What Women Have to be Thankful for in 2016

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Holland Ferguson

Feminist and Environmentalist, Writer

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In two months, Donald Trump will be sworn in the president of the United States, and America will have to come to terms with what that means. We can plan fleeing to Canada or Europe, detail the ways in which our persons, rights, and opportunities will be threatened or blatantly stripped, and we can blame the voters, the non-voters, and the establishment for this outcome, but at the end of every day we have to sleep. We have to put our heads down somewhere. Frankly, only the most privileged people can seriously entertain the notion of moving to another country because a politician they disagree with has been elected.

Thus far, we have found solace in our insular groups. My groups of female friends in addition to my family and husband have all been incredible sounding boards. Discussing our outrage, diving into the possibilities of the next two or four years, and drinking away our despair has been the primary conversation and social activities since Election Day.

On this Thanksgiving, we have to ask ourselves a meta question – what do we have to be thankful for this year?

Intersectional Feminism Has Gained Momentum

The rise and social acceptance of intersectional feminism has skyrocketed this year. It began in January when Beyonce dropped “Formation” before the Super Bowl, and then she performed her hit with a group of women dressed in outfits reminiscent of the Black Panthers. Beyonce arrived with her own display of feminism. While anti-women groups crowed at the mainstream presentation of both the Black Lives Matter movement and the demonstration of power by non-white women, the rest of us cheered. Suddenly, BLM had support from other mainstream groups. For white women, like myself, we applauded a moment that was magical and empowering for our sisters. It was an amazing moment in the history of women but especially for black women.

The advocacy for trans* rights has also gone mainstream this year. The rights of non-binary individuals and trans* individuals has been part of the national, if not global, conversation about equality. Of course, this conversation has only just started, and there are still prejudices and hate to overcome, but there has been a social awareness and acknowledgment of cisnormativity.

Women Have Broken Barriers

While Secretary Clinton did not break through that largest and most difficult barrier, she did receive more votes than Donald Trump indicating that more people thought she was capable of running the country than her opponent. This is the first time ever that a woman has received votes for president that rival her male counterparts.

Kellyanne Conway was the first successful female GOP presidential campaign manager. Women now have the largest majority in the U.S. Senate than ever before, and minority women now have more representation in the Senate than ever before. Granted, those numbers are nowhere close to being equal to the male representation in the Senate, but we are closer than ever to making the Senate less of a boy’s club.

Women are also breaking barriers in men’s sports beyond broadcasters as coaches and referees.  Women are also making strides in medicine, technology, and in traditionally male jobs like border patrol agents. Traditional gender roles seem to be less prevalent across professional positions as women continue to break through male-dominated fields.

Women’s Health as a Policy Priority

Abortion access and birth control access have, again, been talking points during the election cycle. But the Supreme Court struck down Texas’ restrictive abortion law this past summer as it was arguably one of the most important rulings since Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The restriction would have shut down clinics whose physicians do not have admitting privileges at local hospitals – a solution for a problem that did not exist and only burdened women who sought abortions.

Women have also had two years of Obamacare-based insurance coverage for gynecological screenings and birth control coverage. Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition warranting higher insurance premiums and all birth control being “off formulary.” While the president-elect’s agenda for women is regressive and directly threatens our autonomy, there has been a campaign to get IUDs before he takes office.

Depending on which type you use, your IUD could last longer than the Trump presidency, and that’s something we can all be thankful for.