Being separated from the East Coast of America by a 5 hour time difference, I went to bed at 1AM last night not knowing who had won or even a small inkling of which way the United States elections were swinging. ITV1 here in the UK was reporting Romney having 33 Electoral votes to Obama's 3, which made it hard to fall asleep - it's no secret that I'm an Obama supporter and was worried about the results of this election. Happily, though, I received a text from a friend at 4:21AM informing me that the election had been called and Barack Obama would be my president for the next four years. "OH THANK GOD!" I wrote back, rolled over, and fell asleep. This election by and large was about women. Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, had presented some very off-putting and downright scary views about women and our rights - not only dealing with the reproductive right of abortion, but support for personhood amendments that would outlaw basic birth control (birth control I need to function), and objections to acts specifically aimed at supporting survivors of domestic violence and redefinitions of rape.
But, this morning, as I researched election results across the country, I realized that women made the difference. We got out and voted, and we supported, in much of the US, the rights not only of white, middle-class women, but of people of diverse identities and sexual orientations.
In my state, Illinois, we elected Tammy Duckworth to replace Joe "YOU LIE" Walsh. Duckworth is a disabled veteran who is biracial. She is a tireless advocate for women and for progressive causes, and I couldn't be happier to see her representing my neighboring district in Congress.
In Hawaii, Mazie Hirono became the first Asian-American woman in the US Senate.
In Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay senator.
In Texas (!!!), Mary Gonzalez became the first openly pansexual (attracted to all genders on the spectrum) senator.
In Massachusetts, progressive darling Elizabeth Warren replaced Scott Brown.
While there are only 19 women in the Senate, this is a record number.
And those rape-defending GOP'ers Mourdock and Akin? Both lost their seats. Akin lost his to a woman - a woman he compared to a dog.
There is still a lot of progress to make where women are concerned - it is on the state level that much of our fight will continue, especially if 2010-2011 is any indication. The fight for equality is far from over, but we can take a moment to be happy about what we accomplished last night. Pat yourselves on the back, ladies. You deserve it.