Notable Native: ‘Pantsuits to the Polls’ creator talks Clinton’s critics, women coming together


Courtesy Lisa Beth Anderson

Jessie Oliver started the Facebook page ‘Pantsuits to the Polls’ to take a stand against Donald Trump. 

By Metro Reporter

Jessie Oliver, a 36-year-old Ravenswood opera singer and voice teacher, created the Facebook event “Pantsuits to the Polls.” The event, which has 533 Facebook users scheduled to attend as of press time, advocates “usurping fashion as a statement that women are more than p—ies to be grabbed by abusers”—alluding to a 2005 tape of Republican nominee Donald Trump speaking of grabbing women—and encourages all genders to wear pantsuits when they vote for Hillary Clinton Nov. 8. 

The Chronicle spoke with Oliver about the critiques of Clinton’s outfits, the attention the movement has drawn and what she hopes will come out of it.


THE CHRONICLE: How did you come up with the idea for “Pantsuits to the Polls?”

JESSIE OLIVER: I was listening to pre-debate coverage [Oct. 9] and was so overwhelmed by how vile some of the comments were. Trump’s comments have been vile since the beginning, but it took a moment of him saying physically abusive things for people to snap out of supporting him in the Republican Party. 

I thought to myself, “You know what I want? I want a really badass pantsuit to wear to go vote

for Hillary.”

There are a lot of rules varying state to state on how one can campaign on the day of the election and what you can and cannot wear, but no one can tell you you cannot wear a pantsuit, shy of having Hillary’s face all over the pantsuit. I thought it would be such a wonderfully subversive way for [people] to unite and cast a vote for not only the first woman president, but for someone who is not actively degrading and abusing [women]. 

What do you think of the media’s evaluation of what Clinton wears?

There is a scrutiny applied to her that we can agree would not be applied to a male. Fifty-one percent of the population is female, [so] why do we let the narrative become this? Why are we saying it is okay for the narrative to be about what she was wearing? It just diminishes the actual point of what she is saying.


How do you feel about the traction your event has gotten?

I love that there is a mouthpiece for women uniting and saying we will not stand for this behavior. Every woman I know has been harassed in some way by a man. That’s unfathomable and unconscionable. I think [“Pantsuits to the Polls”] is really a lovely way for women to come together and make a statement, and it’s growing to be a thing that’s outside of me. 


What do  you hope “Pantsuits to the Polls” will accomplish?

Women walk a really strange line in our culture where they are told if you are a woman who is doing certain things in the public eye, such as politics, you have a certain level of strength, but you also have to be super feminine. You can’t just say [Hillary Clinton is] intelligent and well-spoken, and that she’s competent and the most qualified person who has ever run for this position. You have to still define her as having grace.

I am someone who very strongly identifies as [feminine] and wears dresses all day everyday, but the fact that this somehow diminishes my ability and potential [to be successful]—this is so absurd to me. 

In the world we live in where you have things like slut-shaming, I thought [“Pantsuits to the Polls”] was a really interesting way to take fashion and make it for [women]. We are defining how we feel about a candidate simply by the choice we make in what we wear to go vote for that candidate.