Marilyn traveled from Asheville, North Carolina to make a statement. She made that statement with her hand-lettered sign, her enormous pink sunglasses, and her bare breasts.
She is hard to miss. I catch a glimpse of her out the corner of my eye as I sit on the park bench across from the White House eating my California Club sandwich. Protestors come to Washington in all shapes and sizes, but this was the first time I'd seen a half naked woman in Lafayette Park.
I walk over to hear her story. She is eager to tell it to anyone who comes by. She wants me to know that her name is Marilyn, named for Marilyn Monroe. That she and her husband came up from Asheville yesterday to mark the anniversary of the 19th amendment, when women finally got the right to vote. August 26th, 1920. She said she was there to meet up with hundreds of women yesterday who would take off their shirts in celebration and solidarity.
But you know that rain you all had here yesterday? Well, they all left! Can you believe that?
She tells me how bad it will be for women if President Obama isn't re-elected. As if on cue, she turns toward the White House and waves and thanks him again for allowing her to have all the rights she has now.
I ask her if I can take a picture of her for my blog. She lowers the sign, and poses with her breasts in full view. I tell her it's fine to leave the sign up where it was, but she insists.
As long as you are not writing anything derogatory about me, I don't mind my breasts showing in the picture. I take two photographs of her, and choose the one where she is partially covered. I tell her the internet is a weird place, and just because my intentions are good, someone else's might not be.
She talks a little more about women's struggles, how hard it will be for women with a Republican in the White House, and how she'll probably do a little shopping in Georgetown when she is done here.
I thank her, and tell her I appreciate her effort.
With her pink oversized sunglasses, her mismatched socks, and her bare breasts in front of the White House, I can't help but think that somewhere, Alice Paul, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are thanking her too.