by Isabel Salcedo, Public Communications/CDAE major at the University of Vermont.
October 19th 2016: a nasty day for many women that shall live in infamy. As the third and final presidential debate was coming to a close, Donald Trump uttered a phrase that many will never forget. As Clinton was giving her response to a question about social security, she took a dig at Trump. After mentioning that by increasing taxes on the wealthy, her own Social Security contributions would also rise, along with those of her opponent, essentially adding the comment: “assuming he can’t figure out how to get out of it.” Trump immediately retorted with “Such a nasty woman” muttering it to himself into his microphone (Woolf 2016). Trump uttered this infamous phrase less than an hour after telling American voters that no one has more respect for women than he does (Ross 2016). Clinton was unfazed, the media and the public on the other hand, were not. The response was instantaneous on social media, specifically Twitter, and created a lot of rage, which eventually turned into pride, in many people. The phrase influenced memes, popular culture, books and magazines, theater and concert productions, and most notably art exhibits (Wikipedia 2017). This quick, harsh insult at Clinton took the feminist community by storm, turning this crude remark into a brag. “If Hillary Clinton, in all of her accomplished, ambitious, badassery is considered “nasty,” why shouldn’t women say f*** it and embrace the label.” said one female commentator, speaking for many on the topic (Gray 2016).
This dismissive remark at Clinton truly took off shortly after its debut, resulting from a reaction to the unforeseen turn of events in U.s. politics we have been, and continue to experience today (Thompson 2017). Women decided enough is enough, especially from Trump, and proudly turned this insult into a badge (Gray 2016). As Senator Elizabeth Warren said: “Nasty women are tough. Nasty women are smart. And nasty women vote,” she said. “We nasty women are going to march our nasty feet to cast our nasty votes to get you out of our lives forever.” (Megerian 2016). This came to be known as a rallying cry throughout the women’s march and women’s rights movement as a whole, assimilating with both group’s goals. “The Nasty Women Movement spawned from women coming together to battle injustice and inequality personally, professionally and socially. The movement champions intersectionality, the LGBTQ+ community and religious freedoms.” (Chan 2017). The comment became so much more than a snide remark from Trump, it became a movement. With the help of many celebrities also adopting the term and wearing it on pins, necklaces, and T-shirts, it gained mass media attention. This eventually turned into a huge area of funding helping contribute to the Planned Parenthood organization. The money raised is also another stab at Trump by trying to gain back funding from his pro-life agenda to cut funding from Planned Parenthood. This organization provides primarily women’s healthcare and abortion services to women and many communities all over the nation (Wikipedia 2017).
The #NastyWomen movement also had a huge impact on the art community. Hundreds to thousands of women stepped up and created female empowerment art pieces that were eventually collected and created into an exhibition in New York City. “The exhibitions can focus grassroots rage into something politically significant” the curator of the show says, she hopes more people will begin experimenting because of this movement as well (Thompson 2017). Protest art began to emerge shortly thereafter. “Art is my weapon of choice in this fight…” one female artist said about the show (Thompson 2017). As a young female student living in our American society, this movement was very motivating and empowering for me. I was truly inspired and proud of the hundreds of thousands of women that bound together and spoke up to fight back against our potential president and government. This movement is very reflective of our generation wanting share ideas and express ourselves. The nature of politics and campaigning has completely changed, and with that, the people voting also change with the times. The power of social media today can turn something so minor and so simple (a rude comment in a debate) into a culture of strong, powerful, enraged women, motivated to make changes to the system that they want to see improvements in.