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

 
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  • Eloise

    Weary of white women and their issues; race will always trump gender and I’ve never allowed my energy and time to be co-opted by these clueless dames. Racism has plagued Black women eternally and white women have not supported us because they’ve no clue about our lives; I find most of them a waste of time. Their time would be better spent driving the devil out of white men so that the planet can survive; they’re white and the training and taming of white men should be the beginning of their liberation from sexism and the glass ceiling.

  • Lisa Weeks

    I
    was added to the group Libby Chamberlain started very early on. It was
    called National Pantsuit Day November 8th. I made a group name called
    Pantsuit Nation on the http://www.hillaryclinton.com to Get Out the Vote. I
    had a message chat with Libby and offered to do an “event” on her
    Facebook page. She blew me off. I then started a political organization
    page called Pantsuit Nation on November 2nd. Following is our chat:
    Hi
    Libby! I just made a post about the boycott of ALL Ivanka and Donald
    Trump merchandise in stores such as Nordstroms, Macy’s, etc. Hope that
    is ok? We can REALLY make a difference with our wallets as well! #GrabYourWallet
    They accepted your request.
    Nov 2nd, 4:33pm
    Hi Libby – I made a post to GOTV for Hillary and it was DENIED? Is there a reason for this???
    We’re seeing thousands
    The best way to increase visibility is to search for GOTV and bump
    The more posts there are, the harder to see each one
    OK – I just did the search. Mine wasn’t like that. It was a call to action and a challenge to make calls through the official hillaryclinton.com website. I challenge 5 people to make 5 calls and they challenge 5 people and so on.
    These are just personal stories – they aren’t call to action.
    Would
    you be interested in creating a document I can upload as a PDF that
    gives some information about canvassing, phone banking, and other GOTV
    efforts for the final week?
    Since we are seeing so many
    similar posts, it would be great to have a central place to point
    people. More people will see it I post, and I’ll also keep it in the
    “files” tab on the group page
    I would rather just do
    this as an event – put the link there and the info. I added this photo
    that I changed my profile pic to and thougpic. It would be fantastic to
    see this flood Facebook as a “silent” movement!!!
    I believe that is happening already
    on this page?
    I don’t see anything remotely like what I am presenting
    If
    you’d rather not, I’ll take it to another group. But I’ve been here
    since it was quite small and thought I’d start here first.
    Do you understand what I am proposing?
    AWESOME! ty so much! Hope we get some good participation!!
    Nov 3rd, 5:50pm
    Hey Lisa! Are you behind the Pantsuit Nation Facebook page? Noticed the same rockin high heel image!
    Yes
    Great!
    We’re moving toward that as a possible call to action and hashtag for the social media push we hope to do in the next five days.
    I see it was created today and doesn’t have any content yet.
    Any interest in donating the page to the group for wider exposure?
    It would be the public face of the secret group.
    Obviously
    it’s yours and you can use it how you want, but I think we’re on the
    verge of some pretty big engagement with the pubic.
    We’re working on a social media blitz, focused on getting out the vote
    You realize this is EXACTLY what I was trying to talk to you about yesterday, correct? And was all but blown off?????
    I’m
    sorry for the misunderstanding. I have hundreds of people messaging me
    about why their posts haven’t been approved. I was trying to understand
    where you were coming from.
    We have created an admin post that we are trying to push with a call team in place.
    about phone banking
    I
    realize you have many members. I would like to point out that I joined
    this group when YOU were the only admin. Additionally, you and I were
    talking about this yesterday..and then VOILA!
    and I was ignored.
    and getting my posts censored????????????
    Seriously?????
    OK good luck with everything you’re trying to accomplish, Lisa. I think we’re on the same team.
    you as well. And I would have been a GREAT asset to your movement.
    Nov 3rd, 7:24pm
    Accept my friend request please and I’ll transfer the page over to you.
    I would love to stay on as admin though – just providing motivation and information and only as relating to the phone bank.
    I don’t want any power – just sort of like a “glorified cheerleader”
    ok – good luck!
    Thanks for the offer, Lisa! I really appreciate it! Considering a few different options and will get back to you!
    Yes I saw.
    HA! So glad to know you follow the principles of the movement.
    Are
    you going to tell everyone who “congratulates” you on the new name that
    you stole it? AND my idea? This is REALLY sad. I offer you help and you
    steal my ideas.
    Good thing about FB messages! They never go away!!
    Merrie Valliant was the first person that called it Pantsuit Nation
    My first use of that was on 10/25. I’m not sure why you’re upset with me Lisa, but I do honestly think we want the same things.
    I wish you well.
    It’s your conscience Libby.
    Chat Conversation End