Why Is This Famed Feminist Facebook Group Shutting Down?
This is no time to put away the pantsuit.
On March 16, moderators of the famed Facebook group Pantsuit Nation announced that it’s shutting down after being active for over seven years. The group began in 2016, right before the November presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. At first, it was just a place for people to share their excitement for electing the first female president of the United States. Members shared pictures of what Clinton-inspired pantsuit they would wear to the polls on November 6.
In the better timeline, members would been able to use the group to spend the rest of November celebrating Clinton’s win. As everyone knows, we live in the worst timeline, and Clinton lost to Trump. Instead of shutting down after the failed election, Pantsuit Nation’s membership grew, and the group has been thriving ever since. Members went there to grieve together. Some felt Clinton’s loss personally, as they knew the pain of being a qualified candidate who lost to an under-qualified and disgusting person just because of gender.
Shortly after the election, the group shifted from one of sadness to one of anger and activism. The 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C., and the smaller marches around the world, came to life in Pantsuit Nation. Quickly, the group was no longer about Clinton, but about creating feminist leaders in all areas of our country. Campaigns to elect women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ folks in local elections sprung up. People shared guides on how to run for office or raise money for political campaigns. The group put a heavy emphasis on getting people to vote, with letter-writing campaigns and voter registration drives around the United States.
Pantsuit Nation expanded past the political. Members used the group to share deeply personal stories. Folks posted about their transition journeys, how scary it can be for a Black parent in a racist country, and how you don’t need a reason to get an abortion. It was a safe space to just be heard for people who may have had no other outlet. At its largest, the group boasted close to 4 million members worldwide. So why would the moderators want to close this group down?
Why are they closing Pantsuit Nation?
In 2019, Pantsuit Nation partnered with the progressive feminist organization Supermajority. The rebranded Pantsuit Nation x Supermajority would employ the previously unpaid volunteer moderators and keep the space a thriving center of activism. However, since the merger, activity on the group has slowly dwindled. Earlier this year, I checked to see if I was still a part of the group, as I hadn’t seen anything on my feed from the once-vibrant group in a while. Posts seemed to only get occasionally approved by moderators.
An announcement by moderator Taylor Salditch, on March 16, stated after March 18, the group would no longer be approving new posts or reactions. It would remain open only as a type of “time capsule” to review past posts. Several moderators, including creator Libby Chamberlain, posted their goodbyes and what the community has meant to them over the years.
But the reason behind the “pause” is still vague and seems like Supermajority just doesn’t want to use resources to support the Facebook group anymore. Salditch’s statement only said this in relation to why the group will no longer be active:
I wanted to share an important update with this community. Over the past several weeks and months we have taken stock of our work, particularly focusing on our success in 2022, and developed a strategic approach to best position Supermajority to build women’s political power into 2024 – focusing on engaging young women voters – both white women and women of color – in key states to increase turnout and win elections & policies that enable women and their families to thrive. We know that it will take a laser focus on our core work and are prioritizing our time, talent and resources to achieve that outcome.
Members of Pantsuit Nation are not happy with this turn of events. In a post-Roe v. Wade world, it seems like an unusual time to shut the group down. Saldtich’s post has over 1.3 thousand comments by members saying they’re upset and saddened. Many are asking for the group to be turned back over to volunteers. Other members have already started other groups to keep the spirit of the group alive. Just like most online spaces, the group wasn’t perfect, but most members and moderators did their best to keep the peace, foster inclusion, and point things toward positive activism.
As this is still a developing story, we will update you as more information appears.
Are you a part of Pantsuit Nation? How do you feel about the group no longer being active?
(featured image: Marta Shershen/Getty Images)
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]