“I think this election has given many people an answer about why we need feminism.”
That’s just one of the powerful sentiments photographer Justin J. Wee heard from women after Hillary Clinton’s presidential loss.
The Australian photojournalist attended a viewing party on the night of Nov. 8, organized by women’s advocacy group Ladies Get Paid. Wee was eager to capture what many had assumed would be a historic night for women.
“I wanted to revel in the excitement that these women would have felt given that they have devoted their lives to fighting for gender equality,” Wee told The Huffington Post.
But the outcome was not what the group had hoped for. As more swing states went red, the atmosphere at the party completely changed.
“It was like all the energy had been sucked out by a vacuum,” Wee said. “Everyone was frustrated by what was happening, and even more confused by why it was happening. People were crying in corners. Seeing tears get shed was the moment I realized how threatened people felt.”
To capture the overwhelming emotion in the aftermath of the election, Wee photographed every woman at the viewing party. Later that week, he reached out to them to discuss how they felt post-election and what they’re doing to mobilize and stay empowered.
The series, titled “Where Do We Go From Here?,” is a powerful commentary on the 2016 election, misogyny and the growing importance of feminist organizing.
The women, who are primarily in their 20s and 30s, expressed a spectrum of emotional sentiments about Clinton’s loss. Some discussed how angry they were at the role sexism played in this election, while others seemed ready to mobilize.
“I witnessed all these public displays of feminism and solidarity, and in the moment of watching [Donald] Trump win, I felt like all that was undone,” one woman named Claire told Wee.
Another woman named Isata was a bit more optimistic: “I’m feeling really inspired by how many people have been moved to action,” she told Wee. “I’ve been on email chains that are filled with information on how we can raise our individual voices, collectively organize and ensure that the election results don’t permanently disenfranchise the people that Trump and his cabinet have targeted throughout their careers.”
Scroll below to see Wee’s portraits and read the powerful comments he heard from women.
"I want to create a safe space for dialogue between different and opposing view points to foster more understanding.”
“If our president is a man who treats women like objects… then he is setting a precedent that allows other men to follow suit."
"Hillary losing the election is simply a magnification of the struggle every competent woman has had in her professional life."
"I witnessed all these public displays of feminism and solidarity and in the moment of watching Trump win, I felt like all that was undone.”
“I’m feeling really inspired by how many people have been moved to action.”
“I am trying to step outside my circle.”
“Take a week to grieve, then get up and mobilize.”
“I felt most empowered talking to my mother about the election.”
“The support has made me feel very, very proud to be a woman right now.”
“It’s really important to stay aware of what’s actually going on.”
“You don’t want to live in a divided country filled with hate.”