That explains a lingering intensity that has taken many of these women by surprise.
“I had no idea that these hearings would affect me so deeply,” wrote Keirsten Hamilton, an attorney who said she was raised in a fairly conservative Christian home in small-town Texas, votes Republican in some local races but more often for Democrats. “It does feel, in many ways, like meaningful change is out of reach. But I’ve never felt so enraged in my life. I refuse to let men keep telling this narrative that I know is wrong.”
[Here’s a guide to everything you need to know about the November elections.]
As with both sides in this intensely partisan moment, Sarah Orlando of Houston evoked an apocalyptic future: “This is the worst thing that’s happened to women in my lifetime, I fear the worst is far from yet to come. I’m not just worried for women though. I’m worried for every marginalized community in America. When my son asked if everything was going to be O.K., I answered with my filter temporarily disengaged, ‘Just be glad you’re not a woman, honey.’”
Some women reproached themselves as well as men in power, turning anger inward for somehow failing to do enough. “Honestly this makes me realize how inactive I have been,” wrote Raphaela Weissman of Seattle, who said she was voluble on social media but had not taken direct action. “I did not call any senators before this vote, so in a way this is my fault, too.”
Allison Butz of Texas offered a vivid glimpse into modern-day juggling many women must navigate. She wrote that she had always voted, protested, written letters and volunteered for campaigns when she could. “But sweet Jesus, I’m the underpaid director of a severely underfunded community food pantry in a service area that has some of the highest rates of food insecurity in the entire nation. My husband and I own a print shop. I have two small children who are in school, in soccer, in other activities … and the birthday parties, constantly … and that doesn’t even touch on how I manage to keep the plates spinning in every other aspect of my life.”
“I can’t add another commitment beyond what I’m already doing, and I feel like I’m letting the entirety of society down as a result,” she continued. “Moral of the story? Right now is bad.”
Yet for many who responded, the prospect of more women in office remains alluring and hopeful.
Magaly Marques, who described herself as a manager, mother and immigrant, wrote: “To expect that all women will vote the same way is naïve. But when women are in at least equal numbers in the Senate and their committees, the conversations will be different, the questions asked will be different, the ability to hear and not deflect will be there, the bullying tactics will be in check.”