Disclosure: I worked on the president’s re-election campaign as a full-time, unpaid employee in the District of Columbia.
President Barack Obama has made history again by achieving a landslide victory against Republican challenger former Governor Mitt Romney. This win is particularly sweet for the president after months of tireless and often ugly campaigning and a reported $5.8 billion spent on both sides. While the President deserves happiness and a celebratory few days, the truth is that the real winners of this election are women.
When Romney revealed that he had chosen Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate, women nationwide cringed (if all women were like me they would have laughed maniacally in utter disbelief). Not just for Ryan’s radical economic ideas or archaic views on equality but in remembering that he co-sponsored legislation that would have redefined rape to being “forcible.”
That moment began the party’s outward expression of indifference towards issues of concern to women. Soon, it seemed like a Republican candidate for office was making an insensitive comment about rape every day. From Senate hopeful Representative Todd Akin’s (R-Mo.) assertion that in a “legitimate rape” the woman’s body dispatches ninjas to stop a pregnancy, to congressional candidate Richard Mourdock in Indiana who said that pregnancy from rape is something “God-intended” — women could not catch a break.
It came as no surprise that the gender gap in the election was wide with a whopping 55% of women supporting Obama to 44% going for Romney. But it was not white women who supported the president’s re-election. It was women of color who made the decision that President Obama deserves four more years and we spoke loud and clear.
Both Akin and Mourdock, who made the controversial rape comments in this election cycle, were defeated. Tammy Baldwin beat Tommy Thompson to become the first ever openly gay woman in the Senate. Indeed, this congressional session will hold 20 female senators – the most in United States history.
In Florida, a ballot measure that would have eliminated Florida’s constitutional protection of privacy with regard to women’s reproductive rights was defeated, in a huge victory for women. And the list goes on. It was a good night for women. President Obama stood in opposition to these attacks when they occurred and his very presence on the ballot led to down-ticket voting keeping these people and radical positions out of power.
Some people have caught to calling President Obama our “first gay president” because of his unprecedented support for gay rights. However, I believe the president deserves a different title. President Obama has appointed more women to the Supreme Court than any before him, including a Latina, chose Joe Biden who penned the original Violence Against Women Act in the 1990s as his Vice President, went to war with the GOP over women’s health care, passed health care reform which provides for free domestic violence screenings, no co-pay contraception, and eliminates rape as a pre-existing condition (not to mention standing up for law student Sandra Fluke after she was publicly attacked by conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh). And on top of that, he repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, became the first sitting president to support marriage equality, stopped defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court, and made it a federal crime to assault an individual based on gender identity.
President Obama is our first feminist president. He has made the most strident attempts towards equality and civil rights breakthroughs in the United States than any other recent president. He cannot be attributed to just one accomplishment, to having stood up for just one community. This is why the term “feminist” fits with Barack Obama so well. He and his administration have stood up for equal rights across the board – that is what feminism is about.