Keeping Score: Getting Feminists Back in the White House

In every issue of Ms., we track research on our progress in the fight for equality, catalogue can’t-miss quotes from feminist voices and keep tabs on the feminist movement’s many milestones. We’re Keeping Score online, too—in this biweekly roundup.

Lest We Forget

madam vice president kamala harris
(Photo from @KamalaHarris / Twitter)

+ “I am thinking of the women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality, liberty and justice for all, including the Black women, who are too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy. All the women who worked to secure and protect the right to vote for over a century: 100 years ago with the 19th Amendment, 55 years ago with the Voting Rights Act, and now, in 2020, with a new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots and continued the fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard. Tonight, I reflect on their struggle, their determination and the strength of their vision—to see what can be unburdened by what has been—I stand on their shoulders.”

—Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s acceptance speech on Nov. 7 in Wilmington, Delaware. Her all-white ensemble honored the uniform of suffragettes.

+ “[The nomination of Amy Coney Barrett] is the last gas of the anti-choice minority trying to hold power wherever they possibly can, because they know that they’re up against a majority of people who don’t believe what they believe. So this is a strategy of power.”

—Heidi Seick, #VOTEPROCHOICE co-founder and CEO during a recent call with Ms.

+ “There will be a smooth transition—to a second Trump administration.”

—Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, upon being asked about the transition of power to President-Elect Joe Biden.

+ “I knew in my heart [hosting Melania Trump] was the right thing to do—because our democracy is so much bigger than anybody’s ego. Our love of country requires us to respect the results of an election even when we don’t like them or wish it had gone differently—the presidency doesn’t belong to any one individual or any one party. To pretend that it does, to play along with these groundless conspiracy theories—whether for personal or political gain—is to put our country’s health and security in danger. This isn’t a game. So I want to urge all Americans, especially our nation’s leaders, regardless of party, to honor the electoral process and do your part to encourage a smooth transition of power, just as sitting presidents have done throughout our history.”

— Former First Lady Michelle Obama on a recent Instagram post.

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+ President-elect Joe Biden announced on Nov. 13 that Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, associate dean for health equity research at Yale University, will co-chair his COVID-19 task force. Nunez-Smith, a Black woman, is dedicated to bridging health care access for marginalized communities.

+ Dr. Jill Biden will be the first first lady to hold a paid job outside the White House, as she plans to continue teaching English at Northern Virginia Community College. As first lady, her planned causes will be free community college, supporting military families and expanding cancer research.

Jill Biden speaking at the DNC on Aug. 18, standing in an empty classroom where she taught English in the 1990s. (Screenshot)

+ Midshipman 1st Class Sydney Barber is the first Black woman to lead 4,400 fellow students as brigade commander at the U.S. Naval Academy.

+ Black Americans, particularly Black women, voted in unprecedented numbers this year, propelling President-Elect Joe Biden to victory. Thanks to the work of leaders like Stacey Abrams, Nsé UfotHelen ButlerDeborah Scott and Tamieka Atkins even historically Republican-voting states flipped blue. As a result, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will become the first HBCU graduate in the White House.

+ Sarah McBride (D-Del.) was elected as the country’s first openly transgender state senator. She is a former Human Rights Campaign spokesperson, and beat her Republican challenger Steve Washington by a wide margin, ending with approximately 73 percent of the unofficial tally.

+ Joe Biden is the first president-elect to ever mention transgender people in his victory speech.

+ A housing complex owned by Black transgender people has opened in New York City. The community, Gay and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society (GLITS), is the first of its kind.

+ Singer Harry Styles is the first solo man to be on the cover of Vogue magazine. Moreover, he is wearing a ball grown in this ground-breaking photoshoot.

+ All four members of The Squad—Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)—were reelected to their seats in the House, marking a victory for progressive women of color.

+ New Mexico, which is represented by three members of the House, became the first state to have a delegation composed entirely of women of color. Representative-elects Teresa Leger Fernandez (D), Yvette Herrell (R) and incumbent Deb Haaland (D) will serve in the 117th congress, with the two latter candidates giving a voice to Native American residents of New Mexico.

Left to right: Deb Haaland (@IndianCountry / Twitter); Yvette Herrell (Wikipedia); and Teresa Leger Fernandez (@BOLDDems / Twitter).

+ The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors now consists of only women, as state Senator Holly Mitchell won the District 2 race.

+ Nanaia Mahuta, appointed by prime minister Jacinda Ardern, is New Zealand’s first Indigenous female foreign minister.

+ Charmaine McGuffy, the first female major at the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, said she was fired in 2017 because of her sexual orientation as a lesbian. Now, she’s been elected sheriff herself, hoping to introduce criminal justice reform focused on rehabilitation.

+ Joe Biden has made caregiving a part of his economic agenda, including universal free preschool for children ages 3 and 4, as well as improved pay and benefits for teachers. This election cycle, early education ballot initiatives passed in the state of Oregon, as well as the cities of St. Louis, San Antonio and Colorado, which approved universal pre-K for 4-year-olds. (Read more about Biden’s agenda for women in this weekly series.)

+ The number of immigrant children yet to be reunited with their parents is actually 666—much higher than the original estimate.

+ Emily Harrington became the first woman, and fourth person, to free-climb the Golden Gate route up El Capitan in less than a day, scaling it in just over 21 hours.

+ Kim Ng is the first-ever female Major League Baseball general manager.

“Baseball belongs to everyone,” wrote the MLB on Instagram. (@mlb / Instagram)

+ Lucille Bridges, mother of Ruby Bridges, died at 86 years old on Tuesday, Nov. 10 after battling cancer. In 1960, Bridges brought her six-year-old daughter to a previously segregated New Orleans school under the protection of federal marshals.

+ Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres are now the first openly gay Black Congressmen.

+ A federal court upheld the use of affirmative action in Harvard University admissions, despite complaints of discrimination against Asian American applicants. The judges determined that in prioritizing diversity, the university still complies with civil rights laws.

+ The Boy Scouts of America face more than 82,000 sexual abuse accusations against scout leaders, reaching a higher total than accusations against the Catholic Church.

How We’re Doing

+ An Aug. 25 poll showed three in four (76 percent) battleground voters support reproductive freedom for women. The poll, released by NARAL, surveyed residents of North Carolina, Arizona, Michigan and Iowa.

+ An analysis by the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership demonstrates a lack of gender diversity in coronavirus coverage. Women experts were only cited only one-third of the time by major news sources.

+ Four in five Americans refute Trump’s claims of victory post-election, according to a recent Reuters poll. More than 50 percent of Republican respondents acknowledged President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory.

+ According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, only 2.6 percent of active doctors in the U.S. are Black women. Women are half of the population, but only 36 percent of doctors, and less than 6 percent of American doctors are Latinx.

+ Child care is the largest expense for many families, and yet educators—disproportionately Black and Latina women—earn an average of $12 an hour, according to the center for the study of child care employment at the University of California, Berkeley. Half rely on public assistance. Even when they have the same education, preschool teachers earn half of what kindergarten teachers do, the center found.

+ Black women make up less than just 3 percent of American doctors.

+ A new record of at least 141 women will serve in the next Congress.

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About and

Sarah Montgomery is a senior at USC. She is passionate about using writing as a tool for social change. Her Starbucks beverage of choice is the iced skinny vanilla latte—personal cup and reusable straw, of course.
Sophie Dorf-Kamienny is a junior at Tufts University studying sociology and community health. She is a Ms. contributing writer, and was formerly an editorial fellow, research fellow and assistant editor of social media. You can find her on Twitter at @sophie_dk_.