“I did try and fuck her. She was married. I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look. I’ve gotta use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
This is our president. This is peak patriarchy. I don’t even care to consider the locker rooms where that language is or isn’t used. I don’t need to, Brock Turner’s sentence for brutal rape, and the ongoing disproportionate murder of our trans sisters is proof enough. What I do need is, to continuously try to protect myself from the many aggressions that assail me each and every day, to hold my hand out to those that have to face even more than I do, and to have clarity around the resistance actions in which I participate. Especially in regard to longterm strategy.
That p word our president used so freely has been used against me my entire life and every cell in my body cringes every time it is uttered in my vicinity. So before an entire march chose to knit those pink hats, I instead had become the proud owner of a pair of pants with CUNT printed all over them. I love this word. I own this word. I highly recommend the book by the same title, even though it is from 1998.
I’m also fully aware that on the campaign trail, this now US president, publicly mocked a reporter with a ‘disability.’ Therefore, for me, he was also belittling my own deceased disabled half-brother, and a huge community of people that matter. This is important for several reasons beyond the obvious. First, the disability caucus joined the Women’s March despite being excluded from the platform, and I’ll get to that in a moment. Second, in addition to half of our genetic code, my brother and I shared a grandmother; a fierce and vivacious woman who told me stories about the time before Roe vs. Wade when women had to find scary illegal abortions. In honor of her and the women of her generation, I wore her earrings to two different protests over the course of two days.
The first protest I attended was #J20 and that’s where I wore those earrings, and the pants I mentioned previously. I knew I was potentially drawing fire beyond what I experience every day, because while it might be okay to some people for the President of the United States to sexually assault women, it is not okay to be a self-possessed women in the United States in the eyes of those very same people. It took literally seconds to prove this.
What the photo does not show is the heckling I received from several Trump supporters standing to the side, and the fact that I was actually approached by one of them. An older smaller white woman got up in my face to inform me that I was degrading myself and how much better than me she was. As if she hadn’t aligned herself with the particular men she was with, accordingly. As if we were in competition with one another. All I said, repeatedly, was, “how are you, today?”
The stance I am in physically, is a yoga asana (yoga is never just about the asana, by the way) known as goddess. My legs are spread wide, the word CUNT is visible along my thighs, and I am fully supported by the earth with my arms raised overhead while holding a sign that reads ‘Not My President’ in Russian. The sign is double-sided, so the police behind me read the very same words in English, even if they didn’t understand my fuller message.
The photograph also plays with the idea that Trump paid prostitutes to pee on him. As if that’s ‘the something’ that he should be most ashamed of. In our puritanical US culture, it is straight forward transactional consensual sex that makes us uncomfortable. Seemingly more so than the perverse acts I’ve already mentioned?! And what about the election being impacted by Russian hacking; or the perverse nomination of Tillerson, an oil executive with ties to Russia,for secretary of State? As if the degradation of our planet isn’t the biggest travesty of all, for every single one of us.
[I need to pause here to thank several people for making this photograph possible. Kevin W. Miller for the image itself, Megan for placing her hand firmly on my back as I was verbally attacked, and the random woman with bystander intervention skills that put herself between me and my attacker, so that the scene remained peaceful.]
Why did I draw fire like this? Because I think it’s time for all of us to be uncomfortable, not just the marginalized and oppressed. I’m a yogi and also an artist, a performance artist activist even. The tshirt I’m wearing in the picture isn’t visible, but reads ‘Pacifist’ on the front, and although it was covered by a jacket, ‘Labels Are For Jars’ on the back.
It doesn’t really matter what I wear though, as proved by my experience after the Women’s March the very next day, when I tried to order a beer at a bar where a wheelchair assisted member of our party could easily join us.
As I mosied up to the bar, I encountered three Capitol Hill interns that thought I was there for their entertainment. When was the last time you read the Handmaiden’s Tale? I chose to ignore that particular fight, ordered myself a coffee porter as was my mission, and left my change of three dollars for the bartender who was intentionally taking too long, in order to keep from punching anyone. This will not be the next arrest on my record, I told myself as I left. I now know what I’m willing to be arrested for, and this isn’t it.
While I have the utmost respect for the #NoDAPL Water Protectors and their ability to stay peaceful in the face of the militarized violence regularly being used against them, and even attended a Quaker peace-keeper training myself in preparation for the Women’s March (which is laughable to me in hindsight – you can read why, here); I’m also from Baltimore, and understand the frustration that leads to riots, and that the destruction of property in the face of exploitative capitalism is often the correct language to use and sometimes the only way to be heard. I will always stand with #BlackLivesMatter in response to anyone that questions that.
I have the utmost respect the Disability Caucus for participating in the Women’s March, even while they were still fighting for inclusion in the platform. Their power as a community has yet to be fully recognized, and they are the most intersectional of all. Take their lead and please stay involved over the long haul. None of us are perfect in our activism. We need everyone to both examine their individual privilege, and to remain ALL IN, while we continue to learn about ourselves and each other! We certainly have a common enemy, one intent on destroying the world.
Please keep your hand out to those that are being left behind, use your privilege, whenever possible, to say the things that need to be said to the state and in the face of power. Checking-in with your friends is nice, but make sure to make many new ones that look different than you. Tell them that you love them and help them to stay strong and to rest when necessary. Also, please question groupthink. Regularly. In solidarity, and admittedly still learning how to be a better co-conspirator rather than just an ally myself; please respectfully sign me, CUNT.
Resources & next steps: