’s loss is a major setback to progress women have made in the past century. Trump has a long history of objectifying women, and his successful election may legitimize the horrible comments he has made. In a May 1991 Esquire magazine interview he stated, “You know, it really doesn’t matter what [journalists] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.” Trump has stated that he would date his daughter if they weren’t related, called all women gold diggers, insulted women seeking abortions and women who breastfeed and uttered many more offenses. Trump also faces sexual assault allegations, including one alleging he assaulted a minor, and even said on camera, “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” And yet 53 percent of white women voted for Trump on Nov. 8. Clearly, Trump’s ascendance is about more than just his offensive comments, but his victory proves that blatant sexism was excusable to many voters.
As discouraging as Trump’s victory is, it will serve to inspire progressive women to work harder to achieve equality. The feminist movement made great progress during the 20th century, from greater equality and representation in the workforce to 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision affirming a woman’s right to choose. The grassroots organizing infrastructure of National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List have already kicked into gear to hold President-elect Trump accountable for his actions even in the months leading up to his inauguration. Donations to Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union skyrocketed in the days after Trump’s victory. Social media, especially Twitter, featured calls for access to and information about IUDs, long-term birth control that will outlast Trump’s administration, which many believe could reduce access to reproductive healthcare. Women are not sitting idly by.
In Clinton’s concession speech, she urged women to persevere: “And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.” It scares me to think of telling the young girls I babysit that a man who has made comments like Trump’s can be elected president. However, I found solace and resolve within Clinton’s words. They were a call to action, to continue working to improve women’s rights.
Despite her loss in the election, Clinton continues to serve as an inspiration for girls and women around the world. After Trump called Clinton a “nasty woman” in the final presidential debate, women around the country have been self-identifying as “nasty women.” Following the results of the election, the “nasty women” movement has gained even more power, particularly on social media. Reclaiming this derogatory and demeaning language is the first symbolic step to signal that women are ready to continue the fight for equality under Trump. This newly politically-engaged and active generation of “nasty women” has the potential to change the world. We will continue to show strength in the face of adversity, as we have in the past.
Marisa Kaplan is a Weinberg freshman. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to email@example.com. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.