Midterm Elections: How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Other Women Made History


It was a big night in midterm election history! In many cases, it was also a night of firsts. Following President Donald Trump's election, record numbers of women entered Democratic primaries and ran for some form of public office during this midterm. Compared to the last midterm election, Times Up reports there were 235 women candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives than a previous record of 167. Among the many inspirational women elected Tuesday night, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of the youngest elected to Congress.

She is not only an educator and political activist, but also one of the many women, whose win is a milestone during this year's election. This amazing Latina, defeated Republican Rep. Anthony Pappas, who was formerly an economics professor at St. John's University in Queens. She won New York's 14th Congressional District, earning support from 78 percent of voters according to NBC News. It was an expected win after Ocasio-Cortez beat out U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley in June.

After her big win, Ocasio-Cortez gave a victory speech last night. “We launched this campaign because in the absence of anyone giving a clear voice on the moral issues of our time, it is up to us to voice them," she proclaims. “We have the duty to stand up for what is right." She concluded her speech with a powerful, inspirational statement. “We cannot stop. Electoral politics is just a tool in a larger tool box of this movement," she says. Ocasio-Cortez also sent a tweet to her followers, grateful for the opportunity of running in this election. “I am so thankful for every single person who contributed, amplified, and worked to establish this movement," she tweeted.

For those who may not know, this 29-year-old was born in the Bronx, and raised by Puerto Rican parents. She got her degree in economics and international relations from Boston University, but also took interest in establishment politics during college while working for Senator Edward. M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, according to The New York Times. Her political involvement didn't end there. After college, she took on new projects in the Bronx that would improve education for children and years later, took part in political activism like the protests at the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation, also according to the Times.

“We launched this campaign because in the absence of anyone giving a clear voice on the moral issues of our time, it is up to us to voice them," she proclaims.

Witnessing history in the making...

As of today, 117 women won their midterm elections according to The Washington Post. Women are making historic accomplishments. Tom Perez, Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is proud to have supported so many female candidates across the country in a recent press release. “A record number of Democratic women are headed to Congress, and women made up the overwhelming majority of congressional seats we flipped from red to blue," he states. “Women are leading the resistance, and the Democratic Party will continue to stand in solidarity with women in America and around the world marching for the equality they deserve – from equal pay and paid family leave, to more affordable health care and child care, to better educational opportunities and the right to live and work free from harassment or assault." He went on to congratulate a few of the newly elected Democratic women.

Record numbers of women ran during this midterm election. Photo Courtesy of Timesupnow.com

Along with Ocasio-Cortez, there is a list of remarkable, diverse group of women who have contributed to a night of firsts.

Stacey Abrams, Democrat: Abrams is currently still running for governor in Georgia. If she wins, she will be the first black governor in U.S. history.

Ilhan Omar, Democrat: Omar is serving as the Minnesota State Representative for the 5th district. She is one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress.

Rashida Tlaib, Democrat: Tlaib is serving as Michigan State Representative for the 13th district. She is also one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress.

Veronica Escobar, Democrat: Escobar is serving as Texas State Representative for the 16th district. She is one of the first Texas Latina's elected to Congress.

Sylvia Garcia, Democrat: Garcia is serving as Texas State Representative for the 29th district. She is also one of the first Texas Latina's elected to Congress.

Ayanna Pressley, Democrat: Pressley is serving as Massachusetts State Representative for the 7th district. She is Mass. first black congresswoman.

Deb Haaland, Democrat: Haaland is serving as New Mexico State Representative for the 1st district. She is one of the Native American women elected to Congress.

Sharice Davids: Davids is serving as Kansas State Representative for the 3rd district. She is also one of the first Native American women elected to Congress.

Abby Finkenauer, Democrat: Finkenauer is serving as the Iowa State Representative for the 99th district. She is also one of the youngest women elected to Congress.

Young Kim, Republican: Kim is serving as the California State Representative for the 39th district. She is the first Korean American woman in Congress.

“A record number of Democratic women are headed to Congress, and women made up the overwhelming majority of congressional seats we flipped from red to blue," states Tom Perez, Chair of the Democratic National Committee.

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Patriarchy Stress Disorder is A Real Thing and this Psychologist Is Helping Women Overcome It

For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.

As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.

Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.

What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein

This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.

Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.

While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.

"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.

Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.

In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.

"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."