The Next Generation

We were told we could be president, yet we never were seriously considered as contenders. We make up over half the population, yet we are still heavily underrepresented in politics, in boardrooms, in media and have little influence in public life.

Women’s lack of influence has left deafening silence in our country. And the silencing of women, all women, whether it be in a bar room conversation, a board meeting or in national politics, has created an underserved democracy.

During the 2016 Presidential Election some of us felt a glimmer of hope. Some of us felt a slap in the face that our option was limited to just one. After 44 elections, the first female was nominated as a presidential candidate for a major party. Regardless, Donald J. Trump, a man, was elected.

By the time Donald Trump was in office, I set out on a cross country journey with a team of reporters to understand why our country has become so divided. Along the way, I kept meeting young women who were living the issues that shaped the election and appeared to divide a nation — the significance of faith, the complexity of coal country’s grievances, racial tension, and immigration.

I saw an opportunity to use the photographs to challenge decades of inequality. I learned that womanhood is not easily defined. It is not a box that can be easily checked but is instead a nuanced existence where gender identity, sexuality, race, and class all play a crucial role. Our country is not “red or blue” but rather a patchwork of political persuasions and experiences. The majority of these young women exist in the purple.

I know women’s rights/women’s position in the United States are at a turning point. However, I’m unsure if I’ll see bona fide equality in my lifetime. I see hope from the women who brought down sexual predators in Hollywood and government, and the surge in interest from women who want to run for  office following the election. But, I see darkness when women are pitted against one another. By exploring the lives of up and coming creators, thinkers, and leaders, we are getting a free preview of our country’s future.

Maybe we can learn from it.