It’s 7:50 in the morning, and eight news trucks, four cameras, three cops, two bored-looking local news reporters, and one miscellaneous thick-limbed man in a suit that runs too tight across the chest and shoulders are clustered around the entrance of Trump Tower on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. A block away, the sound of a crowd of female voices shouting swells as it approaches.
Clad in all black, 100 women (and a handful of men) hoist signs that range from straightforward, vintage second wave—“Keep Your LAWS off my BODY!”— to full-on in-your-face third wave—”Grab my pussy Muhf**ka I dare you.” The protesters range in age to barely-beyond-teenagers to college professor types who appear to be in their 60’s.
Fifteen similar #GOPHandsOff protests are taking place today in front of various Trump campaign headquarters around the country. Yong Jung Cho, who helped organize the protest in New York, tells The Daily Beast that those gathered came together organically, that organizing began on the Tuesday after a 2005 recording of Donald Trump bragging to Billy Bush about how easy it is for him to commit sexual assault surfaced.
On one hand, this shows just how many women were offended enough by an Access Hollywood episode—the one that will ever be of any historical consequence—to follow a dress code, make signs, and register their discontent in a public protest. On the other, it serves as a reminder of just how far-reaching Trump’s brand is, of how successful he became despite a decades-long trail of public misogyny. Even though he’s flagging in the polls, around 40 percent of the country still supports him, including many GOP leaders who have condemned his comments but refused to disavow the candidate.
The women march in orderly rows to the entrance of the building, chanting “GOP, hands off me!” and “If Trump thinks he runs this town, pussy came to shut it down.” They sit right in front of the entrance to Trump Tower, adjusting their signs so the media gathered to witness can get clearer shots of their mostly homemade creations, some of which were thoughtfully pre-censored. (A yellow “Don’t Tread On My Pussy” sign is not.) Pre-protest materials noted the crowd would be blocking the entrance of the building where Trump and his family live in garish luxury, but people are still going in and out.
Bystanders gather to peer at the commotion. One man, who looks almost exactly like late comedian Bill Hicks if Bill Hicks gained about 50 pounds and replaced his Georgia drawl with a Staten Island chip on his shoulder, leans against the police blockades. “What, are you for him? Are you against him?” he barks at women sitting on the periphery of the group.
One woman responds to his first question before returning her attention to the series of speakers and performers addressing the media. They’re diverse in age, race, and even national origin. One sings, one tells a story of her mother, one talks about her daughter. They’re not second or third or even fourth wave. This is the Trump wave of feminism.
The man is undaunted. “I’m for Trump,” he said, to nobody in particular. “I’m with him.”
The speakers, many of whom refer to their own sexual assaults, demand that GOP leaders unendorse Donald Trump before the third presidential debate Wednesday. The gathered protesters cheer supportively. A woman adjusts her sign that reads “F**K YOU, CHEETO VOLDEMORT” so it’s easier to photograph.
The bizarro Bill Hicks Trump supporter seems bothered they aren’t paying attention to him. Theatrically hoisting his cell phone, he begins filming, walking close behind the back row as an unlit cigarette dangles from his mouth. He stands close to them, looms over them. His attempted intimidation is met with indifference.
Frustrated, he gives up up, shaking his head and muttering to himself as he and his unlit cigarette make their way up Fifth Avenue.
The protest concludes with an a cappella rendition of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come,” and the women stand, resume chanting, and march north to the stairs in front of the Apple store. A cab driver honks appreciatively and gives the women a thumbs up. They stand in a circle holding hands as one organizer congratulates them on an “awesome, awesome job.” Another collects pans and wooden spoons. “Make sure you hug somebody today,” says the organizer.
Everybody hugs and parts ways, but if these women are still pissed off in 24 hours, they needn’t be apart for long. This was the first of two female-driven pussy-themed protests slated to take place in front of Trump Tower New York this week. The next one, organized by a different group, is tomorrow.