'We Need to Do More': Three Generations of Women on Why They're Protesting Trump
Photographer Jessica Bal documented the "Pussy Power" protest outside of Trump Tower, then visited several protesters at home to find out why publicly opposing Trump is so important to them.
All this racism, all this discrimination, it really has been painful. I cannot vote. I am not a citizen. But I can protest. And since I didn't have a babysitter, I decided to bring my daughter with me. I explained to her that there is somebody who is running for president who hasn't been respectful with women and with Mexicans, so we have to defend ourselves.
She said, "Okay, I'm gonna wear my Supergirl costume. I'm gonna defend myself, and I'm gonna defend all the girls around to stop this guy."
–Susana Cabrera, 45, and daughter Carlota, 5
I'm a first generation immigrant. My family came here for the American dream.
I was always taught to believe that America is great. America is going to give you everything. I feel like Donald Trump has shown me that the America that I love maybe isn't the America that I love. This isn't the America that my family fought to be here for, that many people abandon everything to be here for.
Different is good. Everyone deserves equality. Everyone deserves a chance. Everyone deserves to be an American if they want to be. I mean, after this election, how many people want to be an American now?
–Lesley Fernandez, 18
I guess [Trump] didn't know that we're pussies that haven't been declawed. We're scratching back now and that's the important thing. We have to be a collective.
I was glad to see there were young women, because I don't want to die without knowing the next group of women is going to take over. We need young, nasty women too. It used to be the sort of thing where you couldn't get a date if you were nasty, but now, alright, so you don't get a date. You get something else. You get a voice.
–Sybil Sage, 74
His comments were me when I was 15 years old working in a restaurant being cornered in the walk-in freezer. Or the times that I've had my job threatened because I wouldn't sleep with someone, or when I've had my life threatened because I wouldn't go out with someone.
I've never been one to back down to pressure from men, but it doesn't mean I haven't suffered at the hands of their attempting. I want her to learn to use her voice. I think women need to learn how to take up space and own that space, and one way of doing that is to use your voice in a loud way. We're so often trained to be quiet and told to be unobtrusive and small.
–Meilan Smith, 42, and daughter Remy Freda, 11
I do a lot of Black Lives Matter activism. I thought it was important to show solidarity, and I feel like feminists need to rally around making sure Trump does not get any sort of vote. He is just the embodiment of Jim Crow, of stereotypes, of slavery, of every sort of violent, every sort of homophobic, every sort of scary remnant of American nostalgic past. We need to get rid of that. We need to eradicate that. We need to do more than just not vote for Donald Trump.
I feel like this wave of feminism is really important for us to make sure we are super reflective of our diversity as women, in all shapes, sizes, colors, genders. There is a hard spirit of revolution in the air right now, of activism. It's your duty to not only go out and protest. It is your duty to use whatever gift you have to do something about it.
–Loris Jones-Randolph, 27
The first time that I was ever touched inappropriately was when I was her age by another boy in school. It's unfortunate that we have this election cycle, but I think it's always good to be able to have an occasion to talk to our kids about these things.
I was really interested in bringing her into that space of women's empowerment and women protesting. I remember doing that with my mom. We went to pro-choice rallies, and that was in the mid-to-late 1980s. But at the same time, I just can't imagine that we're in a place where this is what has to spark these conversations. Sometimes it's just scary.
–Jennifer Hughes, 44, and daughter Vivian, 13
What's disturbing and why it's so upsetting to hear these comments isn't because of the comments themselves. It's the moment right after the comment when the person who [Trump] was just talking about is there with him and he's being cordial and somewhat respectful. That's what women fear: this idea that the men in our lives who we work with and live with and love are doing this "locker room talk" thing behind our backs.
Whatever this movement is of Pussy Power at Trump Tower, it's not done when he loses the election. We've got a long way to go. It's time for the old ideas to crumble, and that's going to upset some people while it happens.
–Liz Wagner Biro, 27
I think the interesting thing about Trump is that now instead of just having white women talking about reproductive rights and Mexicans talking about immigration rights and black people talking about social justice and Black Lives Matter, you see all of these groups coming together. We feel like we're bound together against this one person who represents many of the ills of this country. He represents many people in this country who feel that way.
–Nicole Moore, 45 (left) of Lady Parts Justice
If the election happens and he doesn't get elected, some people might think, "Whew, we dodged a bullet." But right now, those bullets are in our state houses already enacting laws. We need to pay attention to bullets passing legislation who have been doing it for decades. Ever since Roe v. Wade, they've been making concrete steps toward restricting access to abortion and autonomy of your own body.
–Molly Gaebe, 31 (middle) of Lady Parts Justice
Those people and those sexist, misogynist, racist thoughts, they're not going to go anywhere. I think they're going to stay amplified, and I think it's going to be very difficult. On the flip side, what Pussy Power has done and what these social media movements have done is that our voices have been amplified, too. People can't say that sexism doesn't exist, that racism doesn't exist, that homophobia doesn't exist. At least these things are coming to light so we can finally, hopefully move past them. It feels like it's a long battle ahead but one that we can certainly win.
–Lorne Batman, 25 (right) of Lady Parts Justice
Early in my career, I was a rape crisis advocate. I've held hands during therapy, during abortion procedures, during rape kits. One thing that always chaps at me a little bit is when you see the pervasive impact of stigma. That's present in how we've been talking about women in this campaign, about the types of women that might experience a sexual assault or a trauma and the types that wouldn't: If she's smart enough, if she's good enough, if she's whatever enough.
It's these ideas about what women are supposed to be and how deserving that makes them of basic fundamental rights. And these are basic fundamental rights. You don't earn them by value of your actions or beliefs. They're yours.
–Carrie Watters, 38
As someone who has been a victim of sexual assault, it feels very personal and very urgent to not allow someone like that to be anywhere near public office. A lot of us have never been able to look our attackers in the face or to express our rage at the person who violated us.
Women's issues are starting to actually be on the table. Having a provocateur in the political arena at least takes us somewhere different than where we are and moves us from the status quo. The question is what do we do with that and how do we combat that? And how do we bring that out into the sunlight and call it out for what it is?
My hope is that it mobilizes. It turns into something real. It turns into something undeniable and a force to be reckoned with.
–Maria Becker, 26