Democratic Women Wore White to The State of The union Address for This Reason

By: Alex Trent | Published: Mar 15, 2024

The State of the Union Address, especially during an election year, draws millions of American eyeballs. With that in mind, lawmakers and politicians in attendance often wear different colors or outfits to send a message to the American public, who they know is watching.

This year, several lawmakers were seen wearing all white. This color is meant to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote and show unity around women’s reproductive issues under threat in America.

Democratic Women’s Caucus

The Democratic Women’s Caucus (DWC) is a group of 94 Democrat house members who advocate for women’s rights.

Advertisement
A hearing the DWC conducted in 2020 around breaking the silence for oppressed women.

Source: Judy Chu/Wikimedia

As part of the State of the Union address, this group wore white to fight for reproductive freedom for women, which they view as essential healthcare that is being threatened. The DWC is chaired by Florida representative Lois Frankel.

Advertisement

The Message

On the DWC’s website, the mission statement outlines the causes that they are collectively advocating for.

Advertisement
Protestors holding signs during a Women’s march.

Source: Giacomo Ferroni/Unsplash

“The DWC is dedicated to the advancement of full equal rights, economic opportunity, improved health and safety, and elimination of laws and policies with discriminatory or disparate impacts for women and girls, and works to achieve these goals through legislation, advocacy, and educational efforts.”

Representative Robin Kelley

Just before the State of the Union Address started, a photo was taken of the participating DWC members.

Advertisement
Robin Kelly tweets out the photo of the DWC members wearing white.

Source: Robin Kelly/X

In an X post, representative Robin Kelley said, “I’ve joined my @DemWomenCaucus colleagues in all white to symbolize our joint commitment to women’s rights. We will never stop advocating for women, from reproductive rights to workplace equality.”

State of the Union Address

The State of the Union address is an opportunity for the president to amplify issues that are on his mind as Americans are paying attention.

Advertisement
A closeup shot at Joe Biden’s hands as he holds a pen.

Source: The White House/Wikimedia

During the speech, Biden discussed the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the issue of abortion, and his disagreements with Republicans. He also mentioned his commitment to protecting women’s reproductive rights.

The Power of Women

Biden called out Republicans for celebrating the overturning of the Roe V. Wade decision in the Supreme Court. “Those bragging about overturning Roe v. Wade have no clue about the power of women,” Biden said.

Joe Biden speaks into a microphone at a rally.

Source: Michael Stokes/Wikimedia

He placed the blame on his predecessor Donald Trump, saying, “He’s the reason Roe was overturned, and he bragged about it.”

Advertisement

Promise to Restore Reproductive Rights

In his speech, Biden promised to help remedy the 2022 Supreme Court decision that throw abortion rights into jeopardy in the country. This issue is likely going to be a significant factor in the voters’ decision to support or reject him at the polls.

The front view of the United States Supreme Court.

Source: Claire Anderson/Unsplash

“If Americans send me a Congress that supports the right to choose, I promise you: I will restore Roe v. Wade as the law of the land again,” Biden said.

Advertisement

History of Wearing White

While it’s clear why women were wearing white at the State of the Union, one may wonder where this trend comes from in the first place.

Two suffragettes wearing white

Source: Harris & Ewing/Wikimedia

The origins of wearing white for women’s political protests can be traced back to the suffragettes in the late 1800s and early 1900s, where it symbolized the purity of the protestor’s conviction.

Advertisement

Affordability and Presentability

One of the reasons white was adopted as a color for the movement is that white-colored fabric was very affordable.

A suffragette from the early 1900s wears all white while standing next to a protest sign.

Source: Harris & Ewing/Wikimedia

This meant people of all social and financial backgrounds could participate in demonstrations. An all-white outfit is also a striking image that is seen as presentable and professional by society.

Advertisement

Trump’s Addresses

After Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016, Democratic women began a tradition of wearing white to his State of the Union addresses.

Donald Trump does a dance on stage.

Source: Liam Enia/Wikimedia

Representative Nydia Velázquez, during the 2020 State of the Union speech, said, “This is a sign of women empowerment and unity. It is important for everyone, including the president, to understand that we play an important role here in the Congress and elsewhere.”

Advertisement

Kamala Harris and White

When Kamala Harris ascended to her role as vice president elect, she chose to wear white during her first speech. She wore an all-white pantsuit as a symbolic gesture that spoke to her willingness to fight for women and acknowledge those who came before her.

Kamala Harris arrives at the United States Capitol.

Source: Office of Vice President of the United States/Wikimedia

“I stand on their shoulders,” Harris said during her speech, alluding to the women who fought for voting rights in earlier generations.

Advertisement

The Future of Reproductive Rights

The DWC wearing white keeps the issue of reproductive rights in people’s minds as they look onward and into the future.

Protestors hold up signs in support of abortion

Source: Gayatri Malhotra/Unsplash

The overturning of Roe v. Wade has put greater pressure on Democrats to enshrine protections for abortion into law as states in America are working on their own to decide to either allow or make abortion illegal.

Advertisement