Interview: Amanda Duarte, Co-Creator of "Pussy Grabs Back"
The Election Edition
Amanda Duarte is quite the woman about town! As a writer, director, performer, and storyteller she has been helping to shape the culture of NYC for over a decade. As an activist, she has exploded onto the political scene with her “Pussy Grabs Back” slogan/branding and her support of Hillary Clinton, Planned Parenthood, and all causes that help to lift women! Amanda is fierce as fuck, and BanterGirl had the privilege of sitting down with her to talk about this past election season, and her hopes for the future of this country.
How are you feeling about the 2016 election results?
Devastated. Despondent. Depressed. Enraged.
Where were you on election night, and when did you know that Hillary had lost? How did you respond?
I was on the rooftop of a building directly across from the Empire State Building. My husband's company projected the returns and results on the south side. I realized pretty early that the returns didn't look good. When we lost Florida, I was pretty sure it was over. I ran down into the street and had a panic attack, then took a cab home and didn't sleep for five days. It felt as if I'd teleported into a parallel universe, like the Upside Down. I kept feeling surprised that the physical touchstones of my life still existed—that my cat was still in my apartment, that the people I know and love didn't just vanish overnight, that objects still had gravity.
The next night, I hosted a fundraiser for a dear friend of mine who is fighting cancer. Over 100 people came together at Judson Memorial Church to cry, laugh, dance, and lay hands upon this dear woman. It was incredibly healing to be together, to remember that we are all still here, and to take concrete action toward making something better, making someone better.
What are the main things that concern you about a Donald Trump presidency?
On a large scale, the loss of democracy and the conversion of the United States government into an autocracy. The unchecked power of the Republican Party, which is the most dangerous and organized hate group in modern history and whose end goal is the destruction of human life as we currently know it.
On a human scale, the deportation of my friends and neighbors and the unraveling of families and communities. The harrowing personal and societal damage that is the inevitable result of the restriction of reproductive rights. The legitimization of sexual assault, and the fear that women will be less inclined to report their assaults now more than ever. The criminalization of the love, families and lives of my LGBTQ friends and chosen family. The escalation of hate crimes. The legitimization and empowerment of police brutality. I could go on and on. There's nothing good about this. Nothing.
Do you think Donald Trump has any redeeming qualities that could benefit the progress of this country in any way?
Only, perhaps, that he is the grotesque embodiment of toxic masculinity and patriarchy, and that his inevitable spectacular failure could lead to their ultimate and final collapse.
During the campaign season you started a movement with your "Pussy Grabs Back" slogan. Did you have any idea that it was going to explode the way that it did?
No. It was and continues to be a revelation. People keep sending me pictures and videos of the slogan on signs, on torsos, and being chanted in protests around the world. It's mind-blowing. I truly hope that it continues to empower people. Pussy needs to grab back now more than ever.
After your slogan went viral, many people started copying your brand and printing their own merchandise. Did you learn anything from this experience?
Ha! I learned a whole lot about how to write a DMCA takedown letter, and where to send it! Every day, new thieves pop up, and we have to send the letters. It's exhausting. It's unbelievable, the idea that people would not only steal intellectual property and profit from it, but that they would also by doing so directly siphon money away from rape and abuse victims (proceeds from the licensed t-shirts benefit RAINN). And they need support and services now more than ever, what with our having a proud sexual assailant in the White House and all.
What can the American people do to show the world that they do not stand for normalizing the kind of behavior that Trump endorses?
Keep making noise, keep being visible, keep your body and voice in the fight. Protect vulnerable friends, family and strangers with your body and your voice. Radicalize your vulnerabilities. Reclaim hate speech. Take political action. Call and write your representatives, as well as the few moderate Republicans in the Senate, urging them to block his hateful and damaging agenda. Remember that we are the majority, that we are the same people we were before, that we have the same values and power, and that we are still here.
What would you like to see Hillary Clinton do with the rest of her political career?
Lead a civil war between America and Pantsuit Nation, settle Pantsuit Nation on the coasts, and be our leader. Failing that, I want her mind in this fight. She knows the system better than anyone, and I want her working with our progressive leaders to help mitigate the damage of the incoming administration and lead the way to the midterms and 2020.
What are your hopes for the future of the USA?
I hope that, like Gloria Steinem said, this is truly the last violent outburst of an abuser just as the abused is about to make her escape. America really is an abused woman in so many ways, and the corrupt election by a very small minority of a woman-hating fascist to control her really writes the situation large. I desperately hope that she knows how strong she is, how powerful she is, and how close she is to being free—and that she fights now harder than ever. The numbers and shifting demographics are in our favor. We are powerful. We are the majority. These next four years are going to be incredibly bleak. Those of us who survive them must not give up. I believe that the backlash from these four horrible years will be sharp, and that the future after them will be brighter than ever, but only if we make it so. The moral arc of the universe bends toward justice only if we FUCKING BEND IT.