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Need a Safe Space to Gush About Hillary Clinton? Try Pantsuit Nation

FLARE reached out to the creator of Pantsuit Nation—Facebook's largest private group—to find out how she made a positive space to discuss HRC's historic candidacy

It's time to pantsuit up! (Design: Leo Tapel)

It’s time to pantsuit up! (Design: Leo Tapel)

“The whole election has been so mean,” Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon told Alec Baldwin this past weekend, during their last sketch as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, respectively, before the U.S. Presidential Election.

“I feel so gross all the time,” Baldwin replied, breaking character for the first time since he started doing a spot-on impression of The Donald.

Fortunately, there’s at least one troll-free corner of the Internet: a private Facebook group where all people, regardless of gender or political party, can voice personal reflections about what this election and Hillary Clinton means to them… and swap some creative pantsuit inspo ahead of Election Day.

Created on October 20 by Maine resident Libby Chamberlain, Pantsuit Nation—tagline: “Wear a pantsuit on November 8. You know why”—has maintained its positive, inspirational and safe space by setting its privacy details to “secret,” meaning membership can only be secured through an invite from another member. Moderators also regulate posts to ensure the group’s enthusiasm isn’t derailed.

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If the group’s ballooning membership says anything, it’s that this space has been long overdue. Pantsuit Nation has grown from a small group of 100 or so friends to a movement that’s 1.8 million strong. And membership “continues to climb,” said Chamberlain in a fact sheet she shared with FLARE.

Now Pantsuit Nation is the largest private group on Facebook, having added more than 1.5 million members in the past 17 days. Those members have submitted and shared more than 20,000 posts on the daily. And since November 4, they’ve collectively raised $170,000 to support Clinton in the final days of her election bid.

Chamberlain says she had no idea her group would go viral. “It shows the incredible power of social media at its very best,” she says.

“While the positive response and growth have been amazing, I think the real feat of this group has been its ability to honour each member’s personal story and celebrate all the reasons why this election is the most important of our lifetimes, without resorting to the usual vitriol that seems to plague many other spaces these days.”

Tomorrow Chamberlain will wear a pantsuit as show of support—and she’s encouraging everyone to do the same; men included. Some dudes have even talked about wearing pearls, tunics or the playful Everyday Pantsuit Tee on the group.

Chamberlain actually purchased three pantsuits ahead of the election, but has since decided on white for tomorrow.

Hard choices.

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“White has important symbolism in women’s rights and for women in politics,” explains Chamberlain.

“It was not only the colour that women used during women’s suffrage to symbolize the purity of their movement but it’s also the colour Shirley Chisholm wore when she became the first African American elected to Congress, and the colour Geraldine Ferraro wore when she accepted the VP nomination of a major party ticket in 1984.”

Post-election day, the group still plans to stay private.

“For many voters in this election, sharing their support for a particular candidate publicly has opened them to verbal—and sometimes physical—intimidation and assault. Our members are relieved to find a place where they can support their candidate without fear of anger or attacks,” says Pantsuit Nation.

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