The 2016 Election Means More Waiting for Women
On January 12, 1915, the House of Representatives rejected a proposed amendment; one that would give women across America the right to vote. It wasn’t until five years later on August 26, 1920, that the 19th Amendment would be ratified, ensuring suffrage for women. And it wouldn’t be until nearly one century later that Hillary Clinton would become the first woman to ever have the presidential nomination of a major party.
The 2016 election cycle was important for women in many ways — even those who didn’t support Clinton. America saw that it is possible for a woman to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate.
Meagan Dejong, an adjunct English professor at Montclair State, voted for Clinton. She said, “true feminism means that we go for the most qualified individual. And I still think that Hillary was the most qualified….I think it’s a bonus that she’s a woman.” She said voting for a woman “clearly meant a lot, for all the reasons that we’ve seen in media…for instance, everyone lining up to put stickers on Susan B. Anthony’s grave.”
While women have had the right to vote for the past 96 years, Clinton’s Democratic nomination inspired many voters to visit Anthony’s gravesite on Election Day this year. According to CNN, the New York gravesite has been a popular memorial throughout the election season.
It’s no secret that many are disappointed with this election’s outcome. Women are concerned about progress being undercut, especially with the Trump campaign’s negative rhetoric. As a mother, Dejong has concerns about what a Trump presidency could mean for her and 5-year-old son, Jack. “I’ve tried to show Jack by working and having my own interests and being involved in all sorts of issues…that that’s what a woman can and should be….[W]omen can be anything, whatever they choose to be, but I think that — I hope that — through my example, he’ll see that women can achieve things. Great things.”
Chanila German, a freshman psychology major, also voted for Clinton on Tuesday, even though she considers herself conservative. German has chosen to focus on the positives of this election; the great things that women achieved. “We didn’t get a first woman president,” she said. “It was a big loss last night, but it was a big win too.” Despite Clinton losing the presidential election, a number of women came out on top.
According to NPR, Ilhan Omar became the first Somali American elected to State Legislature. Kamala Harris became the first black person to represent California in the Senate. Catherine Cortez Masto became the first Latina elected to the Senate. Pramila Jayapal became the first Indian-American woman elected to Congress. Kate Brown became the first LGBT person elected governor.
Despite a male president being elected, diverse women triumphed in the down-ballots this year.
Taylor Randolph, a junior at Montclair State, voted for Clinton even though she was a Bernie Sanders supporter throughout the primaries. “I think [Clinton] totally did not get elected because of her sex, but the fact that she got as far as she did is still really impressive and says a lot about how the world is moving,” she said. “We’re not there yet, but I think that inherently shows that we’re starting to make steps toward a more feministic and safe world for women.”
Trump’s sexist campaign rhetoric made his win feel personal for women; Dejong called it “a punch in the gut.” But from another perspective, American women voted keeping in mind that this wasn’t the last chance for a female president. Young voters especially consider it a given that they will see one happen in their lifetime.