At the very end of the last presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton last October, Trump interrupted Clinton to call her a “nasty woman.” I’m sure he didn’t know in the moment that those two words would become a female empowerment message and come back to haunt him. From signs at the Women’s March to t-shirts emblazoned in all caps to memes upon memes, “nasty woman” has been cropping up everywhere, with no signs of stopping.
But what does it mean to be a nasty woman? “Nasty” is a word that implies a certain amount of not giving a sh*t. It suggests that you do what you want to do; that you don’t act “nice” because you’re “supposed” to. It’s the opposite of traditional femininity, implying that you’re dirty and loud and — dare I say it? — sexual. It’s a word we use specifically to denigrate women who own their sexuality or celebrate the fact that they like to f*ck. A nasty woman is not quiet about her desires, be they sexual, political, or social.
The whole phrase has reminded me of a central tenant of my own feminism: The idea that the personal is political. It’s originally from the second wave feminist movement and was meant to highlight the fact that so much of what happens in our personal lives is directly related to the bigger social and political structures in which we exist.
It’s a reminder that when men like Trump call one of us “nasty,” they’re saying a lot more than the words coming out of their mouths. And it’s a reminder that we all can and should be standing up for our nastiness. So with that in mind, here are 11 ways you can keep being a nasty woman by making sure that the personal is, indeed, political.
1Call Your Representatives
Or keep calling your representatives. I know we’re all afraid of phones these days, but two things I’ve learned since January 20 are that, 1) phone calls are better than email when it comes to getting your representatives to take you seriously and, 2) phone calls work because they’re annoying AF. As David Pierce wrote in Wired, “calling your representatives seems to work precisely because it’s a pain in the ass.”
But if you’re really overwhelmed or freaked out by the idea of making a call, check out 5 Calls. It’s an app that gives you a list of at least five calls you can make per week, complete with a script and numbers for your reps. It’s so easy! Make your voice heard.
2Treat Yourself To An Expensive Sex Toy
You know what nasty women do? They masturbate. They masturbate because they know that self-pleasure is not only, well, pleasurable but also a stand against a system that wants us to believe that our bodies and our sexuality are not our own. So buy yourself an awesome, expensive sex toy.
3Find Or Start An Indivisible Group
Look, at lot of us are new to this political organizing thing. Some of us may have gotten out for Obama or Hillary or Bernie but a lot of people (especially those under the age of 30) have never had to actively oppose a current administration. I mean, I’ll be 30 this month and I was barely old enough to protest when the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started!
But you know what’s awesome? You don’t have to figure it out all on your own. Indivisible is a group that started as a Google Doc in December by former congressional staff members. They’ve grown so quickly that they’re now a nonprofit and they’re supporting groups around the country who are fighting Trump’s agenda. You can either search for a group in your city, or start one of your own if there isn’t one yet.
4Wear Whatever The F*ck You Want
Trump allegedly wants the women on his staff to “dress like a woman,” which, as Twitter not-so-gently reminded the world after those claims were leaked, is ludicrous. So, one way that you can be a nasty woman is by wearing whatever the f*ck you want. If that means you want to only wear booty shorts and a crop top, do it! Feel most comfortable in more masculine clothing or only in dresses or in hospital scrubs or full-on leather? DO YOU, BOO! Be defiant. Be fabulous. Rock glitter. Seriously — wear whatever the f*ck you want.
5Talk About Your Period
Trump told a crowd that it was “disgusting” that Clinton went to the bathroom during a commercial break during the third presidential debate last Fall. Oh, and of course there’s the comments he made about Megyn Kelly way back in August 2015 after the first GOP debate about “blood coming out of her wherever.” And he’s not the only one — period stigma is real.
But guess what? For a really large part of the population, periods are a monthly occurrence. There’s nothing inherently gross about periods — it’s just something our bodies do. So if you’re a person who has a period, stop hiding your tampon in your hand when you walk to the bathroom! Talk about your period! Treat it like the totally normal thing that it is. Nasty women know that our bodies’ natural functions are not nasty, just the way they are.
6Rock This Jewelry
One of the nastiest things a nasty woman do is visibly celebrate her sexuality. Women and femmes are told time and time again that we need to walk the invisible, impossible tightrope between sexy and virginal. There’s literally no way to win at that game, so I say stop playing it. Celebrate your sexuality however you see fit — but I’d like to recommend this jewelry collection from Unbound as one way to do it.
Unbound is an awesome, woman-run, woman-owned sex company that recently released their own jewelry collection. The collection celebrates three historical nasty women: Twiggy, Amelia Earhart, and Cleopatra. Each item is a piece of jewelry that’s lovely in its own right, but it hides a secret — it’s also a sex toy. For example, I love the Cleo Snake Nipple Clamps, which looks enough like a cute necklace that you could wear it to a family dinner and no one would be the wiser. Check out their other offerings but be forewarned: You’re going to want everything.
7Contact Your Friends In Swing States
You’ve probably seen the posts over the past couple of weeks asking friends who live in specific states to contact their representatives about specific issues. I’d like to suggest that you take that move one step further. Instead of just posting on your own wall about these issues, use Facebook Graph Search to figure out which of your friends live in the places that can have the most effect.
So, for example, if there are reports that a senator from Ohio is on the fence about an issue, type “friends who live in Ohio” into Graph Search and you’ll get a list of your Ohio-based friends. Then go directly to their wall (or message them, if you’re more comfortable with that) and ask them to call their representative about the issue in question. Provide the phone numbers they need, an article about why you feel the way you do about this issue, and even a script for easier calling if you want to be the most effective. If we’re going to make change, we have to make it as easy as possible for our allies to take action.
8Ask For What You Want In Bed
Every nasty woman knows that the personal is political so let’s get really personal for a second. Women are largely taught to be the passive partners in bed, so being upfront and clear about what you want from a sexual partner is an awesome, empowering, personal and political act. Shoot, so many of us aren’t even taught that sex should feel good! So take back that power and get that orgasm. Ask for what you want in bed. Trust me — it’s going to be great.
9Ask For A Raise At Work
Another very personal thing for a lot of us is money. And, as a result, it can be really hard to ask for a raise at your job. But if you’re kicking ass and you know it, you should be getting paid what you deserve! You’ll also be contributing to cutting down the wage gap, as research shows that women are significantly less likely to ask for a raise than men are.
"In a society, and in a work culture, where people’s value is being measured by how much they’re being paid, it is just very important to have that measure of your worth be there. As women, we don’t get taken seriously until we get taken seriously financially," businesswoman Cindy Gallop told Bustle in an interview last year. "Very simply put, if you do not ask for a raise, and if you do not ask for the most money you can possibly make in your job, you will not be valued."
10Be Unapologetic About Your Body
One way that society has kept women down for generations is through diet culture. When we obsess about how we look and how much we’re eating and whether we’re meeting this year’s impossible beauty standards, we don’t have the time or energy to care about other things. Things like taking political action and standing up to the many injustices that are going to be coming our way over the next four years.
“A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience,” Naomi Wolf wrote in The Beauty Myth. “Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one.”
11Take To The Streets
The Women’s March was an historic event, with hundreds of thousands marching in Washington and an estimated 3 million to 4 million people at marches worldwide. But if it was your first time marching, don’t let it be your last! Put your body out in public in support of the ideas you believe in and against those that you don’t. Show up for Black Lives Matter. Show up for A Day Without A Woman. Be loud; be public; don’t let them ignore you. We have the power to change the world with the most personal thing of all — our bodies.
Now go. Stand up, be counted, be as loud as you want to be. Talk about your period and own your sexuality. Show the world that nasty women don’t take bullsh*t lying down. Pussy grabs back, and you have yet to see just how nasty American women can be.