I believe in a world that will fight back – now more than ever. Can’t remember when I last witnessed rage, disappointment and incredulity that ricocheted across age, race, religion, sexuality, gender, class, countries and food restriction lines. It’s horrifying and spectacular to witness. The other day my dad called Trump a total asshole. He’s 86 years old and conservative – my dad that is. We’re finally seeing eye to eye, so I know there’s hope.
Election night I sobbed – unable, unprepared (yet) for the backwardness and utter ignorance that had just been unleashed on the US and on my world. By January 21, 2017 I was on my feet in Washington DC marching in the pink pussy hat I might be wearing until Trump leaves office.
The flight on January 20th erupted in cheers when someone asked how many of us were off to the March. Turns out that happened on virtually every flight. We poured in from everywhere. So began my weekend of goosebumps.
On the streets on inauguration night, pussy hats and ‘Make America Gay Again’ caps rubbed shoulders with ‘Make America Great Again’ hats. But don’t think the divide between us and them is necessarily well-marked. We ran into a couple in a black taffeta ball gown and a Tom Ford tux. Here’s a bit of our friendly exchange.
Us: “Are you going to an inauguration ball?”
Them: “Yes we are.” He couldn’t remember if it was the Freedom or the Liberty ball (which should have both been called the Kick America in the Balls ball).
Them: “Are you ladies heading to the March tomorrow?”
Us: “We sure are.”
Them (smiling and waving goodbye): “Well have a great time!”
Got the feeling she’d rather go to the March.
Saturday was a pussy-jam of marchers in pink hats – light and dark, big and floppy, loose and tight, long and short. No one could move. We cheered the words we could hear and those we couldn’t, because really we were cheering ourselves for being there, for getting started, for knitting (and wearing) so many pink tea cozies.
Tell me what Democracy looks like. This is what Democracy looks like. (my new favourite chant)
People lined up for almost two hours to use the port-o-potties. The March started really late because everyone on the roster had to speak (it’s a feminist event, what do you expect?) Frustrations were expressed in words like This is like déjà vue from 45 minutes ago. Toshi Reagon’s beautiful, powerful voice rang out. A confident middle-aged gal wore a t-shirt that read: Not this pussy. It was glorious.
Everywhere I went in my hat over the next three days, people smiled and told me they’d been there, or wanted to be, but had to work, or their wife was there, or their mom. On Tuesday morning as we passed through airport security, a female officer called out “Thanks for coming ladies” – as though we showed up at her church bazaar, or helped her raise a barn. Gratitude - it felt that personal.
Since I got home, the world has been bombarded with executive orders and missives from Trump’s bed (We need a leader, not a creepy tweeter), and a cast of absurd cabinet picks. It’s a wonder any of my teeth are still in place, I’ve picked my jaw up off the ground so many times. My hours have been sucked away to social and less social media – keeping up, making sense, scheming, feeling some relief that after all, it’s not my country that’s unraveling in such a spectacular way.
Then a terrorist attacked a mosque in Quebec City leaving six dead, and it was clear that any smugness or complacency I dared feel, any thoughts that the hell was elsewhere, were dangerous and foolhardy. But our sanity will be best served in seeing this not as a coming apart of democracy, but as a coming together of a movement. Even alone in the middle of the night, when fears and anxieties wreak their best havoc, we won’t be taking it lying down.
How will I survive this ‘Orange is the New Hell Presidency’? I plan to kick up a lot of shit, hold a lot of hands, chant until I lose my voice, and wash my pussy hat often.
Oh, and laugh. I’m not sure why anyone took offence to the Donald Trump got more fat women walking in one day than Michelle Obama did in eight years, joke. We need to keep a sense of humour to shoulder these obscenities. And anyway, it’s kind of true. Michelle said stuff like Let’s all get into shape and eat better! Trump said, Listen you ugly bitches, I’m going to fuck up your world with my walls, my bans, my long ties (to Putin), my pussy-grabbing hate.
Damn right we started exercising – our rights. We marched across continents. We gathered in the 10s and the hundreds of thousands to burn off some of that anger (and maybe a calorie or two) and experience the joy of being collectively, colossally pissed-off. Sure, give Trump the credit for that. He has no idea what kind of P90X-style protest movement he’s unleashed.
In the coziness of my hat, the looks I get – dirty and smiley – are both telling. I know my allies. I know my foes. I know there’s a massive in-between that’s already shifting our way.