Barbara Boxer's Greatest Feminist Moments

by Celia Darrough

Sen. Barbara Boxer, a politician who has been fighting for the rights of women since her election to Congress in 1982, announced Thursday that Boxer would retire by not seeking re-election next year. In her time in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, Boxer had quickly earned a reputation as a liberal feminist who riled conservatives with her abruptness and "testy exchanges." Like in 2009, when she sharply asked a brigadier general in the Army Corps of Engineers to call her "senator" instead of "ma'am."

The California Democrat made the announcement in a YouTube video, staging a mock interview with her grandson, Zach Rodham, who is the son of Boxer's daughter and Hillary Rodham Clinton's brother. You can watch the video here. In it, she answers questions to explain her decision and then ends with a poem asserting that she will continue to fight for what she believes in.

So although I won't be working in my Senate space and I won't be running in that next tough race, as long as there are issues and challenges and strife, I will never retire, because that's the meaning of my life.

Boxer has a seriously awesome history of standing up for women in the more than 30 years she's been in politics. Here are some of the best moments in which she advanced women's rights.

She marched to the Senate for Anita Hill

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In 1991, when the vote to confirm Clarence Thomas's nomination to the Supreme Court was going to proceed, Boxer and six other congresswomen led a march to the Senate to demand that the sexual harassment charges be investigated first. Anita Hill, a law professor and former employee of Thomas, alleged that the nominee had sexually harassed her when she worked for him. Although Thomas eventually was sworn in as the court's 106th justice, the judiciary committee agreed to delay the vote after the march, and the nomination passed only 52-48.

Her Senate elections were turning points for women in politics

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A year after the march, Boxer was elected to the Senate in a 1992 election that the Associated Press says "heralded a new era for women at the upper reaches of political power." Years later, in 2004, Boxer won her third election, receiving nearly 7 million popular votes — the greatest amount ever earned by a senator at that point in time.

She's outspoken about being pro-choice

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Boxer has an expansive record of voting in favor of pro-choice legislation, according to On the Issues, a nonprofit organization that details information about politicians' stances. She was rated at 100 percent for her pro-choice record by NARAL Pro-Choice America, she sponsored bills providing contraceptives for low-income women and emergency contraceptives for rape victims, and she criticized restrictions on abortion, arguing that they are akin to making women and doctors criminals.

She fought violence against women

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Boxer voted for the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. The legislation, meant to fight all violence against women, including domestic violence and international trafficking, also included a provision from Boxer's Child Protection Compact Act to combat child trafficking, exploitation, and enslavement. She said:

With three women killed each day at the hands of abusive partners, it was critical that we reauthorized this important law.

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