For some, the results of the Presidential Election were shocking, disheartening, and unbelievable. However, almost 4 million individuals have found a place where they can not only express their fears, but also come together to share stories of hope and triumph. This place is a Facebook group, known by the name Pantsuit Nation.
It’s almost unheard of to hear of a mere Facebook group having almost 4 million members. However, after reading just a few of the stories posted in the group, you can tell that these people are not just members of some Facebook group- they have become a family. Many have found not only courage, but also education from the group. Member Leslie Gardner said, “I’ve learned more about politics in two weeks than in my lifetime . . . All after joining [Pantsuit Nation] when it was about 4,000 members strong.”
With the rise of racism and hate crimes since Election Day, many people have begun to feel scared and alone. For the most part, however, the group has acted as the light at the end of the tunnel. Jennifer Jones-Wood reflects, saying, “I see that even though it feels like it here, in a red state, that I am not alone, that others are hurting too, and that we are somehow this gigantic family…” Other members frequently mention thoughts of the same in their stories. Another woman in the group posted comparing the members to being like geese flying in formation- when the leaders become tired, the ones in the back come to the front, but they never stop moving forward.
The members share stories of their fear, but often end with how they overcame fear with strength. A Muslim woman by the name of Hanadi Chehabeddine shared how while getting a haircut, the hairdresser next to her and her client began to speak awful things about Muslims. However, instead of reacting with anger, she wrote them both a letter asking them to widen their knowledge on her faith. Chehabeddine then provided her name and phone number, and told her to contact her if they were interested in meeting up and speaking with her. Leslie Gardner tells about her new-found strength, saying, “[Pantsuit Nation] gave me the ability to encourage my younger sister to stand up for what she believed all along, but was not able to express anywhere but [Pantsuit Nation].”
These stories have also inspired some to find strength by defending others. Multiple posts include instances of members combatting racism, sexism, and bullying by standing up for those who may not have a voice. Julie Richards explains the impact the group has had on her, saying, “This election really was a wake up call to me . . . I knew I had privilege as a white woman that others don’t have, but I never did anything about it. Reading everyone’s stories has me realize it’s not enough to ‘know’, I have to act.”
Pantsuit Nation is not only a family and a safe space, but it has also become a rallying place for activists. Between the millions of members, they share news on developments with Trump’s transition, and also news on protests and how to fight back. Although the group is secret (meaning one can only be added by another member), Pantsuit Nation has shown that [they] have a message to those inside the group and out: They are still here, they aren’t going away, and they will be heard.