On Tuesday night, many Democratic congresswomen attended President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address clad in white in an homage to the women of the suffragette movement. At the point in the speech when Trump mentioned the growing number of women in the workforce, the congresswomen stood up to cheer and clap, much to his apparent surprise.
During the speech, Trump said that women “have filled 58 percent of the newly created jobs last year.” At first, Republicans in attendance stood to clap and the crowd remained fairly subdued, but soon after, the Democratic women in the audience unexpectedly stood up to join them in jubilant celebration of all women have accomplished.
The moment was a stark contrast to the rest of the speech, in which Trump spouted hateful rhetoric that the congresswomen had to sit through. As they cheered, however, Trump responded with a smirk, “You weren’t supposed to do that” … and then proceeded to thank them. He continued, “All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before,” and was met with more cheers. The president then added, “Don’t sit yet, you’re going to like this.”
“Exactly one century after Congress passed the Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in Congress than at any time before,” he then said. The congresswomen clapped for and even hugged each other, celebrating the fact that surges of women have been inspired to run for office in the wake of Trump’s election.
Then, in response to his comment about women in Congress, people in the chamber, Democrats and Republicans alike, started chanting, “USA!” The moment could potentially be read as some members attempting to reclaim a chant that has become synonymous with MAGA rallies and Trump’s demand for a border wall. But it was hard to ignore the fact that many of those chanting have actually voted against the interests of women — and are continuing to do so.