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No matter your political beliefs, it’s a uniquely unsettling and, for millions of people, downright scary time to be an American. And if you’re among those feeling marginalized, know you’re that not alone—and that it’s okay to navigate your feelings in any manner that feels right (and safe) for you. Sure, that’s not much consolation when you’re being harassed for your gender, skin color, or religion; or when you’re watching president-elect Donald Trump tell Lesley Stahl he’s surprised to hear about hate crimes sweeping the country in his name. But if nothing else, something that will plant a small seed of hope in the place in your heart where dreams of electing the first female president were recently ripped away are the inspiring women who are on the rise in our country—and won’t be backing down anytime soon, on feminist issues or otherwise.
From entertainers like Kate McKinnon and Samantha Bee to politicians like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, these nine women are just a few names on a long list of ladies who are starting to do the difficult work—and resuming Hillary Clinton’s lifelong mission—to create an inclusive, open-minded, and diverse democracy in which no gender, skin color, heritage, or background is considered better than any other. We may be a ways away from true equality, but let’s take a cue from them to get off our butts and do something to make a change, too.
Last week, Harris, who’s been Attorney General of California since 2011, was elected Junior U.S. Senator. She made history as the second black woman to serve in the U.S. Senate, and there’s buzz that she could one day be the U.S. presidential candidate to successfully shatter the glass ceiling. Of the Republican-dominated Senate she’s soon to join, Harris sounds hopeful that she’ll still be able to work with her peers to get shit done. She told the Los Angeles Times that she sees an “alignment of interests on a number of issues,” and that she’s “looking forward to building those relationships.”
Catherine Cortez Masto
Cortez Masto is a Democrat from Nevada who was elected to the U.S. Senate last week after previously serving as the state’s Attorney General from 2007 to 2015. She’s spent her career fighting to protect Nevada families, and as the first Latina Senator, she shares many Americans’ view that a Trump presidency is a step backwards for minorities. She called “the level of racism and bigotry so astounding and disgusting, and he’s trying to mainstream it.” Still, at the end of the day, like Harris, it sounds like she’ll do whatever it takes to help make change: “It’s not necessarily about making history, but about gaining seats at the table.”
Comedian and “Full Frontal” TV host Bee made no bones about how she feels about last week’s results. “Our democracy just hoiked up a marmalade hairball with the whole world watching,” she said. “What we did was the democratic equivalent of installing an above-ground pool. Even if we’re lucky and it doesn’t seep into our foundations, the neighbors will never look at us the same way again. A majority of white women, faced with the choice between the first female president and a vial of weaponized testosterone, said, ‘I’ll take Option B. I just don’t like her.’ Hope you got your sticker, ladies. Way to lean out.” Still, Bee’s not just lashing out with anger—she still has hope for the U.S., she says, noting that Shonda Rhimes shows, Beyoncé, and the new women elected to Senate still make our country great. “Let’s get off the floor and get busy,” she said. “Especially you, white women. We’ve got some karma to work off.”
Warren, a Democrat and the Senior Senator from Massachusetts, was once seen as a power check on Clinton, and the potentially Wall Street-friendly Cabinet she might appoint as president (wow, our problems used to be so small). But as the election loomed closer, the rallied around the Democratic candidate, warning Trump—who repeatedly called Warren “Pocahontas”—that “nasty women vote” and canvassing for Clinton. In a conversation with Rachel Maddow after the results came in last week, Warren said that she’s grieved the loss and is ready to act. “There was a time to be really despondent about it, but the way I see it now is that we pick ourselves up and we fight back.” Amen.
A Democrat and Iraq War vet, Duckworth has been a U.S. Representative for Illinois since 2013—the first disabled woman to be elected to the position—and as of last week, will also become the state’s junior Senator. Thai by heritage, Duckworth is a strong advocate for gun control and has indicated via Twitter that while she knows “a lot of Americans are hurting right now… I plan to start off assuming that those on the other side of the aisle love this country as much as I do… When we agree, I’ll work with them on policies that help this nation. But when we disagree, I will stand up and fight for working people.”
If, by now, you haven’t seen last Saturday’s “SNL” cold open featuring McKinnon as Clinton—and every one of her SNL performances as the former presidential candidate, TBH—you need to ASAP (see below, and prepare to cry). She’s an awesome actress, a hilarious comedian, and, as we now know, a talented singer, who’s offered us plenty of comic relief throughout this election cycle, and hopefully will continue to do so during the Trump presidency, as Clinton or otherwise.
Hirono is a Democrat and the junior U.S. Senator from Hawaii, a post she’s held since 2013. Japanese American by heritage, Hirono was the first and only Asian-American woman elected to the Senate. For her part, she’s been clear on where she stands about Trump’s Cabinet. In regard to Trump’s decision to hire ex-Breitbart News executive and extreme alt-right conservative Steve Bannon, Hirono said during a Democratic press conference: “Quite frankly it’s sad that we are having a debate about whether a white supremacist should serve as a senior counselor to the president elect.”
There’s so much to say about our soon-to-be-former First Lady, but the first things that come to mind are her dignity and grace. Just today, a Trump supporter wrote a Facebook post that went viral, saying, “It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified first lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a Ape in heels.” Knowing there are people out there who still spew ignorant hate like this is beyond horrifying. Still, in spite of it all—because you can be sure, this is far from the first bigoted and baseless attack she’s endured—she still manages to give inspiring, pro-woman speeches, shoot elegant-as-hell magazine covers like this Vogue one, and oh, let’s not forget, give Melania Trump—our soon-to-be next First Lady—her best speech fodder. 😑
Parker-Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall, made a small but significant pro-woman gesture in the wake of last week’s election, posting a photo with her all-female protection team during a visit to the United Arab Emirates. She told the Daily Mail, “It’s fascinating. It is quite extraordinary to have them. I have never had four women looking after me [and] they are the most incredible women.”