Choo, whose work centers on the intersection of race and gender discrimination, says that the criticism of white feminism in elections is warranted. “When it comes to movements for women, we’ll often see the nod to diversity often happens with a token white woman, and that token white woman generally doesn’t change things fundamentally,” she says. But she rejects the notion that Warren let the historic nature of her campaign stand in for more progressive ideals. “I thought she had such a thoughtful agenda when it came to incorporating issues of racial justice across her platform, and really was one of the campaigns that really listened to a wide variety of people when it came to informing her agenda.” Choo says, with a sigh. “You can’t help but feel a punch in the gut.”
The language that many Warren fans—or women disappointed that the presidential race will boil down to two men—use often borrows from the lexicon of physical pain—”punch in the gut,” “hurt,” “weeping,” even “trauma.”
After Katzen tweeted that she “sobbed” on the way home from voting for Warren, she says she was flooded with messages from like-minded women, and also from MAGA fans “making fun of me and mocking my appearance and telling me I’m mentally ill and should take [psychiatric] drugs.” (Katzen says she saw “very little evidence” that the harassment was coming from Sanders supporters, despite the “Bernie Bro” reputation.) She was troubled, she says, by the idea that expressing emotion over a candidate—and over sexism—is dismissed as having a mental illness.
Williams, who noted the number of white women who cast their votes for Trump despite dozens of documented sexist comments and sexual assault allegations, reasoned that after 2016, “We really need to spend the next four years discussing sexism and misogyny if the next election’s female candidates have any chance of being taken seriously.” Male allies, she thought, should lead the charge. But four years passed. “That just didn’t happen,” she says.
At 6:30 p.m. in Florida, the night before Warren suspended her campaign, Williams was still in the volunteer office. Acknowledging that Warren would probably soon drop out, she said, she believes this can be “an opportunity, another moment to have a discussion about sexism in America.”
“I don’t have the luxury to stay in doom and gloom,” Williams said. “I have to keep persisting.”
Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter.