2012 has been a rough year for American women; it's hard (and depressing) to count the overwhelming number of ways Republicans have tried to cut our funding to crucial health care services and limit our control over our own bodies, from enacting increasingly prohibitive abortion laws to punishing women politicians for simply daring to utter the word "vagina" on the House floor. (If we ignore them, they won't exist! Babies come from storks!)
But it turns out there's a silver lining to all the fuckery: the 12 Democratic women running for Senate this fall have collectively raised $110 million — twice as much as their Republican opponents — as a direct result of the right-wing's attempts to stifle their voices. Oh, sweet irony.
The money started rolling in earlier this year, after some of 2012's Best Moments in the War on Women (we hear they're making a compilation album, à la the NOW series!), like the GOP's various attempts to defund Planned Parenthood and the time Rush Limbaugh tactfully called Sandra Fluke a slut for advocating for birth control coverage.
Although the controversy over contraception has calmed down a bit since then, "women have not forgotten the attacks on Planned Parenthood; this is integral to their lives," Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told Politico. "They aren't going to forget because it's not on the front page of the paper today. They are remembering and they're responding to that."
And now that Romney's chosen the Ayn Rand-loving, family planning-hating Paul Ryan as his running mate, the stakes are even higher: groups from NARAL to Planned Parenthood have recently released statements calling the duo dangerous for women and asking for financial backing to help bring them down.
Much of the money being funneled to Democratic women candidates comes from EMILY's List, a PAC that supports pro-choice women candidates, and other donors who've had enough of anti-choice legislation, but since Republicans only need to snag four seats to take over the Senate in November, all sorts of liberal advocacy groups are helping out, from labor unions and human rights groups to environmentalists. Fundraising efforts are especially strong in states like Massachusetts and Wisconsin that — gulp — have a good chance of deciding the balance of power in the Senate.
Elizabeth Warren, who is running against Republican Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts, has raised more than $25 million, as opposed to Brown's $17 million. In Wisconsin, Rep. Tammy Baldwin has raised $7 million, more than twice the relatively scant $2.5 million raised by her GOP competitor, Tommy Thompson. (Since Baldwin's openly gay, she's received a good amount of money from LGBT rights groups, but the fight's far from over; Thompson just won his party's primary vote and is sure to receive more funding ASAP.) Other women enjoying a heavy cash flow include Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley and a number of Senators considered safe in their races: New York's Kirstin Gillibrand, Washington's Maria Cantwell, Minnesota's Amy Klobuchar, and California's Dianne Feinstein.
Women could very well hold more seats in both chambers of Congress next year than ever before, especially since it's not just Democratic women that are killing it; Republican women running for Senate in Hawaii, New Mexico, and Connecticut are also outraising their opponents. All together, the 18 women running for Senate have raised more than $135 million this cycle. Get it, girls — or, as a wise woman once said: "Don't get mad, get everything."