Pussyhats as a Trope

     Two women from the same knitting circle, with a shared passion for women’s rights, started the Pussyhat Project to solve both a need to stay warm during the Women’s March in Washington D.C., which occurred on January 21, 2017, and to create a sense of solidarity for those in attendance at the march or for those who were unable to attend. They imagined a sea of pink hats, created by individuals of all skill levels, that would visually represent  the meaning of the march. The name of the hat was given in part of the crude language used by President Trump in the tapes released of him describing his freedom to sexually assault women, and to draw attention to the ‘cat ear’ feature of the design. Today, the Pussyhat has become “a symbol of support and solidarity for women’s rights and political resistance” (“Pussyhat”).

“The March,” Abigail Gray Swartz, 2017 (Mouly)

     The first example is from an article and cover done by The New Yorker magazine; it features artwork sent in by a reader, Abigail Gray Swartz, who participated in the Women’s March in Augusta, Maine and was inspired by the movement to create the painting. The work shows an African American woman in the same pose, wearing the same shirt as the famous poster of Rosie the Riveter. Instead of a bright red, polka dot handkerchief tied around the woman’s head, like the one Rosie wore, she has on a pink-knit Pussyhat, just like the ones that thousands of women wore across the world during the Women’s March. Additionally, the background of the piece wears the same yellow as the original poster and The New Yorker also matched the blue for the banner and kept the text white in the cover’s design, to further mimic the poster of Rosie.

     The original poster of Rosie the Riveter has assumed an identity of female empowerment and ability, especially in regards to the desired equality of women in the workplace, which feminists in the 80s utilized to help push their agenda in a non-confrontational, safe way (Meyers). The artist’s use of an African American woman, in place of Rosie — a white, attractive, supposedly middle-class woman, speaks to the inclusivity and diversity of the Women’s March and Pussyhat movement. Here the depiction of the hat is being used in a similar fashion as the original poster: to symbolize support for women’s rights, to empower women to take a stance, to express resistance in the face of adversity, and to embody societal change, along with much else.

Pussyhat, Daryl Cagle, 2017 (Daryl)


     The next example comes from Daryl Cagle, a cartoonist whose work has been featured in newspaper editorial cartoons and column worldwide. He states in his blog, “Since liberty and Justice are the most important women in government, they should march with Pussyhats too” (Daryl). His drawing features a cartoon-style Statue of Liberty and Lady Justice walking together with linked arms. Perched on top of Lady Liberty’s head, with her crown poking through, is a pink-knit Pussyhat. Similarly, Lady Justice is wearing one as well, which is pulled over her eyes, in place of her iconic blindfold. As it is known world-wide, the Statue of Liberty symbolizes freedom and democracy and Lady Justice represents morality in the justice system.


      In this illustration, the presence of the Pusshats take on a slightly different meaning than in the first example. Instead of acting as a source of empowerment and solidarity for women partaking in the Women’s March, Daryl’s drawing comments on the politically charged meaning of the hat. Many women within the United States, and around the world, attended the Women’s March to protest the recent election of President Trump, his misogynistic rhetoric, and to protect their rights as women. Moreover, a large portion of the conversation of the march was dedicated to defending women’s reproductive rights. This depiction of Lady Liberty and Lady Justice wearing Pussyhats represents that the women in government are in support of the movement and will not tolerate the suppression or mistreatment of women and minority groups.    


Getty Images, Jacopo Raule, 2017 (Medina)

     A third example comes fromthe Milan fashion week in 2017, where designer Angela Missoni ended her show with all of the models walking the runway wearing Pussyhats. Additionally, a hat was gifted to every individual in the audience to wear in solidarity with the Women’s March and in protest of the election of President Trump. The hats worn by the models shown in the image are very similar to those created by the founders of the Pussyhat movement; although, they feature an array of colors at the base and are cohesive with Missoni’s collection.

     Missoni included the hats in her show to spread a “message of solidarity with diversity, body diversity and women’s rights” (Jenkins) and it was considered a protest collection that “celebrate[s] femininity, individuality, and to celebrate the woman” (Jenkins).

     Similar to the previous examples, the use of the Pussyhat during the fashion show are to represent the solidarity of women worldwide, especially in response to the hateful, racist, and misogynistic speech of the newly elected president. Overall, the Pussyhat has become an easily recognizable symbol, worldwide, of the resistance towards the current president and the solidarity of women in their fight to protect their rights.



Works Cited

Jenkins, Aric. “Milan Fashion Week

: Missoni Models Wear Pussy Hats.” Time, Time, 25 Feb. 2017, time.com/4682936/missoni-pussy-hat-milan-fashion-week-2017/.

Medina, Miguel. “Models Wearing PinkHats Walk the Runway at the End of the Show for…” Getty Images, www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/models-wearing-pink-hats-walk-the-runway-at-the-end-of-the-news-photo/645242124.

Mouly, and Mouly. “Cover Story: Abigail Gray Swartz’s ‘The March.’” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 9 Nov. 2018, www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/cover-story-2017-02-06.

Myers, Sarah, et al. “How the Famous ‘Rosie the Riveter’ Poster Became a Symbol of Female Empowerment.” Quartz, Quartz, 30 May 2018, qz.com/work/1292626/how-the-famous-rosie-the-riveter-poster-became-a-symbol-of-female-empowerment/.

“PUSSYHAT PROJECT™.” PUSSYHAT PROJECT™, www.pussyhatproject.com/.

“Pussyhats.” DarylCagle.com, darylcagle.com/2017/01/20/pussyhats/.