It's a Women's March because the women of the USA just lost their first female President - a woman who spent her life fighting for women and children. We have another generation of girls growing up into women without seeing a woman in the Oval Office. This has an affect on women. The male lock box of Oval Office power holds our country back. Boys and men see the ultimate seat of power in our nation as male. This has an affect on them. It's a march for the country because America is behind many other nations in terms of political equality for women. This affects our society economically and socially. We are fighting for our country because the way our first female president lost was due to a rogue FBI director and a foreign power. Freedom of the press and our civil liberties are at risk. We are fighting for our country because this new administration does not have respect for our institutions that help to keep our democratic republic stable. - Jennifer Hall Lee
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
Donald Trump and Marco Rubio are comparing penis size in their run for the presidency. What a difference Hillary has made in the 2016 race.
A woman could win the presidency and men are determined to show us she doesn't possess the right stuff, literally, a penis.
But, before the males can vanquish the female they have to beat their male opponents. Gender is going to be an issue in the general election and these male candidates are getting us ready by referencing their male body parts. For them the presidency is a male domain and they intend to keep it that way.
It has been said that small hands indicate small penis size. That is the quaint bit of folklore that Marco Rubio brought into the race. He said that even though Donald Trump is a tall man his hands are oddly small. “And you know what they say about men with small hands?”
Now there's a smack down.
Men have dominated the history of presidential politics in America, but the presence of Hillary has shifted the power dynamics. To use sexism against her, such as accusing her of of being shrill, will be attacked for what it is, so let's get down to what it's all about – the penis.
Even Donald Trump said recently that back in 2008 Hillary got “schlonged.”
The Oval Office is the ultimate mirror of power in the United States and the reflection has always been male. For women this image has never been their own. We are told that the presidency is for us too, but that has been an illusion under which we have all been expected to live until now.
Clearly Trump and Rubio are quietly panicked at the possibility of being beaten by a woman. So they have to come right out and say it through penis imagery, “The Oval Office is reserved for men and the big one wins.”
In the last republican debate Trump pounced on the accusation that he had a small penis. He held up his hands and said. “Look at those hands. Are they small hands? I guarantee you there’s no problem, I guarantee you.”
The penis talk underlines an assumption that come the general election Hillary will have a problem because she has no penis. Male power is entwined with a belief that women are inferior. If Hillary wins than that belief is dead.
Being male and being president have always gone together. Hillary alters the race. Will the penis count?
Interestingly, there is a precursor to talking about penis size; men going shirtless. Martin O'Malley sported the topless look early in the presidential race in the tradition of showing voters he is a virile man. It's a male tradition of sly messages.
We can't deceive ourselves anymore with subtleties. Penis talk is bold and vulgar. All male candidates of the presidency have rested comfortably in the fact that they follow in a long line of male candidates; the Oval Office has been a man's domain. Hillary marks a great change for the country's highest position.
For many this shift in power is unsettling. For others, like me, it's exhilarating. If she becomes president then the next generation of girls and boys will see power in a new way.
In the past men only had to compete with half the population, yet now, and in the future, the field will be doubled. This is a positive change because only through a broader field of candidates will we have greater opportunity to elect the best person for president.
For those who want to keep the field of candidates limited and male, talking about penis size, is a last resort.
Image courtesy Gage Skidmore/ WikiCommons