Photo from MainePublic.org
By Vinny Ball
With over 3.7 million members and Facebook users being added every second, Pantsuit Nation has shown no signs of slowing down despite the election’s outcome.
The initial intention of Pantsuit Nation, the invite-only group on Facebook, was to celebrate the election of Hillary Clinton as President of the United States, but that moment wouldn’t come to fruition. Instead, whether it wanted to or not, Pantsuit Nation began looking beyond the political and become a place where acceptance for all is the norm.
“Since the election, the sentiments initially focused on grieving,” Karen Miller, a member of Pantsuit Nation said, “Now they are focused on efforts towards social change and justice.”
With Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump, members of Pantsuit Nation began to see the group as a rare judgment free zone on social media, where those willing could share their stories without persecution. Clinton herself even acknowledged the group in her concession speech, urging members of “private Facebook” groups to “come out from behind that and make sure your voices are heard going forward.”
Brenda Peters, also a member of Pantsuit Nation, credits the group for giving her the strength to do just that.
“I have gone from a person who posts messages of peace,” Peters explained, to someone who considers themselves “an activist” who is “fighting for pure democracy.”
Members of the group are unafraid to share their own intimate stories regarding the ongoing fight for equality. Each approved post by Pantsuit Nation is a unique story featuring the personal tribulations of members of different race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation and gender. The honesty and detail that is typical of these posts allows for a real sense of community and acceptance on behalf of other members.
The page has featured posts from gay biracial couples, members of the transgender community, and women attempting to break through the glass ceiling. Within the confines of the group, it is not uncommon for an individual’s story to be met with an outpouring of support from members who seek to do their part by championing others.
“There are many people who are telling their stories for the very first time,” Karen Miller, a member of Pantsuit Nation said, “My job, as I have seen it, has been to be a witness to them. To hold them up. To pray for them. To honor them. To support them.”
In a recent post from November 17th, the group’s administrator, Libby Chamberlin, writes that Pantsuit Nation is doing their best to “grapple with a very challenging system for reviewing posts,” as they continue to be inundated with provocative stories that generate awareness surrounding the struggle for equality.
In the same post, Chamberlin looked towards the future and expressed hopes to “advocate for the very voices and stories that we have all come to recognize and cherish within the group.”