By: Rebecca Banes
The 2016 U.S. presidential election cycle lasted for well over a year. Women’s’ rights were at the forefront from the get go, with democrat Hilary Clinton running and becoming the first female major party nominee for President of the United States. In the weeks leading up to Election Day, the focus on women’s rights intensified. The issues at stake included abortion rights, women’s health care, equal pay, and even their right to vote.
On October 12, 2016 #Repealthe19th was trending on Twitter. The hashtag referenced the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote. The hashtag started in response to a tweet by FiveThiryEight’s Nate Silver. Silver tweeted electoral maps showing projected presidential election results based on two different scenarios: if only women could vote and if only men could vote. The maps showed that if only women could vote, Hillary Clinton would win the presidency, and if only men could vote, Republican candidate Donald Trump would win the presidency. Apparent Trump supporters, both male and female, then used the statistics to justify why women should lose their right to vote. For example, one Twitter user tweeted, “I would be willing to give up my right to vote to make this happen #repealthe19th.”
Once Twitter users became aware of the hashtag, it became trending. However, many tweets featuring the hashtag were not calling for women to lose their right to vote. Instead, many #Repealthe19th hashtags were expressing anger and frustration. Twitter users who opposed repealing the women’s right to vote turned the hashtag around and used it to support women’s suffrage, mock the apparent anti-feminists, and generally criticize the sentiment behind #Repealthe19th. One of the many such tweets included, “Is this 2016 or 1916? Women fought for and won the right to vote. You can’t do takesies-backsies. #repealthe19th.”
Based on the reality that the majority of tweets featuring #Repealthe19th were actually mocking that very idea, many people were quick to note that there should not be much concern that Americans actually want to take away the women’s right to vote. Some reports were also quick to point out that repealing the constitutional amendment is unpractical, especially before Election Day 2016. Despite these valid arguments, it is still significant that the topic of women’s right to vote was the subject of such heated discussions in a 21st century election cycle.
After a long battle, the women’s suffrage movement won women the right to vote in 1920. Women have also fought for and secured more freedoms and rights, including the right to own property, the right to have credit and bank accounts in their own name, the right to have access to birth control and health care, and the right to choose to have an abortion. All of these rights were secured in one way or another long before the 2016 election cycle, and yet one of the most pervasive themes of the election was women’s rights. Before the primary elections were over, the U.S. Congress was voting for at least the eighth time to defund Planned Parenthood. The Republican presidential candidate, and eventual President-elect was caught on tape describing sexual exploitations of women and has been accused of sexually harassing multiple women. The democratic nominee, meanwhile, was under fire for her husband’s past affairs and allegations of sexually harassment and abuse. The final presidential debate became heated over late term abortions, and Trump has promised to appoint Supreme Court nominees who will overturn Roe v. Wade.
It is curious whether the women who fought for their right to vote in the early 20th century could have foreseen women today facing the issues they do. Perhaps they could have, perhaps not. Either way, Election Day is not going to magically settle any of these issues. The long, drawn out 2016 election cycle has demonstrated that there is widespread disagreement over vital issues facing American women, and that the country has a long way to go when it comes to protecting and securing women’s rights.
 Paul Steinhauser, Is 2016 election starting earlier than 2012 did?, CNN (Apr. 11, 2014, 5:06 PM), http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/11/politics/2016-early-cycle/.
 Carrie Dann, Hillary Clinton Becomes First Female Nominee of Major U.S. Political Party, NBC News (July 27, 2016 , 3:04 AM), http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/2016-conventions/hillary-clinton-becomes-first-female-nominee-major-u-s-political-n617406.
 Alanna Vagianos, Trump Supporters Tweet #Repealthe19th After Poll Shows He’d Win if Only Men Voted, The Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-supporters-tweet-repealthe19th-after-poll-shows-hed-win-if-only-men-voted_us_57fea03ce4b05eff55814a75 (last updated Oct. 25, 2016).
 U.S. Const. amend. XIX.
 Seema Mehta, Trump backers tweet #Repealthe19th after polls show he’d win if only men voted, Los Angeles Times (Oct. 12, 2015, 12:15 PM), http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/trailguide/la-na-trailguide-updates-trump-backers-tweet-repealthe19th-1476299001-htmlstory.html.
 Nate Silver (@NateSilver538), Twitter (Oct. 11, 2016, 3:36 PM), https://twitter.com/NateSilver538/status/785972385836961792; Nate Silver (@NateSilver538), Twitter (Oct. 11, 2016, 3:37 PM), https://twitter.com/NateSilver538/status/785972580301742080.
 Mehta, supra note 5.
 CT Christian 4 Trump (@PrayHealourland), Twitter (Oct. 12, 2016, 11:44 AM), https://twitter.com/PrayHealourland/status/786276418271506432.
 Abby Ohlheiser, Yes, #Repealthe19th trended – but not for the reasons you think, The Washington Post (Oct. 13, 2016), https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2016/10/13/yes-repealthe19th-trended-but-not-for-the-reasons-you-think/.
 Hannah (@hannahprince), Twitter (Oct. 12, 2016, 2:12 PM), https://twitter.com/hannahnprince/status/786313619655000064.
 Abby Ohlheiser, Yes, #Repealthe19th trended – but not for the reasons you think, The Washington Post (Oct. 13, 2016), https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2016/10/13/yes-repealthe19th-trended-but-not-for-the-reasons-you-think/; see also Kim LaCapria, Donald Trump Supporters are Calling to #Repealthe19th?, snopes.com (Oct. 13, 2016), http://www.snopes.com/2016/10/13/donald-trump-supporters-repealthe19th/ (explaining that media outlets were using the hashtag as evidence that a movement to repeal the 19th movement had begun but that they found no evidence that was true).
 Kim LaCapria, Donald Trump Supporters are Calling to #Repealthe19th?, snopes.com (Oct. 13, 2016), http://www.snopes.com/2016/10/13/donald-trump-supporters-repealthe19th/.
 Timeline of Legal History of Women in the United States, National Women’s History Project, http://www.nwhp.org/resources/womens-rights-movement/detailed-timeline/ (last visited Nov. 2, 2016).
 Laura Bassett, Congress Votes Yet Again to Defund Planned Parenthood, The Huffington Post (Jan. 6, 2016), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/congress-votes-defund-planned-parenthood_us_568d5a67e4b0cad15e62fda6.
 David Fahrenthold, Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005, The Washington Post (Oct. 8, 2016), https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-recorded-having-extremely-lewd-conversation-about-women-in-2005/2016/10/07/3b9ce776-8cb4-11e6-bf8a-3d26847eeed4_story.html.
 Shawn Boburg, Enabler or family defender? How Hillary Clinton responded to husband’s accusers, The Washington Post (Sept. 28, 2016), https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/enabler-or-family-defender-how-hillary-clinton-responded-to-husbands-accusers/2016/09/28/58dad5d4-6fb1-11e6-8533-6b0b0ded0253_story.html.
 Dan Mangan, Trump: I’ll appoint Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe v. Wade abortion case, CNBC (Oct. 19, 2016), http://www.cnbc.com/2016/10/19/trump-ill-appoint-supreme-court-justices-to-overturn-roe-v-wade-abortion-case.html.