The c-word is one of the nastiest words that can be hurled at a woman. Rachel Sklar—a writer and entrepreneur based in New York—just gave it a whole new meaning.
More than reclaim the word, she’s empowered its acronym with a clever and commanding “once-in-a-lifetime pun.”
“C. U. Next Tuesday,” says Nikki Reed, in a pitch-perfect PSA to get out the vote, written by Sklar for Humanity for Hillary, a social media campaign launched by progressives, artists and activists who want to see Hillary Clinton elected as the first woman president of the United States.
Humanity for Hillary: SEE YOU NEXT TUESDAY! STARRING NIKKI REED pic.twitter.com/QfRqlKUimk
— Humanity 4 Progress (@Humanity4Prog) November 3, 2016
It’s the feminist rallying cry American women have been waiting for—and a Canadian came up with it.
Toronto-born Sklar relocated to New York after she graduated from law school at the University of Western Ontario. She’s since co-founded Change The Ratio, a platform for women in tech and new media, and TheLi.st, a network for badass babes.
On the heels of the video’s release, she gave FLARE the scoop on how it all came together so serendipitously—and what it feels like to live in the U.S. just days before this historic election.
How did you get involved with Humanity for Hillary?
I’ve known creators Laura Dawn and Sarah Sophie Flicker for a while now. They invited me to speak on a panel about sexism and the election a few months ago, and I’ve been aware of the incredible work they’ve done with their amazingly clever and saucy videos. I had this idea to create an ad tackling this subject matter about a week or so ago, but it wasn’t until I saw the James Comey letter and the news about Anthony Weiner that I knew I had to do something. There was this reaction from so many women around me where we were just thinking, Really, Weiner? I mean, c’mon! I realized I needed to sit down and write something, and then see if it was possible to do something with it. I knew I’d be mad at myself if I at least didn’t try. And let’s face it, this election has been trying. It’s been bruising, and it’s bruised all of us.
I’m a single mom to a one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, so I knew I had to write around my daughter’s schedule. I started writing during her nap on Saturday and finished it on Sunday morning while she was on my boob. Then I emailed it over to Laura and Sarah and asked what they thought. I got it in just under the wire.
So Comey released his letter last Friday afternoon, and then you wrote the ad over the weekend—can you tell us how it all came together after that?
The whole thing really came together in less than 24 hours. It was a first draft. I knew I didn’t have time to refine it. I had to do it raw. It wasn’t going to happen if I sweated out all the details. There just isn’t enough time until election day.
Everything fell into place so serendipitously. Humanity for Hillary already had time scheduled with Nikki Reed and were about to write a script. Mine fit perfectly.
Laura and her crew filmed the spot on Tuesday and—despite dealing with a nasty infected spider bite—Laura managed to edit it from her hospital room so it could get posted the next day.
I was there for the filming and it was incredible to see an artist like Nikki use her talent, craft and all her emotion to bring what I had written to life.
Let’s talk about what you wrote…
When I posted the video on Facebook, I wrote “Inspired by true events.” All of that has either happened directly to me or to people I know. I’ve been called the c-word too.
Actually hearing Nikki say the it was jarring for me—and I wrote it. It has immense power as a word. The harshness of it was necessary, because that’s what women experience when that word is hurled at them.
And I couldn’t believe there’s an anti-Hillary super PAC with that acronym!
Yeah. It was created by Roger Stone, who is an advisor to Donald Trump now. He launched Citizens United Not Timid in 2008.
Speaking of nasty acronyms, can you talk about the importance of reclaiming words used to insult women?
Words have power. Words like ‘nasty’ and the ‘c-word’ are meant to cut women down to size and render them powerless. The queer community and people of colour know how epithets can otherize and besmirch and completely marginalize. When I realized we were at a juncture where this casual acronym could become an unbelievable feminist call to action, I was like WOW, we’ve got to own this. We gave the acronym a mission and imbued it with a sense of purpose: to see you next Tuesday and vote.
So it wasn’t just us taking the c-word and reclaiming it, because it is a truly horrible word—it was us using the acronym as an actual tool to reclaim our power through a specific action.
Still, I have to say, I was trepidatious about writing it and using the word in that way, but I do think it falls under the rubric of “when they go low, we go high.”
Would you say you wear the Nasty Woman badge with pride?
Oh hell yeah, for sure. I keep trying to order a Nasty Woman t-shirt from Nasty Gal, but it’s perpetually sold out. Liz Plank at Vox (another Canadian woman doing an awesome job down here) recently got a bunch of Nasty Woman buttons, I’ve asked her to save me one.
Can you vote in the election?
I can’t vote because I’m a Canadian citizen living in the U.S. under a talent visa—but my daughter is a U.S. citizen, and on Tuesday I plan to go to Pennsylvania and hold peoples’ kids while they vote. If I can’t vote, then I’ll do whatever I can to help other people do it.
How would you describe the current political climate in the last few days?
It’s bananas. That’s the word I use most often. It’s bananas that a candidate with a record like Hillary Clinton, with deep, deep experience on all fronts, is battling it out against the most divisive, bigoted, inexperienced and actually nasty candidate in modern memory. At this stage, after all the stunts he’s pulled—so many stunts we no longer even experience whiplash when we hear about the latest thing he’s done, we’re so depressingly used to it by now—I think everyone just wants to say, “See You Next Tuesday.”
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