There’s a popular bumper sticker that states, “A woman’s place is in the House and Senate.”
Whenever I see it on the road, I always smile to myself. It’s that cheeky sort of feminist statement that always warms my heart in the face of this cold, bleak administration.
I’ve always considered myself to be a political person. When your existence is politicized for your entire life, it’s pretty hard not to be one.
When you’re a visible minority in many different ways, it is impossible to ignore the ramifications of a marginalized identity.
I’ve worked in political action committees. I’ve interned for action funds. I’ve volunteered for abortion clinics. I’ve marched in rallies for women’s rights.
I am definitely, unequivocally a feminist.
Multiple women – especially of color – were voted into House positions during this past midterm election, and I am elated.
That first Tuesday in November marked a time of many firsts. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are the first Muslim women, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman, and Ayanna Pressley is the first black woman from Massachusetts elected to Congress.
These faces undeniably pose a threat to the status quo and will serve as a reminder to the current hegemony that exists in what is supposed to be a truly representative government of the people, by the people, for the people.
Do I think more diversity is needed in bodies of power? Yes.
Do I think this is a long-term, end-all, be-all solution to the problems that marginalized minorities face in the United States? Not so much.
When we take a look at both corporate and governmental structures that disenfranchise the poor and widen the gap between them and the rich, and see that they’re overwhelmingly white and male, should our automatic response be to diversify those structures?
No. Our response should be to dissolve them.
It doesn’t matter that there’s a growing number of female CEOs when Women, Infants, and Children enrollment increases every year.
It doesn’t matter that your fashion and makeup icon is a “self-made billionaire” – as if those even exist – when so many are barred from employment and upward social mobility.
And it shouldn’t be surprising that once entangled in the political swamp that many of these elected officials, once thought to be the change the people needed, give into corporate greed instead.
Visibility is not inherently empowerment and liberation – not when abortion clinics are closing, infrastructure is crumbling, health care, and social security are inaccessible.
If we do not collectively address the problem of class inequality and the disgusting wealth gap in this country, exacerbated by the axes of race and gender, we cannot progress.
We could have had twice, thrice the number of firsts we saw this month. We already had our first black president. It doesn’t mean the misogyny and racism, among other things that plague this country, have ceased to exist.
That being said, I say congratulations to every woman – especially women of color – who takes positions that have been denied to us and our foremothers since the beginning of time.