Last night’s State of the Union Address was eventful, to say the least. President Trump’s trial in the Senate is expected to conclude today with a vote to acquit him, according to the New York Times. Meanwhile, in his speech, he vowed to end late-term abortion of “babies,” made false claims about things like drug prices (see CNN reporter Daniel Dale’s Twitter feed for further fact-checking), and vowed to “always protect patients with preexisting conditions” despite wanting to overturn Obamacare with no replacement plans. In addition to gloating about fighting ISIS, Trump gave conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh — who has been criticized for past racist and sexist remarks — a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Ultimately, the speech felt like a campaign rally. “Jobs are booming,” Trump said. “Incomes are soaring. Poverty is plummeting. Crime is falling. Confidence is surging and our country is thriving and highly respected again.”
Amidst a backdrop of some palpable tension between Trump and Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — he turned away when she tried to shake his hand, and after his speech, she tore her copy in half, a moment that’s now gone viral — many Democratic women dressed in white for the occasion, with some wearing green Equal Rights Amendment pins ahead of the House vote on the issue impending this month, according to PBS.
Why white? The outfits were a nod to the suffrage movement in which women fought for voting rights, leading to the ratification of the 19th amendment that legally granted women the right to vote in 1920. This year will mark the 100th anniversary of the landmark occasion. According to USA Today, the democratic women of the House have worn white to all of Trump’s State of the Union Addresses. When accepting the democratic nomination for president in 2016, Hillary Clinton also wore white, while in 1984 Geraldine Ferraro wore the color when accepting the nomination to be the first female candidate for vice president for a major American political party at the Democratic convention, the outlet reports.
Throughout history, intentional dressing and specifically color in fashion have often been used as a vehicle for expressing political solidarity. Therefore, in a time when women are fighting for reproductive rights, equal pay, and representation in every industry, the white outfits were a powerful form of protest, sending a message to Trump and his allies that democratic women are standing together and will not back down.
“This is a sign of women empowerment and unity,” Rep. Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y. said outside the House chamber. “It is important for everyone, including the president, to understand that we play an important role here in the Congress and elsewhere.”
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