On November 2, 2016 I joined Pantsuit Nation, an online community of Hillary supporters. The group, now almost four million strong, comprised people of many different backgrounds and beliefs, united by our support of Hillary and fear of a Trump presidency.
I posted an introduction after joining, which you can read here. And I was overwhelmed and overjoyed by the welcome I received. Over 3,600 people liked my post, and there were 412 comments. Many people asked for permission to share what I had said elsewhere. I was showered with love and affirmation, not only from fellow pro-life Catholics but from people of every imaginable ideological stripe, including many, many pro-choice women. After a year of feeling adrift and alone, it was a heady sensation.
Too bad it didn’t last.
It turned out that without Hillary to hold us together this great movement of women is breaking down along tired and predictable lines, and those of us who are both pro-life and progressive are left out in the cold once more. The New Wave Feminists, erstwhile official partners of the upcoming Women’s March on Washington, are now officially NOT. Pantsuit Nation now overflows with post after post of women sharing their positive experience with abortion.
I felt this backlash coming and it’s one reason I’ve mostly only lurked on the pages of the state and local offshoots of Pantsuit Nation. I’m so tired of being marginalized for one reason or another. I am sick at heart over the notion that there is only one kind of feminist–our pro-life feminist foremothers be damned!–that the right to unlimited abortion apparently trumps all and that some of us are not woman enough to participate in a Women’s March! As I posted on Facebook, “It’s like you are not an actual woman if you are not pro-choice.”
Rebecca Bratton Weiss makes an excellent case for why the feminist movement needs to embrace pro-life feminists. This resonated with me especially: “We have risked personal and professional relationships in our staunch opposition to Donald Trump, our refusal to accept him as representative of anything remotely pro-life. I personally lost a business associate when I spoke out against his boasts of sexual assault, and the latent misogyny in those who dismissed this as ‘locker room talk.’ I’ve been spied on and screen-shotted by right-wingers who seem more interested in controlling women than in saving lives.”
I, too, was attacked for my constant opposition to Donald Trump. As I wrote days before the election: “Already today I’ve received tweets hashtagged hypocrite, babykiller, and cafeteriaCatholic. It’s just another day in an election season during which I’ve been unfriended by an actual family member, deemed excommunicated by the friend of a friend, and attacked in a public Facebook post by someone I thought was a friend, all because I shared political articles that they didn’t agree with.”
Alice Paul, author of the original Equal Rights Amendment, said that abortion is “the ultimate exploitation of women.” For pro-life feminists who risked a lot to vote for and publicly support Hillary, it’s adding insult to injury to not only end up with Trump as President but also to be sidelined by those who should accept us as allies.
Note: I am happy to report that the Knoxville Women’s March has chosen not to officially adopt the national march’s platform and is aiming for an event that is unifying and non-partisan.