Many women across the United States saw a version of the level-headed and self-assured leader they hoped to be when they watched House Speaker Nancy Pelosi step forward to wrangle an unruly Congress over the years or stare down a bombastic president. Pelosi has served as the speaker of the House of Representatives since 2007. Pelosi was persistent, tactical, and aggressive in settings dominated by powerful men. All the while, they were maintaining a devoted role at home as a mother and grandma and feeling the urge to amplify her voice only infrequently.
“The image of her coming out in the red coat was always amusing to me because it just kind of personified how badass she is,” said Gina Lind, 61, of Phoenix, the marketing director for an airline. “The image of her coming out in the red coat was always amusing because it just kind of personified how badass she is.”
“It perfectly embodied the image of a woman exercising calm authority.” Many people have reposted the meme of Nancy Pelosi confidently striding out of the Trump White House in sunglasses and a long red coat after a tense meeting after she made the announcement this week that she would step down from her position as the leader of the Democratic Party after serving in that role for twenty years.
It was a moment that served as a reminder of how Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to become speaker of the House, changed outmoded assumptions regarding the role of women in the highest echelons of government. Fans of Pelosi, a Democrat from California, have been seen sticking the image to their refrigerators, downloading it as a screensaver, or having it printed on mugs of their favourite beverage.
They also enjoy the photographs of her confronting former President Donald Trump in the White House Cabinet Room or ripping up his final State of the Union speech. Both of these moments were captured on camera.
“When I look at that (Cabinet Room) picture, I think, ‘Okay, stand up and say what you have to say,'” said Kelly Haggerty, 49, an engineer for the city of Syracuse, New York, who works on construction projects and frequently finds herself, like Nancy Pelosi, squaring off in a room full of men. “When I look at that (Cabinet Room) picture, I think, ‘Okay, stand up and say what you, Haggerty, who referred to the photograph as motivational, said, “I mean, these guys across the table from me are hardly the president of the United States, but it’s not nice always to be the only woman in the room.”
“I did write it down and post it on my refrigerator because I have two daughters who are in their teen years, and I want them to be just like me.” She said, “I never want there to be a moment when they stand down.” Pelosi did not formally begin her career until she was in her late 40s after most of her five children had reached adulthood, which is similar to the experiences of many other women of her generation.
However, her father had a long history of involvement in politics, having served first as mayor of Baltimore and later as a member of Congress. And in her goodbye statement to the House leadership on Thursday from the floor of the House, Pelosi described being awestruck by the sight of the Capitol building when she was just six years old. Rep. Karen Bass, a fellow Democrat from California who will soon take over as mayor of Los Angeles, stated, “Make no mistake, though, she’s been in politics since the day she was born, whether she was running for office or not.” Bass is the upcoming mayor of Los Angeles.
According to her, Nancy Pelosi does not “become heavy-handed” about her authority but rather enjoys it. She respects Pelosi for maintaining her composure throughout the turbulent years of the Trump administration. She claimed that “women do lead differently” and that “women have to use their authority in a way that is just different,” and she believes that “she has perfected that.” “But if someone has to go up against her, good luck to them,” the speaker said.
And this feminine power and persistence are what some people find so frustrating about Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, and other female leaders, according to the beliefs of some other women. “The people around us anticipate that we will always act kindly.
“People may get quite passionate and angry about that,” said Democratic state Senator Sarah Elfreth of Maryland, 34 years old. “If and when we don’t behave in that particular ‘box,’ people can get unhappy about that.” Elfreth is quoted as saying, “I believe she suffered an excessive amount of criticism for doing the work in the same way, and at times better than men had done that job.”
And by doing so, she sets the road for other women who hold political office to be just as challenging and resilient as she is. Even though there has never been a woman elected as president of the United States, younger generations have at least witnessed Nancy Pelosi and an increasing number of other women serving alongside them in Congress.
When Nancy Pelosi was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1987, only about twenty dozen other female MPs were in the chamber. This year, 147 women serve in the House and Senate, and the number of governorships women hold is also on the rise. Cecilia Ritacco, a graduate student in government studies at Georgetown University who is 22 years old, said, “I think we take for granted how that (Pelosi’s leadership) has transformed what it means to be a woman in power, maybe what it means to be a woman executive, and I think that in years to come we’ll be especially grateful to her for breaking that glass ceiling.”
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