It’s time to get out the pussy hats again. And make sure you pair them with voter registration cards. Last year’s Women’s March, held Jan. 21, 2017, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew an estimated 4.2 million protestors in more than 650 marches around the country and even more around the globe. It has been described as the largest single-day demonstration in U.S. history. The marches provided an outlet for people across the country to vent dissatisfaction with Trump, to express extreme disappointment in the election results, and to launch a new nationwide movement to energize people (especially women) to take action.
The 2018 marches, scheduled for the weekend of Jan. 20 and 21, might be even bigger.
Besides the rise in grassroots interest and action, consider what’s happening on the election front:
- A record number of women—49 Democrats and 30 Republicans—are running or “seriously considering running” for governor in 2018 races. In all of U.S. history, only 39 women have served as governors, and there are currently only six women governors right now.
- As of mid-December, there were already more than 600 women registered to run for federal and statewide offices across the country, according to figures from the Rutgers University Eagleton Institute of Politics and its Center for American Women and Politics.
- More than 26,000 women have reached out to EMILY’s List for 2018 election help. (That same total from the last election cycle was 960 women.) Those 26,000 represent all 50 states, and about half are under 45 years old.
- The group She Should Run aims for 250,000 women running for elective office by 2030.
- Successes by women candidates in Virginia in November 2017 are prompting even more women to seek office, at all levels—from school boards to county judges to state legislatures to Congress. As an ABC story reported: "I've never seen anything like this," said Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY's List. "Every day, dozens more women come to our website, come to our Facebook page and say, 'I am mad as hell. I want to do something about it. What should I do now?'"
The theme of this year’s marches will be running for office—and voting. Organizing for the 2018 marches started after last year’s march and has been going on for weeks and even months in cities across the U.S. This year’s marches are going by a variety of names: Women’s March 2.0. Reclaiming Our State. Persisting 2.0. Look Back March Forward. Women’s March to the Polls. Sister March. Raise Your Vote. Women’s March on Washington (or fill in the name of whatever city is participating). There’s no doubt that marchers nationwide will be joined by many women candidates.
One way or another, there’s gonna be a whole lotta marching goin’ on—some of it right into elective office. Women will show the country at the ballot box that they’re taking the #PowerToThePolls.
After the Senate confirmed Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991, despite law professor Anita Hill’s credible testimony about Thomas’s sexual harassment and creepy behavior, women responded by running for office, and 1992 became the “Year of the Woman” in electoral politics. Two dozen women were elected to the House, and the number of Democratic women in the Senate rose from one to five.
I have a feeling that 2018 is going to leave 1992 in the dust.
As feminist author Marianne Schnall wrote in a recent CNN piece with the headline, “2018 will be the year of women”:
In response to these attempts to diminish our power and silence our voices, women are harnessing their outrage. They are more engaged, energized and resolute than ever. Issues that were long ignored are finally coming to the surface, and women are beginning to speak up and use their voices and influence to demand real change. …
Women are running for office in record numbers, there has been a dramatic increase of women donors funding campaigns, and more and more strong women leaders are emerging. Parity for women in politics is being rightfully reframed as an essential component of a reflective democracy, and the need for women's input and voices in government has never been more clear. …
Although 2017 has been full of obstacles, we can't deny that it has also emboldened women and girls. This is a potential tipping point, if we constructively use it and harness this energy. It requires that we all stay vigilant and address the issues we care about.
Besides countering Trump’s policies, women have become energized by the #MeToo movement addressing sexual assault and sexual harassment that emerged in the second half of 2017. The resignation or retirement of several lawmakers, some of whom were affected by the #MeToo scandals, also opens up several seats that at least some women candidates are seeking.
Most organizing for women’s marches is being done at local levels. Local media outlets are now just getting around to publicizing details of local groups’ organizational efforts for local marches. Details about one national coordinating effort can be found at the Women’s March website, which also directs people to various actions on issues such as gun violence, domestic violence, fossil fuel divestment, and (of course) registering to vote.
Las Vegas is the center of one such effort during its march, which is planned for Jan. 21. Its “Power to the Polls” event is framed as the start of a “national voter registration tour” ahead of the midterms.
A story on Quartz Media describing the 2018 Women’s March explains that efforts for this year’s marches started soon after last year’s activities. Katherine Siemionko, head of last year’s march in New York City, formed the Women’s Alliance, the nonprofit that grew out of last year’s team of march planners. The site lists participating cities that are planning their own marches, and the group’s Facebook page casts a much wider net and offers a way to indicate interest or to get free tickets. That page shows that dozens and dozens of American cities are planning marches (the number grows daily), with more events planned in cities worldwide: several Canadian cities, Munich, Rome, and more. Check the Facebook page to find a march or event near you.
Many groups are asking for marchers to register to help with planning and logistics—thousands upon thousands already have done so. Participants also are invited to volunteer and to make donations. The Chicago group, March to the Polls, is organizing under the auspices of the nonprofit Chicago Foundation for Women. It has its own closed-group Facebook page, and its Feminist Boutique is coordinating businesses selling “Merch for March” products to raise money for the march, such as books, T-shirts, buttons, candles featuring an image of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and more. A percentage of profits from these sales will go to cover expenses for the March to the Polls.
All marches are stressing voting and voter registration. Many groups around the country are pairing publicity about the marches with registering people to vote, including training voting registrars.
What could throw a frigid wrinkle into all of these plans is the weather. Since much of the eastern part of the country is sitting under a mass of polar air and digging out from a major winter storm, temperatures and conditions might not be too comfortable for spending much time outside. But the longer-term forecast is for more normal January temperatures nationwide by the weekend of Jan. 20. So even if you have to wear layers over long underwear, it will be important to show those in power that women mean business once again.
And in case you’re thinking of a new look for 2018, instead of a pink pussy hat, consider a new “Blue Wave” hat by Donna Druchunas designs. The new knitting pattern is available from Ravelry, a free social networking site for knitters and crocheters. The hat says “Blue 2018,” with wave designs along the sides and back, and the knitting pattern is available to download for free.
On the same page as the description of the Blue Wave hat are links to other groups offering ways to take action, such as:
The Sister District Project: If you live in a blue state or district, you can help elect Democrats in red districts near where you live.
Swing Left: Helps you find and commit to supporting progressives in your closest Swing District so that you can help ensure we take back the House in 2018.
Postcards to Voters: Write and send postcards to voters in dozens of key, close elections.
Indivisible: Has local groups in every district and holds call and text banking sessions to help get out the vote. You can work locally or in districts in other regions and states.
Vanity Fair took a lot of deserved grief for a ridiculous video advising Hillary Clinton to go away and perhaps take up knitting. Here’s a way to turn that “knitting” advice on its head—literally.