Women lawmakers plan to wear black to the annual State of the Union address later this month, an echo of attendees at last weekend's Golden Globes, who also wore black dresses and tuxes, and in support of women nationwide, who've spoken out against sexual harassment and assault across multiple industries over the past several months.
After NBC reported the news on Twitter, Reps. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Lois Frankel (D-FL) confirmed that the effort had been proposed. "We stand with working people across this country who are demanding that men and women be able to work side-by-side, in dignity, in safety, and free of harassment," said Frankel in an interview with ELLE.com. Frankel added that while she anticipates that most women in the Democratic Working Women's Group, an association that she leads on the Hill, will wear black to the State of the Union event, it's "not about the color as much as it's about what Democrats believe in."
Frankel mentioned equal pay for men and women, better protections for all workers, and more comprehensive policies around sexual harassment prevention and deterrence in not just offices, but factories, restaurants, and hotels. Frankel confirmed, as was reported earlier this week, that she would use her plus-one invitation to bring a survivor of sexual harassment or assault to the speech, a statement she hopes will reach women who aren't quite as well-known as those who attended the Golden Globes. "I would be disingenuous if I said that what [actresses] did there didn't connect with us, but I will tell you we had discussions about wearing black before the Golden Globes. We want to speak for all people who've been affected by this."
Frankel said she's been moved by the kind of mutual support that women from different socioeconomic classes and with divergent experiences have shown each other, particularly in sharing their stories. "I think what we've learned over the past few months is that people telling stories is the best way to get across a powerful message. I think most members will invite people who have those kinds of stories to tell."
When prompted to address speculation that some Democrats could invite women who've accused President Trump himself of harassment and assault, Frankel demurred. "I don't know of anybody who is doing that," she said. "I think each one of us wants to communicate the message of the Democrats, which is really about a better deal - a better deal for the American public, a better deal in terms of pay, in terms of respect at work, a better deal in terms of support for our families."
And yet she conceded that many Americans, especially women, do perhaps want to see their representatives take an even more combative approach to Trump. "Some members will choose not to show up, and that's their statement. We want to be respectful, and so we chose to make a statement with a color." It's an effort Frankel spearheaded almost 12 months ago as well, when she rallied members of the DWWG to wear white to Trump's first address.
"Last year, there was so much fear about this president and a lot of fear of what he was going to do to women, and that's why we wore white, the suffragettes' color. With that said, I think a lot of our fears have come true; maybe most of them have come true. This year, it's going to be black."
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