Why the Women's March on Washington was the perfect way to needle Donald Trump

For all that Trump fancies himself a master of spectacle, he lost this round, and he knows it

The Women's March on Washington.
(Image credit: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Protests invite generalizations, and I was about to irresponsibly philosophize about what Saturday's historic Women's March means — specifically, what it teaches us about American self-portraiture — when I stumbled on this photograph of the new president and his wife. Surrounded by a truly unreasonable number of roses at the inaugural luncheon on Jan. 20 — a day that ought to have brought them some joy — they look the very picture of unhappiness. This is Adam and Eve sulking outside of Eden. This is every marriage gone wrong, every midlife crisis, every spiritual void that leads a soul to snatch something they'll wake up in the night regretting.

So I stopped short, because that image with its blue dress and red tie crystallized so much of what happened in America this weekend. It provoked the crowds of people in red hats who gathered in Washington, D.C., one day and the crowds of people in pink hats who gathered there — and all over the country and the world — the next. Is there anything true worth saying about a country that produced both those spectacles and this portrait of a man and a woman caught off guard, slathered in wealth, their misery on exhausted display in a rare moment when they forgot about the cameras?

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us
Lili Loofbourow

Lili Loofbourow is the culture critic at TheWeek.com. She's also a special correspondent for the Los Angeles Review of Books and an editor for Beyond Criticism, a Bloomsbury Academic series dedicated to formally experimental criticism. Her writing has appeared in a variety of venues including The Guardian, Salon, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and Slate.