Tech 100: Are Black Women Too Critical of Pantsuit Nation?

Once a hub for progressive women, now the Facebook group has turned into mostly postings of daily good deeds—and some sisters don't like it

Pantsuit Nation
Image: Facebook.com/Pantsuit Nation

If you are a regular Facebook-er, you are probably aware of the Facebook group that was formed just before the presidential election—it’s called Pantsuit Nation.

Libby Chamberlain founded the group in October of this year. The New York Times reports from an interview with Chamberlain, “She had formed the Facebook group to create a space to celebrate the historic possibility of the first female president. The response, she said, reflected a need for positivity during a cynical, often dispiriting, campaign.”

In just over two months, the group has almost 4 million members. Even more impressive; it’s a secret, closed group—another member has to add you.

I’ve been with the group pretty much since its inception, and I’ve witnessed changes in the group’s dynamics since then. In fact, a few of my black women friends and I—all members of Pantsuit Nation— had a spirited conversation about the group’s evolution.

The group started out as a virtual meeting place for Hillary Clinton fans. Unsurprisingly, members were pumped about electing the first woman POTUS. Posts focused on Clinton and many of the political and social issues important to group members.

Then, Clinton lost. There was an outpouring of grief and even shock over Trump’s electoral college-fueled win.

Recently, the group’s postings have taken another turn. One of my Facebook friends summed up the change rather well:

“I’ve had a back and forth with the [Pantsuit Nation] leadership about the damn safety pin, the ‘look at me and what I did’ attitude of the members, and the ‘OMG! My family/in-laws are racist stories.'”

Another Facebook acquaintance chimed in, saying she felt the group now “focuses too much on feelings, individual acts of kindness, ‘colorblind’ ideas, and centering on a certain kind of woman.

They are right. The group dynamics have changed. What once was more of a political group has turned into mostly postings about random acts of kindness and deeds to offset racism, homophobia, and other ugliness group members witness on a daily basis.

I get my friends’ points. But, I also wonder if Pantsuit Nation’s critics, especially us black women, are being a little too critical of the group? The horror of a Trump presidency is very real for many of us, even to the many white females who did not support him and had their hearts set on Clinton.

Clinton’s loss may be the first real gut-wrenching disappointment many liberal and politically active white women, especially young ones, ever experienced.

Disappointment is a flavor so familiar to black women. For us, that’s often the expected outcome, so we brace ourselves firmly, keep our contingency plans at close hand, and eventually, bounce back.

Now more than ever, people need to congregate, even virtually. I think the shock of President Trump is still so raw that the current trend right now in Pantsuit Nation is talking about the little, good deeds one can perform for another human in a day.

Besides, who can really hate on those sharing testimony such as this?

“My husband took it upon himself to face-off against the racist lunatic.

I am an American living in the Middle East. I am the director of an international organization that supports refugee families. I spend my days organizing reproductive healthcare and nutrition support to women and children in refugee camps.

Living in Mississippi as a gay couple isn’t easy. We have the support of both of our families, but we’re still scared to hold hands in public.”

And the group is already starting to shake off the shock. The most recent posts, in a similar vein to this writing, are calls-to-action to help the homeless, with a number of strategies and suggestions.

Yes, Progressives, Democrats, and Independents, desperately need to mobilize and do a thorough autopsy on what went so wrong this election. But for now, I think it’s OK to wallow a bit on good thoughts, kind acts, and sharing emotions. I remain a faithful Pantsuit National.

 


The Tech 100 is a column that looks at race, religion, sex, politics, and business, in terms of technology, because they are all connected, somehow. Follow @samaralynn