Hillary Clinton lost the election. White House photo ops feature white male suits, even when the bill that’s being signed deals with women’s reproductive rights. Our president once said on tape that he enjoys grabbing women’s female parts.
A dark day for womankind has indeed arrived. Thank goodness there is much evidence that no one’s going to keep us down.
It started, the day after the inauguration, with the Women’s March on Washington. Something like 500,000 people attended, dwarfing the inaugural crowds. This prompted the president to launch a campaign to discredit the numbers reported for his inauguration, despite the fact that photos prove the point.
Women and their allies gathered not only in Washington, but around the country and the world on Jan. 21. It was an amazing, and heartening, spectacle.
We now have a new slogan, thanks to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky. When he shut down Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on the floor of that august body after warning her to desist, he said: “Nevertheless, she persisted.” In doing what? Why, in reading a letter that Coretta Scott King wrote in 1986, in which Mrs. King asked that the Senate reject the nomination of Jeff Sessions of Alabama to a federal judgeship. “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters,” King wrote of Sessions’ tenure as a federal prosecutor.
Warren was trying to read that letter while arguing against the appointment of Sessions, a U.S. senator, to President Donald Trump’s Cabinet.
Now, there is a rule, which is erratically applied, that prevents senators from disparaging their fellows. However, Sessions was under consideration for the post of attorney general, and the letter from Mrs. King could not even be considered a harangue.
McConnell’s heavy-handedness backfired. Warren immediately became even more of a heroine to those of us on the left than she already was. McConnell’s complaint that “nevertheless, she persisted” sounds like something Charlotte Bronte would have written. Nevertheless, it has transcended the centuries and now can be found on T-shirts with an image of Rosie the Riveter.
Humor helps get us through the hard times. I remember avidly reading the comic strip “Doonesbury” during the Watergate crisis. Currently, “Saturday Night Live” is providing hysterical comic relief in the form of impersonations of Trump and friends.
Alec Baldwin has been doing a petulant, pouting impression of the president since the campaign. More recently, he’s been joined by advisor Steve Bannon, portrayed as the Grim Reaper; Melissa McCarthy as press secretary Sean Spicer; and Kate McKinnon as Sessions. Last weekend’s show also featured a skit in which Leslie Jones, a woman of color, tried to convince producer Lorne Michaels to let her impersonate Trump on the show.
Casting women in the roles of men was a brilliant idea.
“President Trump was reportedly bothered by Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of Sean Spicer a week ago on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ Not so much because it was over-the-top, mind you, but because a woman played Spicer,” Aaron Blake wrote in The Washington Post. Humor also can be used to draw in people who consider themselves apolitical. This concept confounds me, because everyone has to pay taxes, drive the speed limit and refrain from punching jerks in the nose. Who does the apolitical person think makes these laws?
Anyway, McCarthy’s hilarious send-ups of the pugnacious, rambling, gum-chewing Spicer have now brought him to the attention of millions of people who would never willingly watch a White House press conference. And the fact that she’s a woman playing a man made it all the funnier.
Finally, there is Melania Trump. I once dismissed her as a feather-brained Barbie doll, but now I feel sorry for her. And I admire her at the same time. The photo of her husband storming into the White House on Inauguration Day while President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama followed with Melania, each with a hand on her back, was disturbing. Trump is every bit the oaf that I imagined him to be.
It’s probably not surprising that Melania decided to stay in New York and not play the first lady role. I see this as an act of rebellion, and give her credit. Unfortunately, our country could use a strong first lady now, such as the one who just exited. Or Eleanor Roosevelt, to promote human rights; Jacqueline Kennedy, to endorse the arts; Nancy Reagan, to address the heroin epidemic.
But a woman with her own strong views would not last long beside President Trump. Which is why we who dare to be strong and strident must persist — nevertheless.
Liz Soares welcomes e-mail at [email protected]