“Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
And so began a cultural moment in our country. It had, of course, been going on long before that. But one month after the tape of Donald Trump making these comments was released, he was elected President of the United States. It was an exposing of the underbelly of the world we really live in, of the misogyny and violence, and also the white male privilege that would allow these words and these deeds to go without consequence.
But here’s the silver lining: women haven’t forgotten. And according to our new research, American women are poised to fuel a massive re-alignment of our government at all levels in just a few short months.
A national poll from American Bridge and Lake Research Partners found that voters, especially Millennial women and African American women, are not just angry—they’re activated. Eighty percent of African American women and 70 percent of millennial women believe that the #MeToo movement has empowered women and girls, and 85 percent of African-American women and 82 percent of millennial women are likely to be more enthusiastic about voting in the upcoming elections as a result.
Between the election of Donald Trump, the era of #MeToo, the erosion of reproductive rights and an epidemic of gun and police violence, young people today are coming of age in a time of chaos and assault. They’re drowning in student debt, and they don’t know if they’ll ever own a home or afford a family or even keep a job. Many of them have never known an America not at war, have never gone to school without fear of a shooting, have never had a functioning Congress. They believe their institutions and elected leaders are failing them.
Not surprisingly, these realities were echoed in the research findings. Women, including 90 percent of Millennial women, react strongly and positively toward the value of taking control of when and whether to have children. Millennial and African American women were the most likely to identify as pro-choice: An impressive 75 percent of these voters, including 84 percent of millennial women, strongly agree that everyone must have the freedom to decide whether and when to become a parent. Although young women and women of color often have the least control—over their reproductive and sexual lives, their professional and economic lives and their political lives—they’re taking it back. American Bridge’s research showed not just historic enthusiasm for voting among women of color and young women, but also for encouraging their communities to vote.
Recent studies have found that more than 80 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment. And in just the first few months of this year, at least 39 bills to roll back abortion rights, and in some cases ban it altogether, have been introduced in at least 19 states. The Trump administration has launched an assault even on contraception and family planning. These attacks are about control— controlling women, our bodies and ultimately our place in the world—and women voters are mobilizing to reclaim their autonomy and power this November.
Women have always been the backbone of progress, women of color in particular. And women are already making history—marching, protesting and running for office in record numbers. This is how a political movement is built from the ground-up. This year is shaping up to be a case study in the myriad ways women are a force to be reckoned with.