And Republican women came quickly. They invested heavily in running female candidates in the past two years, largely spurred by Elise Stefanik, who became a glass-ceiling-shatterer herself when she won her capital-area New York congressional district in 2014 as a 30-year-old, then the youngest woman to be elected to the House (before AOC). Within months of the Democratic “pink wave,” Stefanik proclaimed that the GOP was “facing a crisis level of Republican women in Congress,” and launched a new PAC to run women in primaries. She faced mild pushback. After one party official called her efforts a “mistake,” Stefanik fired back on Twitter, “NEWSFLASH: I wasn’t asking for permission.” Now she’s positioning herself as a triumphant underdog: “For all these naysayers,” she told Politico after November 3, “we have proven that strong, Republican women are the best candidates to put on the ballot.”

In an uncanny echo of Democrats’ own 2018 rhetoric, there are now GOP groups with blandly feminist-sounding names like VIEW (Value in Electing Women) and “Winning for Women,” fundraising in opposition to blue state predecessors like “Run for Something,” “She Should Run,” and “She the People.” The fact that these platitudes can be so easily co-opted makes them ring ultimately hollow. There is obvious value in electing women in a country where a staggering 75% of both chambers of government that dictate policy are male: Female leadership has been instrumental in attempting to pass paid family leave, in speaking out against family separation, and in raising the alarm about the increasingly conservative Supreme Court. But women are not a monolith, and there’s nothing revolutionary about a woman politician who votes like an old white guy. And many female candidates are anything but progressive: The Republican “pink wave” includes Lauren Boebert, the owner of a gun-themed restaurant who rose to fame by defying Covid shutdown orders, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon believer and conspiracy theorist.