Increasingly, the GOP has become obsessed with controlling women’s bodies. On the eve of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, women fought back. One hundred women assembled early Sunday morning on July 17 across the river from the Quicken Loans Arena where the convention took place and bared it all in peaceful protest. As the sun rose, they stripped down and held up large mirror discs reflecting “the knowledge and wisdom of progressive women.” World-renowned photographer, Spencer Tunick, known for his large-scale nudes, said to the women, “We will shine your light and power onto the RNC. We’re going to shine the light of women into this arena.”
Tunick’s art installation Everything She Says Means Everything has been three years in the making, but the casting call began in May. Women were invited to submit statements explaining why they wanted to participate. Even though nudity is illegal in Ohio, more than 1,800 women volunteered, but only 100 were selected. Party affiliation did not matter, and not all of the motivations were political. But many of the women and the artist himself were prompted to act in response to recent offensive outbursts and attacks on women’s reproductive rights – including those by GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
One of the participants, Cathy Scott, said:
Donald Trump has said so many outrageous, hateful, inflammatory things. He underestimated his female, Republican vote. I feel like he shot himself in the foot a little bit. I don’t think he knows there’s a black, single, 35-year-old mom, like me, who is listening to what he’s saying. I don’t think he knows I’m in his political party—and that’s unfortunate.
Trump’s political rise has been riddled with misogynistic statements, and his vice presidential nominee, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, has gained national attention for his extreme anti-abortion stance. In 2007, Pence supported a bill to deny Planned Parenthood federal funding, and earlier this year, he signed one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the country, setting a trend for other states. Unsurprisingly, this attitude was included in the Republican Party Platform and was released last week during the convention. It stated, “We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide healthcare.” This is the first time the party has specifically attacked Planned Parenthood by name.
The organization’s executive vice president, Dawn Laguens, responded:
This isn’t just an attack on Planned Parenthood. It’s an attack on the millions of patients who rely on Planned Parenthood health centers each year for basic healthcare. It’s an attack on the brave doctors, clinicians, staff, and educators who have been facing down violent rhetoric and threats just to provide people with things like cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams.
Trump’s belligerent language and Pence’s extreme actions have fueled fear, anger and intolerance. But on a quiet Sunday morning, women from different walks of life and political affiliations came together for a beautiful, proud moment. They reflected women. They reflected the future we want.