By Ellyn Fritz || News Editor
In my mother’s group chat with her college friends, one topic of conversation during the contentious days of the election was the recent New England earthquake felt in Massachusetts and some parts of Connecticut. In response to whether or not she felt the 3.6 magnitude earthquake in my hometown in CT, my mother responded “No, but maybe the Earth has finally shifted—we finally have the first woman in the White House.”
I often take for granted the momentum that the women preceding me created. I forget that the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote was only a few months ago. I sometimes fail to recognize the challenge my own mother has faced being the only female sitting in a board room filled with white men, constantly proving herself and her legitimacy in her job while the opposite sex felt justified, solely based on the power that came with their gender.
When President Trump took office, I was in disbelief that the country I was constantly told as a child I was ‘so blessed to grow up in,’ could elect a President that had a blatant disregard for equal rights. We elected a President who, quote, said, “You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” This was followed by, “Grab ’em by the ****. You can do anything.”
I was sixteen when Trump was elected. Formidable, naïve. And my standards for a President’s integrity came from President Barack Obama, so Trump’s utter lack of respect for women made me physically ill.
Despite President Trump’s twenty-six sexual assault allegations and his efforts to overturn federal protections on abortion, in some twisted way, I thank him for one thing from his time in office; he woke me up. He woke up the majority of women in my generation. In the past four years, I have realized the sanctity of my rights. I became aware of the importance of the Supreme Court and the fact that my rights hang in a precarious balance. I have realized that a representative democracy only functions well when we work to vote leaders into office who fight for everyone’s rights to the best of their ability
This clear view of the political landscape (informed by an F&M major in government) came into my perspective close to the end of Trump’s tumultuous term in office. It came near to the loss of the monumental Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg after her long and courageous battle with cancer. My devastation for the loss of an inspirational, unstoppable, and hard-fighting soul was mixed with the fear of what was to come next. RBG not only paved the way for women’s rights, but she served as a role model for a multitude of generations of women, too. Without her, my generation felt lost, missing our North Star, if you will.
However, on November 7th, the declaration of Joe Biden’s presidency broke ground and made history for women across the country. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be the first woman in the White House. And that gives me, and I’m assuming, the women around me, hope.
“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities,” Harris said, wearing a white pantsuit in homage to the suffragettes of the early twentieth century, in her first address to the nation as vice president-elect.
As former Vice President Joe Biden often vocalized his awareness of the challenges ahead of him and Harris to heal the country and begin to close the current gap of partisanship, I believe that Kamala Harris is the correct person for the role of Vice President, due to first and foremost, her qualifications, but also because she brings the perspective of multiple demographics.
Kamala Harris was the district attorney of San Francisco. She was elected Attorney General of California in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. Harris has served as the junior United States Senator from California since 2017. But she’s also more than a qualified resume. She’s the first woman, first black Vice President, first black woman Vice President, first South Asian American, and first South Asian American woman to fill the role. She’s known to her step-children as ‘Momala.’
Not only do we have Kamala Harris as a role model, but her husband, attorney Doug Emhoff, shows that despite stereotypes, either partner in a marriage can take a step back to let the other shine and show their intelligence and power. This type of fluidity across traditional gender roles is a fabulous example of what balancing success in a relationship in the future can look like.
Kamala Harris’s entrance into the White House is monumental: men have been the voice for both men and women for the past 250 years, but now we have men and women representing the American people, and that gives me hope for the future of equality in our democracy.
Junior Ellyn Fritz is the News Editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.