Pink Hat Power – (Left to Right) Sarah Portnoy, Nisa Kove, Jill Epstein, Amanda Blake, Gabrielle Rivera Weissman, Jill Bryman, and Sylvia Wilson.
by Melanie Camp.
January 20th, 2017. Inauguration Day.
While some Democrats have planned a boycott, a fierce contingent of local woman have trekked to Washington D.C. to make a stand for civil rights and equality. Others who can’t get to D.C. will join the many Inauguration protesters in Downtown Los Angeles.
President-elect, Donald Trump’s campaign has been labeled “unconventional.” The outcome, unexpected. When a leaked recording had the world listening to Trump telling NBC TV host Billy Bush that when you’re a star woman let you do anything, even, “grab them by the p*ssy,” Bush lost his job. Trump went on to win the election. However, Trump’s self-professed genitalia grabbing antics did rub many up the wrong way, and as a result, you can expect a lot of pink beanies at this year’s inauguration day protests.
Political Organizer and Venice activist Nisa Kove who traveled to D.C. on Wednesday said her mother had wanted to go to the march but wasn’t able to, so instead, she knitted the group hats. “This was her gift,” said Kove of the pink hats on the heads of her friends. “It’s a national project that someone started so that there would be a visual recognition of the women who are marching. So they wouldn’t be seen as supporters of Trump,” Kove explained.
Officially called PUSSYHATS, many attending the inauguration in protest will wear the hats to make the purpose of their presence clear. “It’s obviously playing off of his words, which some people are not fond of. Some people don’t like this project but other people say that it’s making a stand,” Kove added.
Jill Bryman is a local Mom who believes that by taking over Trump’s use of the word “p*ssy’ the movement has taken away his “power,” however, she is not a fan of the word itself.
“One thing that I don’t like is that the ‘p-word’ has become normal. I mean I still have a hard time having it roll off my tongue. It’s a word that grosses me out because I feel, as women, the vagina is a very powerful part of our body. I mean we all birthed our babies out of them,” said Bryman.
“Yes, we do have it, and you can’t touch it” Bryman added “I [just] don’t want my daughters saying it.”
Bryman’s daughters are the main reason she is going to D.C. to march she told Yo! Venice. Originally, she had balked at the cost of plane tickets and wasn’t sure she’d be able to make the trip. Then, her husband Gary surprised her saying he wanted her to go not just for herself, “I did this for our daughters,” he told her.
Attending the march on behalf of those who can’t, is the reason many of these local women decided they needed to be in D.C.
“It’s really important for me to go because my whole life is about making sure that people who aren’t otherwise seen are seen,” said Sylvia Wilson, who is a Staff Attorney for the County of Los Angeles.
“I feel that there are a lot of people who are marginalized; people of color, women, LGBT people, people with disabilities, who are not going to be supported by this administration. So, I’m going to stand up with so many others who are representing people who can’t go to the march, who can’t travel to D.C.,” said Wilson.
Wilson is also part of the organization Rise Above; a group of attorneys who act as a voice for marginalized groups. Wilson will attend workshops in D.C. that will outline what is needed to help protect marginalized groups if certain election promises stay true.
“After the march I’m going to do the work in helping people who are marginalized. Working on immigration, helping people who are going to be effected that way. Helping people of color; Black Lives Matter, coming back and helping that group as well, and giving them the information from the workshops and the conferences that I go to in D.C. so that they know what they can do here in LA to have a broader impact. Going to the march is fantastic, but it’s also about a broader message. What do you do after?” said Wilson.
While the woman traveled to D.C. as one group, within that group they all had their different reasons for going. Bryman will wear a pink hat, but she won’t be using the p-word.
Amongst the many protesting the inauguration, even though they are essentially on the same side, there are differing beliefs within the protest group.
“I think it’s natural. I think it’s healthy. It creates a conversation and it is important people are having these conversations, even if two people who are arguing the same points begin arguing with one another. I think it’s important that every word that’s communicated, between anyone talking about the subject now, is heard because it teaches us. There’s a lesson in that on how to move forward,” said Kove.
Amanda Blake, who runs Los Angeles-based fashion label Calder Blake, said her employees are like family and she has seen first hand “the fear they’ve been going through” as a result of some of Trump’s campaign rhetoric. “People are talking about trying to bring business back to LA and back to the United States but at the same time they’re scaring the people that are actually producing the goods in the United States,” she said.
Blake didn’t travel to D.C. instead; she will protest locally and join the Woman’s March Los Angeles on Saturday, January 21st. Joining a number of Westside families, Blake and her daughter will ride the Metro to Pershing Square. The idea is to stick together as a group so they can help look out for each other.
Sarah Portnoy is an Assistant Professor of teaching at USC, and she said she hadn’t considered the safety issues that may come up in D.C. “I’ve never been to a march this big. I guess given the rise in terrorism…but it didn’t occur to me to think that way. So, I don’t want to be scared. I’m just excited to be a part of this historic day and to be able to get together with friends of mine from all around the country who are coming in and converging on D.C. to be able to be there as women and representatives of oppressed voices,” she said.
While those who oppose the protests and see them as pointless, now the election is done and dusted; Portnoy believes otherwise. “It’s our duty and our moral obligation to stand up for other voices,” she said.
For more information on the Woman’s March Los Angeles head online, womensmarchla.org.