The Nasty Pussies At Trump Tower

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A woman dressed as a vagina at
the Pussy Power at Trump Tower rally on Oct. 19.
Munoz / Reuters

ID: 9828411

On a narrow stretch of sidewalk outside of Trump Tower, a woman
dressed as a vagina was being directed to keep moving by a male
police officer. Behind her, a blonde woman in a tiara and
formal wear — a beauty queen — was trailed by a giant black
octopus labeled “TRUMPTOPUS,” its tentacles coiling around her.
A doorman in a suit stood in the doorway, staring steadfastly

A crowd numbering somewhere in the hundreds had gathered, as
the Facebook
invite declared, to “protest the pussy-grabber
at his place of residence.” The event had been orchestrated by
four individuals, but no official group or organization was in
charge. While tourists gathered to take pictures, chants
alternated between various pussy themes:
“This pussy votes” faded into “hands off my pussy,” followed by
“power to the pussy.” The protesters gathered here,
representing different races, sexualities, ages, nationalities,
and abilities, were here to protest Trump: a man they see as a
fundamental threat to their rights and existences as women.

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A beauty queen and a Trumptopus
at the Pussy Power Rally. Anne
Helen Petersen

ID: 9829077

The feeling on the ground was one of pride and power, but with
a strong undercurrent of fear. One woman laughed when she said
“Who knew that sexually abused women were a voting bloc!” but
it was a sad laugh about a sad fact. Shortly thereafter, she
grew enraged as a small group of Marxist socialists tried to
hijack the rally, yelling “dissent is possible!” into a
megaphone. “You can’t be here!” she shouted. “You’re going to
ruin it for all of us!”

She was angry at the Marxists, but many of the other women
there were similarly enraged, or just frustrated, with the
women who’d stuck by Trump. Out of two dozen women I spoke to,
none could come up with one topic, or policy, or fundamental
right on which all women in America, regardless of class or
race or political persuasion, could agree. “I thought that
everyone agreed that it wasn’t okay to assault women,” one told
me. “I thought that our safety was something we could’ve agreed
on. But these past weeks have shown me I was wrong.”

That feeling of disunity, of the difficulty of actually
communicating with the other side of the political spectrum,
has permeated the presidential race for months. But it’s been
amplified by the cascading
release of tapes and testimony that paint a picture of man
who believes, as Trump said in the Access Hollywood
tape, that “you
can do anything” when it comes to women.

Many Trump supporters have expressed disbelief that the alleged
assaults ever occurred; others believe that Trump’s “locker
room talk” and groping is just how men behave. Last week, a
female Trump supporter
told me that “if my husband didn’t talk like that, I’d
think there was something wrong with him.” That’s a reaction
that’s difficult for many anti-Trump women to understand. As
one commenter on the story about the rally declared,
“internalized misogyny is a hell of a drug.”

Part of the problem is that each side struggles to empathize
with the fear felt by the other side. At the Trump rally, many
women expressed genuine anxiety over the future of the country:
Their desire for a wall on the Mexican border wasn’t because
they hated immigrants, but because they wanted to keep their
state safe from the drugs that had killed their family members.
And regardless of whether or not the wall would actually be
built, or stop the flow of opiates into the state, or go on to
make them feel safer — regardless of whether or not the very
idea of it is racist or xenophobic — that fear is nonetheless

Yet a different sort of anxiety ran through the protests at
Pussy Power. On the edge of the police barricades, Stephanie
and Lisa, both from Manhattan, held a sign spray-painted with
GRAB MY PUSSY. They were against Trump, but they were
particularly frightened by Mike Pence, whose stance and
policies as governor of Indiana have attempted to marginalize
and demonize queer citizens. “He wrote the most horrible stuff
about LGBT people, among whom I am one — that we’re
disgustingly dirty, that we have all kinds of STDs, that we’re
not even good workers,” Stephanie said. “He’s anti-women’s
rights, he’s anti-choice, anti-abortion. There’s no pro in

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Ceci and Meryl, both from New
York City, with their “My Sacred Pussy” signs.
Anne Helen Petersen

ID: 9829228

Swati, a South Asian woman from the Bronx, believed Trump and
his supporters would infer things about her based on her skin
color: “Even though I’m not Muslim American, attacks against
Muslim Americans affect me. My husband’s Puerto Rican, I’m a
feminist, I pumped at work: We’re exactly the kind of family
Donald Trump hates.” Taji, also from the Bronx, wore a printed
shirt that read ANGRY LIBERAL FEMINIST KILLJOY. “Even if he has
a daughter, he doesn’t see us as women,” she said. “He
doesn’t care about us. And there’s even more at stake for me as
a person of color. In my neighborhood, right now, Planned
Parenthood isn’t really even an option.”

As busses drove down Fifth Avenue blasting their horns in
support, a pair of women held signs that paired “HANDS OFF MY
SACRED PUSSY” with a Georgia O’Keefe-like rendering of a
vagina. Meryl, with close-cropped lavender hair, had designed
the posters herself. “Mike Pence is in some ways more dangerous
than Trump, because he wants to control every woman’s
pussy: Get that transvaginal ultrasound in there, force
funerals for miscarriages,” she said. “I had a miscarriage, and
the last thing I want is for someone to tell me how to handle
that. They want to legislate women’s bodies. That’s my biggest
fear.” Her friend Ceci added: “All of my rights as a woman that
are really hard fought, hard won — they’re at risk.”

The crowd was dotted with children: Willow, a 10-year-old from
Park Slope, Brooklyn, was at her first protest. The week
before, she’d had her first conversation about sexual assault
with her mom, Sonja. Willow held a sign that read “TEN YEAR
OLDS AGAINST TRUMP,” and thinks that Hillary is great. “I’m
wearing her shirt!” she exclaimed. She doesn’t like Trump
because “he’s a racist and a sexist,” and also because he’s not
nice in the debates. Susana, who’s from Mexico but currently
living in New York, brought her daughter Carlotta, age five.
She explained that they were going to protest a man who said
bad things about girls and about Mexicans, and Carlotta decided
she wanted to wear her Supergirl costume to protect against the
insults. “I’m not a citizen, and we can’t vote, but at least we
can protest.”

Just hours after the protest, Clinton and Trump took the stage
for the last presidential debate in Las Vegas. On the subject
of Roe v. Wade, Trump decried that “in the ninth month you can
take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother
just prior to the birth of the baby” —
a procedure that does not, in fact, exist. Clinton
countered that she would defend not just the Supreme Court’s
landmark decision, but also Planned Parenthood and women’s
rights, broadly speaking, when it comes to their bodies. “I can
tell you the government has no business in the decisions that
women make with their families in accordance with their faith,
with medical advice,” she said. “And I will stand up for that

Later in the debate, Clinton offered details about how she
would attempt to address issues with social security,
suggesting that her personal contributions would go up — as
would Trump’s, unless he figured out a way to get out of it.
a nasty woman,” Trump interrupted, shaking his head and
rolling his eyes.

In the short time since, the phrase has become emblematic of
the gender dynamics of the debates — and Trump’s attitude
towards both Clinton and any woman who’s attempted to challenge
him. Memes declaring “Nasty Women Vote” have already
proliferated across social media, along with GIFs of Janet
aggregations of the best Nasty Women tweets, and
merch declaring yourself a Nasty Woman or affiliating
yourself with one.

In truth, it’s not that different from what happened after
Clinton described a swath of Trump supporters as “the basket of
deplorables” — “the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic,
Islamophobic — you name it.” In the months since, “deplorable”
merchandise has become a best-seller at Trump rallies; in
Cincinnati, six women wore
matching pink and white “adorable deplorable” shirts they’d
made at home. They were owning what the opposing candidate had
said was the worst part of them — and the worst part of

As the sun went down in Manhattan, Trump hadn’t yet called
Clinton a “nasty woman.” But that’s precisely what these “pussy
power” protesters were owning: what is so often treated as the
most nasty, most abject, most different, most female part of
themselves. And, as such, most threatening — in part because
they were demanding control of not only their pussies, but
their entire bodies. “We should be safe in our own bodies,”
Kindra, who identified as a “queer woman from a tiny Oregon
town,” told me. “We should be safe from everything, but at the
very fucking minimum from getting touched without our consent.”

In the Access Hollywood video, Trump suggested that the
pussy was not only something that he could grab, but whose
owner he could control. With their chants ringing out down
Fifth Avenue, their graphic signs, and their vulvic costumes,
these protesters forcefully countered that logic. After all,
the word “pussy” only becomes dirty when it’s uttered in public
— and women only become nasty when they refuse to remain

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Kindra (center) at the Pussy
Power at Trump Tower rally. Eduardo
Munoz / Reuters

ID: 9829260

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