For the second year in a row, a number of Democratic congresswomen decided to wear white while attending the State of the Union address. The choice of outfit was intended for the celebration of the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote after its 1920 ratification.
The outfit choice was organized by the Democratic Women’s Caucus, with the aim of sending “a strong, unified message of persistence in fighting for the people.”
According to Suzanne Leonard, a Simmons College professor and director of the graduate program in gender and cultural studies, the powerful image presented by the 90 members of the DWC was their opportunity to “present their dissent without words.”
Last year, Democratic Congresswomen also wore white. Rep. Brenda Lawrence stated that it was “in solidarity with the women of the suffrage movement who refused to take no for an answer,” adding, “To an administration that has closed its eyes to women, we will be seen.”
In 2017, they also wore white at the president’s address to a joint session of Congress. Florida representative Lois Frankel stated that this was done “to unite against any attempts by the Trump administration to roll back the incredible progress women have made in the last century.”
Other lawmakers had green “ERA Yes!” pins to show their support for the passing of the Equal Rights Ammendment.
However, Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar were more direct with their choice of outfits, especially since President Trump has repeatedly used white-nationalist, xenophobic rhetoric against them, going as far as to tell them to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
Tlaib wore a white thobe, and Omar tweeted, “Our presence is resistance. I am wearing my Ayeeyo’s Cambuur garbeed and bringing the Arawelo spirit to the people’s house.”
Democratic Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley opted to boycott the event.