The California anti-Hillary protestors were out in force yesterday in front of East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park at a Hillary rally. They were assembled outside the auditorium with signs and megaphones and many wore Bernie stickers.
I had sent in my RSVP as soon as the Hillary campaign sent the invitation, but not being a seasoned rally-goer I showed up too late. The line snaked slowly along Avenida Cesar Chavez, but by the time we arrived we were declined admittance. It was disappointing but I had made a few new friends, we were happy members of the overflow crowd, a mixed group of women and men, young and old.
We were told by campaign workers that Hillary would come to greet us so we waited. We were jubilant. Hillary did arrive and we cheered. She was happy and smiling in a powder blue outfit. She waved and said a few words and then she was gone.
Why did she leave so quickly? I was told there were two people in front of the barricades who heckled her so the secret service detail ushered her safely inside the auditorium.
Too bad for us.
It was time to leave as the rally was inside and she wasn't coming back out. As officers from the sheriff's department escorted us from the area they asked if we got to see Hillary. Like I said, it was a friendly group. That changed fast as we headed to the exit and saw the large angry crowd of protestors we had to wade through in order to get to the street. A phalanx of sheriff's department officers were on alert in a sold line. I took a deep breath.
As I passed a line of protestors (many with Bernie stickers) they chanted “Shame on you!” Other protestors chanted “She's a liar.”
That doesn't sound so bad, but one man was pointing his finger about a millimeter away from my nose. Over and over again he pointed and chanted, “Shame on you!” He clearly wanted to have a physical altercation, but I didn't want one of those officers coming to arrest me so I chanted too. I silently said the ubiquitous corporate mantra, “Keep Calm and Carry On.” It worked.
Walking a few more steps I was confronted by a very tall young man dressed in a native American costume and his face was painted red. He sported a red feathered headdress. He was shirtless and only had a loin cloth covering his genitals, I could see his brown pubic hair.
How could I not snap a photo? As I held my camera to my face he moved in quickly with his megaphone and shouted into my face, “Shame on you.” He said it over and over again as he advanced towards me and I was forced to back up into the crowd of protestors.
Shame on me? For what? For attending a rally for Hillary Clinton or the fact that I was fully clothed?
He was no Ryan Gosling and I dare say that in a politically correct future where laws would prevent people from being offensive, he would have been cited for cultural appropriation.
This man in red face was utilizing his male privilege (if I may use progressive parlance); shirtless and showing his pubic hair. He had no fear of being attacked and he didn't look vulnerable, but he chose to physically intimidate me.
He was so hostile that one of my new Hillary supporting friends tried to pull me to safety. I kept taking pictures and a female protestor tried to stop him from screaming into my face. She said to me, “I'm a Bernie supporter but this isn't right, getting into people's faces.”
When people are emotional facts and decorum disappear and that was proved with some of the signs.
It was a sea of angry snarling signs making statements such as, "Hillary is a Liar" (not very original). One that stated “Not even Bill wants Hillary” (clearly this person can't get past the fact that Hillary is more than a wife). Other signs read, "Killary” (cute). And, yet others paired her with TPP, a treaty she rejects (facts are not required).
The sign that made the whole trip worth it was the one carried by a young woman who was clearly proud. I saw the letter V and zeroed in. It read:
“Having a VAGINA doesn't make you an outsider when you spend your career rubbing elbows on Wall Street.”
This is misogynistic objectification of a woman by a woman in a post feminist world. Similar to Vagina Voter, the word vagina is now used flagrantly to label women. It's Vagina Shaming. Hillary, like all women, has a right to bear a vagina and not be shamed for stepping into roles that have been traditionally reserved for men: military, finance, and the presidency.
Taking the entirety of a woman's career, complete with formidable work in global women's rights and boiling it down to one body part is objectification at best and misogyny at worst. This political use of the word vagina is an interesting new development in these years since Hillary first ran for president. Popularized by celebrities and pundits it has made its way into the political lexicon for girls and women to parse when they contemplate a run for political office. It's a sexist phrase that has been hiding under the surface with no where to go until a woman stepped up to run for president.
It's another piece to the puzzle as to why women have been so underrepresented in American politics.
All images by Jennifer Hall Lee