Ever since the 1700s, most political offices in the United States have been held by men at both the state and federal levels.
However, all across America today, Americans are seeing a surge of women running for political offices.
Just recently, actress Cynthia Nixon announced she is running for New York governor.
According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University website, approximately 708 women have filed to run in 2018, for U.S. Congress or in statewide elections.
“In 2018, 105 women hold seats in the United States Congress, comprising 19.6 percent of the 535 members,” the website states. “Twenty-two women serve in the United States Senate, and 83 women serve in the United States House of Representatives.”
The idea of women in politics is not new. In 1866, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, of New York, an Independent, ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, even though she was not allowed to vote.
In 1916, Jeannette Rankin, of Montana, a Republican, was elected to Congress and served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1917 to 1919 and again in 1941 and 1942.
According to a recent Erin Burnett OutFront segment on CNN titled “Women Seize Their Past Abuse to Fuel Political Ambition,” by Kyung Lah and Alberto Moya, the surge of women entering politics for the first time is due in part to them being victims of sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement.
On the show, Lah and Moya spoke with four women, who shared their stories of abuse and how the #MeToo movement empowered them to run for political office, either at the state or federal level.
The #MeToo movement, founded in 2006 by Tarana Burke, was to help survivors of sexual violence, especially women of color, find healing.
However, the movement spread virally after actress Alyssa Milano shared a tweet on social media encouraging women who had been sexually harassed to use #MeToo following the alleged Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment incidents in Hollywood.
This is not the first time Americans have seen a woman who was a victim of sexual harassment play a major part in politics.
In 1991, at the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, Anita Hill, a former employee of Thomas’, accused him of sexual harassment during her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
What is fueling this increase in women running for political office? Is it the uproar from the Weinstein accusations, or are more women really interested in holding political office?
Will Americans see a change in the way government operates if more women are elected to office?
And, what does this surge in women running for political office mean for future generations in America?
I believe there are two reasons fueling this uptick in women running for political office.
The first is the Weinstein issue. The second is women want to use their voices to change the way they are treated by some men in this country.
If more women are elected to office, there is a good chance Americans will see more laws protecting women’s rights.
This escalation in women running for political office could even mean that some day there will be a woman elected president of the United States.