November 11, 2016
In the wake of a stinging defeat they didn’t see coming for Hillary Clinton, local women who see themselves as progressives are banding together through closed Facebook groups.
A national movement began just before the election with Pantsuit Nation – the group added nearly a million members in one day – but continues with the formation of local groups with a similar focus, such as South Jersey Women for Progressive Change.
Clinton, who appears to have won the popular vote but defeated handily in the projected Electoral College tally, acknowledged the role of such groups in her concession speech on Wednesday:
"And to the millions of volunteers, community leaders, activists and union organizers who knocked on doors, talked to neighbors, posted on Facebook, even in secret, private Facebook sites …
"… I want everybody coming out from behind that and make sure your voices are heard going forward."
The more than 600 women who in one day joined the South Jersey group, similar in intent to Pantsuit Nation, are a sign that those voices are going forward – in a closed group open only to women.
Amanda Cohen, a South Jersey hospital administrator trained as a social worker, began the group Wednesday by posting on a local Facebook community page in Collingswood:
“We've failed to shatter the glass ceiling, we're grieving, and we're left feeling marginalized.” – Amanda Cohen, founder of the South Jersey Women for Progress closed Facebook group
"I'm feeling grief-stricken and hopeless and am looking to connect in some way with neighbors dedicated to change."
The post, which now has 120 comments and counting, led her and five other co-administrators to form South Jersey Women for Progress on Facebook.
The group is staging a march in Collingswood at Haddon and Harvard avenues at 6:30 p.m. Friday. The route will run to Cuthbert Boulevard and back.
Membership in the group had grown to more than 1,000 members by late Thursday night.
The closed group – an administrator needs to approve you – voted to make it women only, which is not the case with Pantsuit Nation, a secret group that requires an invitation to join.
The parade, however, is open to men and children, said Cohen of South Jersey Women for Progress…
She explained why the group is all-female – or identifying as female.
“Women, in particular, have been diminished and disempowered by Trump during this election cycle. Now, we will come together to advocate for change. We need to lean on the support of each other now.
“We've failed to shatter the glass ceiling, we're grieving, and we're left feeling marginalized.”
She went on to explain how Trump had galvanized the group.
“He has made the most sexist, misogynistic comments of any nominee to run for president in recent memory. As women, we must band together to empower each other to fight discrimination and propel each other forward.”
Throughout the Philadelphia region, there are members of Pantsuit Nation who say they intend to stay active.
Ashleigh Brooks, who works at a dental office in Chester County, was invited to join Pantsuit Nation on Election Day.
She said she spent Wednesday “in total disbelief" and Thursday she began talking about “what do we do next?”
Brooks said she’d been raped a decade ago, and that has “triggered” much of her response to Trump.
A former media person who now holds a public position, and asked not to be identified, said Trump’s words aimed at women also galvanized her as a member of Pantsuit Nation.
She said she was twice assaulted sexually as a young woman.
And while she had kept that private, now she is “talking and talking loud.”
“I’m terrified, horrified, disappointed” at the things she has read posted online by Trump supporters, as well as swastika graffiti spray-painted in South Philadelphia using the Trump name.
“Hate’s been normalized,” she said, adding she worries most about a grandchild growing up in a Philadelphia suburb who will live with the consequences of at least one Trump Supreme Court nominee for decades to come.
She supports not having the groups wide open due to trolling, after two separate attacks on her own personal Facebook page.
Oakley Boycott, an actress in New York with friends in Philadelphia, joined Pantsuit Nation the day before the election.
On Wednesday she went to a Trump Tower protest, not as a participant, but as "a witness. I put it on my personal Facebook page."
Thursday, she posted it to Pantsuit Nation.