Women in Politics Who Are Breaking Boundaries
It’s Women’s Equality Day (still not equal though)
( @aoc / Instagram)
From mere whispers in their husband’s ears to outcries in the streets, women’s voices revolutionized into the right to vote 100 years ago. Throughout history, men swept women under the roof of their home, but with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment women gained a step closer to a door of opportunity.
Today is Women’s Equality Day, and there is a lot to celebrate.
A record number of women serve in the current 116th Congress; In just the House of Representatives, 102 members are women. And while this is groundbreaking, there is still the unfortunate matter that the record is now only 23.4% female.
It’s fair to say that our government is nowhere near gender-balanced. Luckily, many of the women kicking ass in those Congressional halls are fierce.
Second in line for President Nancy Pelosi is a firework as the first female Speaker of the House, popularly known for not letting President Trump get away with his BS.
Similarly known for her wicked debate skills, Senator Kamala Harris made history this month when she became the Democratic vice presidential nominee, making her the first Black woman of South Asian descent on a presidential ticket.
In celebration of this year’s Women’s Equality Day, Harris wrote an Op-Ed in The Washington Post calling for expanded voting rights as she reminds America that on this day 100 years ago only white women could vote.
“When the 19th Amendment was ratified, at last, Black women were again left behind: Poll taxes, literacy tests and other Jim Crow voter suppression tactics effectively prohibited most people of color from voting," she wrote.
While racism remains entrenched in the U.S. system, women of color defy them.
In 2019, Minnesota representative Ilhan Omar became the first Somali-American, first African-born American, and one of the first two Muslim Americans to serve in Congress, alongside representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. (Tlaib also happens to be known for the iconic tweet, “We’re going to impeach this Motherfucker.”)
Ayanna Pressley, who became the first Black congresswoman in Massachusetts in 2018, has been praised for shaking up the eurocentric appearances of Congress with her Senegalese twists and more recently glowing bald head after facing alopecia and hair loss.
In the more recent fight to protect Black lives, Pressley has actively sought police reform.
“You believe black lives matter? So legislate like it. Invest like it,” she told Rolling Stone. “This is the moment. This is the reckoning.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Puerto Rican “girl from the Bronx,” is the youngest congresswoman in American history. Since day one, she’s been notably open about her experiences in Congress, regularly answering questions on her Instagram stories and showing new sides to the Congress floor.
That also means openly speaking out against misogynistic comments received by her male coworkers. Who can forget when Florida Representative Ted Yoho called her disgusting, crazy and a “fucking bitch”?
While most women aren’t belittled on as large of a platform, these hurtful words aren’t new to Ocasio-Cortez, nor is for most women. AOC just has to also face it on a national, governmental level.
“This issue is not about one incident. It is cultural. It is a culture of lack of impunity, of accepting a violence, and violent language against women. An entire structure of power that supports that,” she said.
From her stunning hoop earrings to her poppin’ cherry red lips (what a bad bitch!), much of AOC’s femininity is critiqued on a major political level, arguably highlighting how some men in Congress really feel about the increased uteruses in the room.
In a recent beauty routine video for Vogue, she said even though she paints her face as presentable, her decisions, as well as other women and femme-people, are not frivolous, but are substantive.
The representation of women in Congress doesn’t just pave steps forward to equal representation in government, it also instills confidence and inspiration to the women around the country that their voice can be heard — in a boardroom, or simply at the polls.
The first time Tiffany Silva, 21-year-old Beauty Manager at Rowdy, voted, she sauntered into the polls with red lipstick. Now, she continues to smother the color on her lips like Ocasio-Cortez.
When she read about Ocasio-Cortez for the first time, Silva said she teared up. As a Latina and first-generation woman who originally is from up north, Silva said she identifies with Ocasio-Cortez and feels a pang of pride to see her hold power.
“Especially how our current presidency talks about immigrants, it's just sometimes so disheartening, but when you see someone like AOC really fighting for us, it just really really provokes an emotional response,” Silva said. “It's just so enlightening and heartwarming and inspirational to see her fighting for what we didn't have.”
For over 100 years women have crawled across tall walls to gain the right to vote, so now we must carry their legacy. It is time to vote ourselves. It is time to reach full equality between men and women — and that means all women, regardless of race, gender or sexuality.
We cannot stop until we truly are equal.
Katie Delk is an Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. Her simple pleasures include meditating, sitting beneath trees, writing poetry and blasting '70s music. She cares immensely about the earth, powerful women and social justice. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org more info.
Online Editor Lauren Rousseau contributed to the reporting in this story.