Cal State Fullerton hosts ‘A Women’s Place in Politics’ panel to address 2016 elections

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two women sit at panel in front of a slideshow screen
(Jennifer Garcia / Daily Titan)

Students, faculty and staff gathered at the WoMen’s and Adult Reentry Center in University Hall on March 8 to hear three Cal State Fullerton professors talk about the presence of women in the 2016 election and the movements that came from it.

Alissa R. Ackerman, assistant professor of criminal justice, Shelly Arsneault and Pamela Fiber-Ostrow, professors of political science, sat on a panel to emphasize the need for unity in U.S. politics.

Ackerman kicked off the panel with examples of how the media framed Hillary Clinton with  “constant jabs at her age” and the ways in which President Donald Trump, “trumped up” her mental fragility.

Citing a Washington Post poll, Ackerman said that Clinton was the most trusted candidate on terrorism, with a strong stance that defied feminine stereotypes.

Arsneault brought up movements like Pantsuit Nation and the Women’s March as examples of the visibility of women engaging in politics.

Pantsuit Nation was created by Libby Chamberlain as a private Facebook group where she invited friends to wear pantsuits to the polls on Election Day in 2016. The organization focused on forming an equal democracy and giving a voice to marginalized people.

Teresa Shook, Pantsuit Nation member, started the Women’s March movement on Facebook, following the 2016 election. An estimated 1.3 percent of the U.S. population attended women’s marches across the nation in 2017, according to the Washington Post.

Fiber-Ostrow indicated that the absence of women in politics is due to the reluctance of women taking chances and a lack of encouragement.

She used Mallory Hagan, 2013 Miss America pageant winner who is running for a congressional seat in Alabama, as an example of change. Fiber-Ostrow said Hagan is a woman taking steps toward gaining a seat in an area that needs more female representation.

Fiber-Ostrow pointed out that the last time there was a massive surge of women in politics was in 1992, and was labeled “The Year of the Woman.”

She went on to acknowledge that the rape culture of 1992 was recognized with the backlash against the treatment of Anita Hill.

Hill brought sexual harassment into the forefront in 1991 when she testified against Clarence Thomas, a Supreme Court judge, who had sexually harassed her.

“We have to do better now than we did then,” Fiber-Ostrow said.

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