MIDTOWN, NEW YORK—On Monday afternoon, a growing crowd of mostly women gathered for the New York arm of the Women & Allies Nationwide Protest & Strikeout, a daylong strike and spending boycott organized by 68-year-old Ann Massaro and NYU senior Isabella Gutierrez.
Vagina Monologues playwright Eve Ensler spoke first, highlighting Trump’s recent appointments. “He is choosing a racist to head the Department of Justice!” she yelled. (“Hell no!” someone screamed back.) “The White House will be the Predator House, led by the Predator-in-Chief filled with his predator friends!”
Holding signs like “Donald Trump is dangerous—vote him out!” and “He’s the Swamp,” the crowd listened quietly as poets Gina Loring, Aja Monet, and Jaha Zainabu read their work. “I am a woman carrying other women in my mouth. Behold, a sister, a daughter, a mother, dear friend,” Monet chanted. “Listen for us in the saying of a name you cannot pronounce, ‘black’ and ‘woman’ is a sort of magic you cannot hashtag, the mere weight of it too vast to be held.”
“I’m protesting for my rights as a woman of color,” Edith, a 25-year-old freelance photographer, told Jezebel. “I feel really scared for myself. Every little bit that I can do to get my voice heard will at least give me peace of mind.”
Passersby gawked, armed with shopping bags. “Come and join us, gentlemen, this is your future,” a woman next to me clucked. Elizabeth, 74, has been protesting “all my life”; she told Jezebel that her family was persecuted during the McCarthy era.
“It’s clear that there’s a complete disregard for the democratic system, and we’ll be seeing ‘Oh, I don’t need to do this,’ and ‘That doesn’t matter,’” she said. A blonde woman leaned over the guardrail to yell, “Better than killin’ babies!”
“I’m also very worried about the climate of hate,” Elizabeth continued, raising her eyebrows.
In addition to fostering solidarity, another focus of this protest appeared to be the slightly less straightforward aim of somehow convincing 37 Republican electors to defect when the Electoral College meets on December 19. That so many people seem to be clinging to this plan speaks to the scattered, shocked desperation that colors this particular moment in time—particularly considering that should it occur, it’s overwhelmingly unlikely to achieve the desired de-Trumping. (And unless it gets dismantled in the process, challenging the Electoral College in this particular way could also leave us with the dangerous precedent of electors trying to independently decide who gets to be president.)
“I think we’re here basically to speak to the electorates, to say that there is time to change their mind,” Ensler told Jezebel, referring to the electors. “I think what we really have to do is build a resistance, build a growing movement that is not accepting Trump, not normalizing Trump.”
After the speakers finished, members of the crowd chastised a group of communists who’d briefly coopted the rally for their own very loud purposes, armed with a megaphone, a drum, “America was NEVER Great!” signs and Che Guevara-style t-shirts featuring Revolutionary Communist Party founder Bob Avakian. The women quieted briefly, but stayed on. As the protest moved towards Trump Tower, the crowd’s front section marched to the beat of their drum.