Despite everything, 2017 is still the year of women.

Despite the loss, the subtext of what that loss meant and the consequences that came along with it, women have shown overwhelming fortitude in their resistance to the powers that be.

I won’t re-litigate the election; we remember how we felt: the hope, the heartbreak, the worry and fear. It’s also not about party politics; it’s much more than ideological differences. And, most importantly, it’s about what happened after the election.

Already the consequences of 2016 have fostered a wider female community, one that is standing up for itself. There is now this sense that we have each other’s backs, we’re in this together and we are on the same team, fighting as one.

The movement has permeated our society, living on our screens and marching in our streets. Feminist stories have dominated our pop culture and have borne us iconic heroines such as Offred in “The Handmaid’s Tale'” and the new “Wonder Woman,” which has brought in $400 million domestically and inspired young girls and grown women alike. And in the male-dominated world of political satire and late night television, “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” has soared in its hilarious and breathless effort to take on this administration and policies that hurt the most vulnerable among us.

Our elected officials are speaking up and are saying — in their own way — that they are not going to put up with belittlement or intimidation. They are demanding respect and a seat the table.


We now have rallying cries derived from these women in government who have risen up as leaders and icons of the movement. California Rep. Maxine Waters, lovingly referred to by the millennial crowd as Auntie Maxine, inspired an a capella dance mix when she invoked House floor procedure, proclaiming she was “reclaiming my time” during a tussle with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who was not answering her questions. Another tagline that skyrocketed to the top of trending topic lists and has landed on the fronts of T-shirts is “nevertheless, she persisted,” which was directed at Sen. Elizabeth Warren after she continued to speak against the appointment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, even after being told to stop.

Our very own Sen. Susan Collins stood up to her party, and to the many men who are at the helm, and did what she thought was right with her ‘no’ vote on health care. For an entire month, under immense pressure and after oddly seeming to be challenged to a duel by a Texas congressman, she never wavered; and in the end, she voted in the interest of women’s health care and the care of other marginalized constituents. The other savior of the Senate, Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, was threatened by the secretary of the interior that if she didn’t vote her party’s way, it would be bad news for her home state. She, too, remained solid.

We can thank Sen. John McCain for coming in at the end and stopping a harmful piece of legislation created through a haphazard and secretive process, but without Collins and Murkowski standing up and doing the right thing, the Affordable Care Act would not have had any hope at all.

The most tangible sign of the new levels of engagement, and that this is a sustainable movement, comes from an EMILY’s List report. The national political action committee, whose executive director is Maine’s own Emily Cain, says it is expanding its operations after 16,000 women in the last nine months since the election have reached out to the group about running for office. That number is a record for the committee, who saw 920 inquiries over the two-year period of 2015 and 2016, which also had been a record-setting number at the time.

But what does all of this amount to? What does it mean when millions march around the world to take a stand against one man, and the patriarchal norms and violent masculinity that he represents?

To me, it shows the resiliency of women. When our rights are threatened, we will stand up and take to the street, not only chanting but also illustrating in full force that indeed, the future is most certainly female. It all demonstrates how until the end, we will be beating on that high, hard glass ceiling until our fingers are broken, our knuckles bleeding, trying to free ourselves from this barrier in our pursuit of equity and liberty for all.

Emily Higginbotham, originally from Illinois, is a copy editor at the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. You can follow her on Twitter: @EmilyHigg. Or reach her by email: [email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: