Two Ithaca sisters couldn’t believe their ears when they heard Donald Trump call Hillary Clinton “such a nasty woman” during the final presidential debate in October.
“I was speechless,” Christina Constas, who has been an Ithaca resident for more than a decade, told The Sun.
Nearly three months later, the sisters have turned the phrase into a rallying cry for Ithacans worried about what President-elect Trump’s words and policies will mean for women and women’s health services across the country.
Christina and her older sister, Katharine Constas ’15, began taking orders on Tuesday for T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase, “Ithaca Women Are Nasty,” and printed in a style similar to the locally-ubiquitous “Ithaca is gorges” bumper stickers and apparel inspired by Howard Cogan ‘50.
Any payment over the five dollars it costs to print each shirt will be donated to Planned Parenthood, the sisters said.
“By reclaiming the word ‘nasty,’ we show that there is power in having a strong voice and power in a woman being a leadership figure,” said Katharine, who works with Healthy Food For All, a Cornell Cooperative Extension program that provides produce to low-income families.
“We wanted to take those words and show how women can speak out against denigration and harmful words that people in power, and people like Trump, have used to take down strong women figures like Hillary Clinton,” she continued.
Christina said she was heartened when, the day after the final debate, she saw the “nasty woman” phrase plastered all over social media — largely the work of Clinton supporters, who supplanted the phrase onto campaign logos, tote bags, and the cover of Janet Jackson’s 1986 album, “Control,” which includes the song, “Nasty.”
Within a few weeks, the Constas sisters said they started thinking about making a localized shirt with the phrase and supplying it to Ithacans in time for the Women’s March on Ithaca on Saturday morning, which more than 1,500 Facebook users say they will be attending.
Katharine said she is worried Trump will reduce or eliminate funding of Planned Parenthood after he is sworn in on Friday, and that women and people in the LGBTQ community “will be in a greater state of vulnerability with Trump in power. “
“That’s why it’s so important for Planned Parenthood to be a strong organization that has funding, and for the community to show support for Planned Parenthood and other organizations that advocate for vulnerable populations,” she said.
Kaya Donaj-Keys, who printed some “Ithaca is gorges” products for Visit Ithaca, is screen-printing all of the shirts using water-based, nontoxic ink, Katharine said, and offering the sisters a discounted rate so they can pass on as much money as possible to Planned Parenthood.
“Christina and I have had a lot of fun doing this together as sisters,” said Katharine, noting that the process was a family affair. Their mother helped with the design and they all kept their older sister, who lives in New York City, updated on the progress.
Neither of the sisters could pinpoint an exact moment when their joking about the idea turned into a serious plan for a T-shirt and fundraiser.
“When sisters are together, things just kind of happen,” Christina said.