I was born in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, the town where Mitt Romney has a summer home. I grew up here, went to school here, and return here often to visit my parents. The fourth of July parade occupies a small but significant piece of my heart; the town’s Precision Lawn Chair Drill Team is legendary. (Watch!)
This year Romney and dozens of his supporters marched in the parade.
If you are looking for a metaphor for Republicans’ desire to control the bodies of women, here’s a story for you. A few moments before Romney approached the part of the sidewalk where my sister and I were standing, we saw a group of young white men in Romney t-shirts giving us the once-over. My sister and I were standing silently, with crossed arms and disapproving faces.
To see one’s hometown used in this fashion is so sad. We wanted our sadness to be known. Such a small desire, no?
One young white man said to his companion, “We’re getting some intense looks over there.”
It was true. We wanted to quietly let Romney know that we, as women who grew up in this place he’s now colonized, did not appreciate his presence. We wanted to be seen not celebrating—to be seen mourning what feels to us a great misfortune.
But we weren’t allowed. The men in Romney shirts surrounded us. They blocked our dissenting faces with their bodies, and when we told them they couldn’t stand in front of us like that, one of them said we had to move back or the Secret Service would make us. No matter that we’d been standing in the very same spot for an hour, cheering for kids on unicycles and senior citizens twirling batons.
And so these female bodies, these bodies that wanted merely to be present, be recognized and counted as saying no, were hidden from the cameras, not allowed to gaze upon the body of the man about to approach.
I never got to see Mitt Romney. That’s okay. That’s very okay, but what I find deeply troubling is that he never got the chance to see me.