Members in Congress pledging to wear black during the 2018 State of the Union in solidarity with women opposing sexual harassment shows a level of coordinated protest not seen before, says Virginia Tech’s Brandy Faulkner.

“These protests and the backlash are happening now because people's lives are being affected in noticeable and significant ways," Faulkner said. "Issues of sexual assault, racism, and religious bigotry were so prominent in the past election, it has sparked great concern for many.”

Quoting Faulkner

“While the overarching issues are certainly ideological ones, it is clear that the protests will largely be anti-Trump and mostly partisan. That's not to say that we won't see women from red states wearing black, but I don't expect there will be a significant number of them. In terms of policy, the protests tie into healthcare, reproductive rights, DACA, education, tax reform, and civil rights generally.”

“Historically there have been strong movements that are comparable in strength--the civil rights movement of the 40s-70s as well as the first and second waves of feminist movements. They lead to incremental legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Equal Pay Act of 1963. But, they've also lead to things like the passage of the 19th Amendment and the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade.”

“It's interesting to see so many different types of interests being represented under one umbrella. The agenda appears to be advocating for stronger anti-sexist and anti-harassment policies in workplaces, ending discrimination against Muslim women and children, and protecting reproductive choices.”

About Faulkner

Brandy Faulkner is a visiting assistant professor at Virginia Tech’s College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Her areas of specialization include constitutional and administrative law, race and public policy, and critical organization theory. She teaches courses in public administration, constitutional law, administrative law, research methods, and the politics of race, ethnicity, and gender. View her full bio here.

Expertise featured in The Roanoke Times and Refinery29

Schedule an interview

To secure an interview with Brandy Faulkner, contact Ceci Leonard,, 540-357-2500.

Our studio

Virginia Tech's television and radio studio can broadcast live HD audio and video to networks, news agencies, and affiliates interviewing Virginia Tech faculty, students, and staff. The university does not charge for use of its studio. Video is transmitted by LTN Global Communications and fees may apply. Broadcast quality audio for radio is transmitted via ISDN.

Share this story