Washington, D.C.—After marching with hundreds of thousands of women on the national mall, New Haven bus captain Maggie Quinn had one more stop to make. Trotting up the gentle slope of Capitol Hill, she headed toward the Rayburn House, where U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro and Elizabeth Esty were inside at a reception and in severe need of hand-knitted pink pussyhats.
“I have something for you!” Quinn told DeLauro, handing her the hat in a plastic ziplock bag. DeLauro grinned with delight, did a little twirl, and put it on.
In doing so, she picked up a message seen and heard all day in D.C.: She was ready to “grab” back, show solidarity with “pussies” across Connecticut, and fight a new administration.
That was the message New Haven and Connecticut women delivered at Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington, the anchoring event for hundreds of anti-Trump sister marches worldwide. The D.C. event alone drew as many as half a million protesters a day after the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump.
And everywhere you looked, you saw a sea of pussyhats.
Conceived as a reference to Trump’s 2005 recorded statement that he could “grab women by the pussy,” the pussyhat has since become a symbol of the march itself. It signifies a determination to “grab back” — to dig in, organizing at both the grassroots and national levels for abortion rights, equal pay for equal work, paid medical and family leave, and protection for victims of sexual assault and intimate partner violence among other issues.
Quinn is not alone: Leading up to Saturday’s marches, a national movement has encouraged women to knit pussyhats and display them at rallies. Dubbed the “Pussyhat Project,” it offers a pattern for knitters to copy. And it offers this explanation:
“We love the clever word play of ‘pussyhat’ and ‘pussycat,’ but yes, “pussy” is also a derogatory term for female genatalia. We chose this loaded word for our project because we want to reclaim the term as a means of empowerment. In this day and age, if we have pussies we are assigned the gender of “woman.” Women, whether transgender or cisgender, are mistreated in this society. In order to get fair treatment, the answer is not not take away our pussies, the answer is not to deny our femaleness and femininity, the answer is to demand fair treatment. A woman’s body is her own. We are honoring this truth and standing up for our rights.”
In preparation for the Saturday’s March, Quinn took that message to heart. Even before the electoral college had confirmed the president’s candidacy, she began knitting pussyhats for everyone she knew, furiously working through ball after ball of dark pink yarn. She started giving them away “to friends of friends of friends” on request. Then to the women who boarded her bus that left Wilbur Cross High School around 1 a.m. Saturday for the DC march. And then, specifically, for her legislators.
“I’m really angry, but we can’t let our anger stop us from being adults, from behaving like adults, and stop us from trying to engage the people who disagree with us in constructive ways,” said Quinn. “Yelling and ad hominem attacks are not the answer.”
“I just did it myself to try and make some creativity out of the agita that I’ve been feeling since the election,” she said. “We are exhausted, but we are so glad we came.”
Chanting “Hey hey, ho ho/ Donald Trump has got to go!,” “This is what Democracy looks like!” and “My body my choice!,” Quinn — with 80 busloads of women from Connecticut, and hundreds of thousands of others from across the U.S.— was in good company. Marching along Constitution Avenue with her friends Allie Pang and Sayoko Blodgett-Ford, former (and possibly future) New Haven Alder Abby Roth (pictured above) rocked a striped purple-and-pink pussy hat that a woman on her Friday afternoon train had given her.
Meanwhile, Action Together CT Organizer Valerie Horsley was gathering advocates who had made the trip with her. She prepared to march down Pennsylvania Avenue with homemade signs of multicolored uteri and a banner for their advocacy group, which was started as a place for grassroots organizing in the wake of the election. Around them, mothers and young children in their pussy hats cheered them on.
Outside DeLauro’s post-walk reception reception at the Rayburn House, recent New Haven transplant Niko Scharer motioned to her own pussy hat, speaking about why she’d made the trip to DC.
“I needed to be here,” she said. “If I hadn’t come, I would have gone crazy.”
Inside the Rayburn House, as the reception wound down, DeLauro and Esty proudly sported their hats, talking to constituents who were still streaming in about the importance of the march.
Quinn smiled as she listened. “I really think there were 800,000 women out there, and I feel like I have 800,000 new friends,” she said.
posted by: mailuser1221 on January 22, 2017 7:38am
Great display of democracy and freedom, to be applauded for sure.
Please consider the millions of women across the country that specifically DID vote for President Trump. They had their march on Election Day and these women count too, as citizens of this country. Which if you are - results in Donald Trump being your president no matter what.
posted by: robn on January 22, 2017 4:54pm
We have considered those other women and a simple conclusion is that any woman who would ignore the vile disrespect, discrimination, and objectification Trump has not only exhibited towards women but bragged about, those ignorant women who voted for him are traitors to their own mother, sisters, and daughters.
These pussy protesters are nothing but a bunch of sore loser White women who supported Hillary. Paul Bass didn’t post one picture of an African American woman wearing one of those atrocious looking pink foot warmers. Black women clearly have better fashion sense than White women.
posted by: robn on January 22, 2017 7:41pm
What you wrote is false. Women’s inflation adjusted wages have risen under Obama.
posted by: Bill Saunders on January 22, 2017 8:55pm
Out today, running into an old female friend, I get yelled at even though I was on same side of the argument.
The biggest problem with the women’s body right’s issue is actually women themselves…. the idea of pro- choice is pretty close in the polls, among both women and men, not unlike the election outcome.
Half of the allies in this debate are men, so be careful about who you ostracize…..don’t blow the platform.
posted by: Bill Saunders on January 22, 2017 8:58pm
Of course, the ‘you’ used in my comment is the ‘global you’, not you in particular.
Women who voted for Trump are indeed Traitors, and the Real Women need to vocalize and recognize that in their play for unity… let’s cut through the BS.
posted by: Brutus2011 on January 22, 2017 10:21pm
Those who defend Trumkkkp by saying he won fair and square and give him a chance are making a grave error, imho.
I believe Trumkkkp is a fascist ... a Neo-Nazi .... a traitor ....
and I am not going to be polite anymore ....
the stakes are too high ... for all of us ... including those who swallowed his propaganda hook, line and sinker ...
Look at what he is doing with the press ...
posted by: OES on January 23, 2017 7:11am
By looking at these pictures, you would be left to believe that the only people at the March were white people. As someone who attended the March in D.C. that wasn’t the case. Wish NHI had shared more crowd photos to truly capture the diversity of the crowd. As a person of color, it’s important for us to have our voices heard and faces seen. NHI missed the mark here.
From a purely anatomical standpoint, those hats look more like they were made to celebrate breast cancer awareness month. If you do a Google image search of “les navettes de Marseilles”, it seems to me that it would have been more appropriate to bake millions of these and offer them for people to, um, “grab” one. Although these cookies traditionally are baked for the Christian feast of Candlemas on Feb. 2 (aka Chandeleur aka Candelaria), I suspect few of the march’s participants would be aware of the cultural error had they offered them in January.
posted by: wendy1 on January 23, 2017 8:50am
It feels like the 60’s again and I am glad. People should crowd the streets every weekend of every town and city until we get rid of the “insane clown president” and his evil ship of fools. I hope we can save ourselves. I am proud to know many of the people who traveled quite far to show their colors and fight for their country. This includes my sister who has turned into a righteous lefty and some of my old co-workers at Yale. Semper Fi.
posted by: alphabravocharlie on January 23, 2017 11:44am
That photo of Rosa is disturbing.
posted by: Rich Pizzo on January 23, 2017 12:01pm
I have attended many of the local rallies that are reacting to the last election, including the Capital Building in Hartford. I watched and I have listened to those who are very articulate and those who had trouble vocalizing their points… There was a diversity of people, and a diversity of expressed issues and very valid points. What was absent, in my opinion, was a unifying principle, a unifying focus, at least an expression that all could agree was their complaint and intent…. I am writing here, now, to offer that unifying principle.
Basically it is RESISTANCE, against the antisocials
I use the word “antisocials” in the psycho/social pathological sense…
All of the complaints, all of the issues are valid and caused by antisocial personality disordered people in government office, and their supporters….
again, in a nut shell the unifying principle is
Socials Unite, against the antisocials… Ω
posted by: westville man on January 23, 2017 12:50pm
alphabravocharlie- LOL! Thanks for that- i needed a good laugh on Monday!