I work at a women’s college — the oldest in the country, in fact. I didn’t attend one myself, but being there feels good — as a woman, as a feminist, as a person, as an American.
For my job, I spend a lot of time promoting the achievements of our alumnae and students, as well as other women around the globe. I celebrate women’s education and women’s successes. I try to instill hope and courage. I attempt to inspire. In doing so, I am often inspired, hopeful, even occasionally courageous.
When a few months ago Hillary Clinton wore all white to accept the Democratic nomination as the first women presidential candidate in history, those in my office quickly recognized the significance of her outfit when I did not. Mount Holyoke, like other women’s colleges, has an annual parade where everyone dresses in white, the uniform of the suffragettes who, less than 100 years ago, fought mightily for women’s right to vote and for us to be equal participants in our democracy. Hillary attended a women’s college too, Wellesley. Her outfit was clearly carefully chosen in honor of our foremothers, and it struck me as quite poetic.
Since the nomination, and ramping up as the election neared, our social media channels were abuzz with articles and photos and Tweets proudly sharing the bonded feeling of sisterhood, the excitement of this women’s “first” accomplishment, of the potential for equal representation so many of us have wished for. I always wished for a woman as president. I couldn’t imagine any little girl or any woman who didn’t. Despite my desire for a different choice as first woman candidate (full disclosure: I backed Bernie Sanders), even I was getting swept up in anticipation.
Yesterday, faculty, staff and students alike — along with women around the country — wore white, and the hashtag #WearWhiteToVote became a thing online. Yesterday, alumnae posted articles about making history. Yesterday, nearly every girlfriend I have proudly posted selfies with “I voted” stickers affixed to their chests. I was moved. Yesterday, I, too, cast my ballot for Hillary, with the genuine hope that she would be our president elect today.
This morning, I heard about all of the students at the college who stayed up all night crying. This morning, I cancelled all of the social media posts I had carefully put together at work to publish today. This morning, I blacked out my profile photo on my personal Facebook page and then promptly closed it. This morning, I attended a meeting where, with most of our faces downcast, we discussed the need for more security on campus, just in case.
Still, by the end of the day, my officemates and I were talking about the editorial content for our quarterly magazine next year and what kind of impact we could make using that tool. We discussed the strategy for the campaign we are launching in January that focuses on applauding women’s education and empowerment, figuring the timing was still great — and the activity more important than ever. We five women sat around our circular meeting table and figured out ways to move forward — together — and to keep up the good fight.
Photo: Postcard of a Suffragette procession of 1911. Printed by H. Searjent of Ladbroke Grove, London. Public domain.