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    Trump Is Inadvertently Revitalizing the Women’s Movement

    By Louise “Lou” Fischer–

    November 8, 2016, was one of the worst nights in Democratic Party history: the improbable election of an unqualified, immature, unhinged, erratic, malignant narcissist for President of the United States. On a personal note, while attending what was supposed to be an Election Night celebration party, I literally got sick to my stomach. It was so bad and I was so desperate for relief that I actually believed my Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club colleague, Olivia, who said, “Drink this ginger ale. It has real ginger in it; you’ll feel better.” I didn’t feel better that night, and for the past year, every time I read an inappropriate tweet or hear the President on TV or radio, I truly do get sick to my stomach.

    The current administration is very bad for women. The President, an outspoken, misogynistic, bullying womanizer who brags about “grabbing women by the pussy,” has appointed the least diverse and most male-dominated cabinet since the era of Don Draper and the TV show Mad Men. With a Republican majority in both the House and the Senate and many State Legislatures and Governorships, it is pretty clear that reproductive rights for women are in danger of being stripped away along with every other right, freedom and liberty women have fought for since the feminist movement began over 50 years ago.

    Conversely, the previous administration was good for women. Barack Obama was a hands-on feminist Dad with a brilliant policy mind. The First Lady was a fiercely intelligent woman who successfully led important political and socially conscious initiatives and served the country with grace, elegance and humor. The Affordable Care Act made contraception affordable and accessible. Sometimes it was even free! Gender-rating by insurance companies was prohibited; women could not be charged more for gender-based health issues. Being a woman was no longer considered a “pre-existing condition.” The Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states, “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the military was repealed, important protections for female workers were enacted to combat discrimination at work, and colleges were forced to crack down on sexual assault against women on campus.

    And then Trump and his merry band of he-man, woman-hating Republican sycophants came along to dismantle Obama’s feminist legacy: the Affordable Care Act, workplace protections for women, contraception access, women’s right to choose, LGBT equality, crackdowns on fighting campus rape, and so many more.

    The election of Donald Trump, however, has galvanized the women’s movement more so than any other president in modern times. The day after the inauguration, millions of women around the world held the largest mass global protest in history. In San Francisco, we suffered through freezing and unrelenting rain—even my partner Amy, whose two least favorite things are being cold and being in a downpour—said, “My feet are soaked and I’m freezing, but we need to show the world that we’re finishing this march!” The Women’s March was the seminal moment of the rebirth of the women’s movement. This year’s March was equally energizing and well-attended.

    Trump’s election inspired thousands of women to run for office. Not only were they appalled by the behavior and political ideologies of the (mostly) male incumbents, but they also realized they are more qualified to hold public office than even the President of the United States. The biggest success story of 2017 was the 100-member Virginia State Legislature. Sixty-one women filed papers to run, 51 made it past the primaries and 18 won, including openly transgender woman Danica Roem, who in pure poetic justice unseated an 11-term incumbent who dubbed himself the state’s “chief homophobe.”

    EMILY’s List president Stephanie Schriock announced that at the end of 2017, 20,000 women had stated their intention to run for public office in the U.S., an historic and massive increase from previous years. It’s clear that women led the fight for equality in 2017 and have no intention of letting up in 2018. It’s not that women suddenly woke up on January 21, 2017, and started to care about feminist and women’s issues, but for the first time in decades, women have a shared cause and a framework of resistance organizations to make their voices heard.

    While the gains have been good, remember that it’s been 94 years since the first version of the Equal Rights Amendment was drafted and it’s still not in the Constitution (hope springs eternal). Twenty-six years after the 1992 historic electoral victories of the “Year of the Woman,” when women were elected to the House and Senate in record numbers, women still hold just one-fifth of congressional seats, one-quarter of state legislative seats and one-eighth of governorships. Twenty-four states, including California, have never had a female governor. My home state, Connecticut, is one of only two states to have elected female governors from both major parties.

    While it shocks me to think this, let alone commit it to print, Donald Trump has unknowingly reignited the women’s movement and incited the shift from the well-dressed white-pantsuit nation who work “within the system of establishment politics” to a wild, “roll around in the mud” movement, but wild and muddy is what feminists need to keep the momentum going. We need to keep getting muddy; I look terrible in white pants anyhow.

    Louise (Lou) Fischer is the Immediate Past Co-Chair of the Board of Directors for the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club and has served as an appointed and elected Delegate for the State Democratic Party. She is a San Francisco Commissioner and has served in leadership positions in multiple non-profit and community based organizations.