After the Kavanaugh Hearings, Women Were Pissed. So They’re Taking Action in Record Numbers.

October 3, 2018

Elle: After the Kavanaugh Hearings, Women Were Pissed. So They're Taking Action in Record Numbers.

By Madison Feller

On the morning of Thursday, Sept. 27th, women woke up anxious. It was the day of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, where millions across the country would tune in to watch Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and one of the women who accused him of sexual assault, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, answer question upon question about the allegations. It was, as many predicted it to be, a showcase for men to be angry and women to be disbelieved. By end of day Friday, after the committee voted to move Kavanaugh's nomination forward, women had moved onto another emotion. They were angry.

But as often happens, and has been demonstrated over and over since President Donald Trump took office, women took that emotion and put it into action. On Friday evening, Amanda Litman, the co-founder and executive director of Run For Something, tweeted that the organization had seen 20 times the usual number of people sign up to volunteer:

Run For Something recruits and supports young, diverse progressives running for local offices, and Litman helped start the organization on inauguration day, fresh off her role on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. She told that their team started to notice on Friday morning that people were coming to Run For Something, looking to participate.

Over the 72 hours between Thursday night and Sunday evening, Run For Something had four times the normal number of candidate sign ups and three times the usual number of contributions.

“People were angry, and they were frustrated,” Litman said. “I think they were watching the hearings and seeing a woman be completely disrespected, dismissed from a whole bunch of white dudes, and they were like, 'I’m over this.'”

And it wasn't just Litman. EMILY's List, an organization that focuses on getting pro-choice Democratic women elected to office, saw a similar effect. On Friday, the day after the hearing, EMILY's List broke a record for digital fundraising in a single day. Christina Reynolds, vice president of communication at EMILY's List, told “Women were already motivated to get out and take action, but the Kavanaugh hearings were more fuel on an already-raging fire. Many of our campaigns saw the largest crowds ever at canvass kickoffs or volunteer events. We continue to see a daily increase in women reaching out to us about running for office, with a dramatic spike after the Kavanaugh hearings. Women are angry, and they're fighting back.”

Litman thinks that in the same way the Anita Hill hearings led to the Year of the Woman, there might be a similar effect in 2020, where a wave of women run because they saw what Dr. Ford did and how she was treated.

Run For Something has seen other spikes over the past two years, during the Muslim ban protests and the Parkland shooting, but the Kavanaugh hearing had a particular timing to it: the midterms. “I think part of it was the timing because it's so close to the election,” Litman said. “People are like, 'What can I do to make a difference right now?'”

“It’s why we build organizations like this. I think the reality is when the shit hits the fan, it matters that there’s a way to channel people’s enthusiasm and channel it effectively.”