Women in White State of the Union

Written by: Susan Massoudnia
On Tuesday, February 5th, the President of the United States (POTUS), Donald Trump, addressed the nation in a speech famously known as the State of the Union Address.

This historic speech dates back to the 1920’s, when for the very first time, the U.S. president of the time, spoke before the congress and addressed the nation about the country’s state of affairs.

Since then, all U.S. presidents have followed the practice and it has become a presidential convention. The purpose of this important speech is to make the nation aware of the accomplishments thus far in the presidency and to unfold the future expectations of the remaining years of the presidential term. The speech can potentially reaffirm the support of voters and increase the president’s chance to win another four-year term, if the president chooses to run again.

The main reason I started to write about this is not to speak about the speech, but to mention something very unique about this year’s address that I observed on TV.
As I was in the kitchen, getting some things done with my head down and half-listening to the speech on TV in the other room, I glanced over and the camera moved from the president to the congressional floor.

The image showed Donald trump in Capitol Hill on the floor of the Congress, behind the podium, before the hundreds of elected representatives in the joint session of Congress. As I glanced up at the TV, suddenly something caught my eye. I noticed a sea of white amid all the mostly dark-suited men and women. At first I couldn’t make out the patch of white. I curiously looked closer and realized that the white were all the newly elected women representatives dressed head-to-toe in stark white clothes. I quickly realized that this was an intended act for media visibility. It was a show of power and a display of women’s new stronghold in leadership, government and lawmaking.

Women in the government has dressed in white throughout history to represent their struggle.
It was awe-inspiring to see such an inspirational gesture right in the heart of our nation. It was an “in your face,” bold and courageous display of support of women in the aftermath of the recently publicized injudicious acts by powerful men in all sectors of our society. As a woman, witnessing this solidarity among women lawmakers, instantly empowered me.

As exuberant as I felt, a question lingered in my mind about the significance of the color white. After researching it, I found out that wearing white in protest goes back to the 1920’s and the suffrage movement. The suffrage movement is a significant event in U.S. history. Women flocked to the streets dressed in white demanding equality and protesting their inability to vote. Women were able to successfully adopt the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution shortly after, which gives citizens of the U.S. the right to vote, regardless of sex (men or women). It’s quite interesting that almost a century (100 years) later, women lawmakers in Congress are again dressed in white, publicly voicing their interests, showing their influence and still fighting for equal rights.