By now you may have heard of a fabulous Facebook group called Pantsuit Nation – as of this writing, it numbers over 1.7 million members. 1.7 MILLION, people. That’s incredible. It’s a place to get your Hillary love on – to be positive and encouraging, to help the campaign and get out the vote, etc, etc, etc. It’s rise has been lightening quick – it’s barely 3 weeks old. And despite how I usually being added to groups without permission, I’m grateful to whoever added me to this one. It’s a panacea for me…cool water on a hot day. It’s been remarkably free from trolls, and people are obeying the rules of staying positive, and being supportive of the ones who are telling their stories. Someone compared it to a Humans of New York page, but for Hillary supporters everywhere. That’s a perfect description.
One trend taking hold there, and elsewhere, however, is one I’ll not adopt, and I’d like to explain why without casting aspersions on those who chose to adopt or take part in it. That trend is, “On election day, we shall wear white.” To honor the Suffragettes. Or something. (Suffragettes also wore violet, green and gold.)
I will not be wearing white. If you have a white pantsuit, and you love it and look great in it, by all means, wear it if you’re so inclined. I’m not discouraging it, so relax. If you want to wear it to honor the Suffragettes, I respect that, as well. It simply is not the way in which I choose to honor the Suffragettes.
I’m honoring them by voting. I’m honoring them by raising feminist boys. I honored them by marrying a feminist man. I’ll honor them by voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton. But I have a problem with the white thing. Personally, I have nasty and negative associations with imposing all white dress on ceremonies and traditions. Klan rallies inspire terror – it’s participants cloaked all in white cloaks and hoods. White is also associated with female “purity” – a notion I find icky at best, and oppressive at worst. (Full disclosure – I wore white at my wedding – I do love a white wedding dress AND a white pantsuit – but not because of what it tells me about the state of the wearer’s hymen.)
Back to the pantsuits, though, as someone who is fairly involved in the racial justice movement, anything that is all-white tends to make me twitch. You know. Like the original Suffragette movement. I’m well-aware that these women were badasses supreme. They were brave beyond belief, brilliant, laid their lives on the lines and endured attempts to break their bodies and wills that would make any grown human shudder. That cannot be denied, and I will not diminish that sacrifice and accomplishment.
Nor will I, however, minimize or erase how incredibly racist and exclusively available to only white women the movement was. To too many of the Suffragettes, it wasn’t politically expedient to include Black women in their fight. To too many Suffragettes, it was a repulsive and repugnant thought to include Black women in their fight. Regardless of how typical of the times it was, it was awful. Regardless of how long ago it was, it is still present in 21st Century Feminism. It is still causing pain to Women of Color. Seeing as how that is something I make it my business to put front and center in my writing, my life, my consciousness, I’m gonna say no to the white pantsuit for myself.
I will be voting to honor the Suffragettes. I will be wearing a pantsuit to honor Hillary. That pantsuit will be brown and black to honor the Women of Color who have been (and to a lesser but still-too-large degree, still are) left out of the movement.
Because I like my Feminism intersectional. Somehow, I think Hillary would approve.
image courtesy of author