Post-Election Roundup


While we don’t know how many there will be once all the votes are tallied and the next Congress is sworn in, with Democrat Alma Adams’s victory a special election for representative of North Carolina’s 12th District, there are now 100 women in Congress for the first time ever. (Of course, another way of saying that is that it is 2014 and women make up less than 20 percent of Congress.) 

Colorado and North Dakota both rejected personhood initiatives, while Tennessee voters unfortunately narrowly approved an amendment that declares that the state constitution does not guarantee the right to an abortion. (Colorado voters must be tired if having to say–three times now–that they really, truly don’t believe fertilized eggs are people.) As Robin Marty notes, all three results show that, despite the GOP gains this election, they have no mandate to restrict reproductive rights. “When put up to the voters in the form of ballot initiatives, extreme abortion restrictions are consistently rejected, and even more moderate ones struggle to pass.”

Voters in five states–Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Illinois–supported measures to raise their minimum wages. With the addition of these typically conservative states, 14 states have increased their minimum wages this year and 26 states and the District of Columbia now have higher minimum wages than the measly federal minimum of $7.25. Sounds like it might be time for Congress to catch up and ensure that these workers, who are disproportionately women of color, have a living wage nationwide.

Voters in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. all voted to legalize recreational marijuana. Meanwhile, California approved a measure to reduce minor non-violent crimes, like drug offenses and theft, from felonies to misdemeanors, allowing some 10,000 folks in prison to be eligible for re-sentencing. As ThinkProgress notes, these ballot initiatives and others are stricking a blow to the criminal injustice system: “Voters sent a signal that they are ready to reform a system that has sent more people in the United States to jail than in any other country in the world.”

The momentum for paid sick leave with initiatives passing in Massachusetts and a few cities. The ability to take time off work to care for yourself or your family is a luxury many low-income women don’t have, but the movement for paid sick days is gaining steam. It got a major boost when NYC extended paid sick leave to 1.2 million workers this spring, and there are now three states and 16 cities that have laws mandating paid sick days, up from just one state and six cities last year.

Feminist hero Wendy Davis sadly lost her hard-fought race against Greg Abbott for the Texas governorship. She gave a helluva concession speech though.

And, of course, last but certainly not least, the terrible news is that Republicans now control pretty much everything, but I’ll leave the dire predictions about what that means to everyone else.

Maya DusenberyMaya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

Read more about Maya

Join the Conversation