Society for the Anthropology of North America
Invited - Oral Presentation Session
On April 15, 2009, our research on the politics of taxes in Oregon took an unexpected
turn. Knowing little about the ‘tea parties’ in advance, except what we gleaned from Fox News,
on April 15, we attended four tea parties in four towns in southwest and central Oregon. In images that have now become familiar, Tea Party participants wore red, white, and blue, waved American and Gadsden flags, and aired their grievances in speeches of historical revisionism and graphically on signs. These rallies would lead to successful elections of Tea Party members from the local to the national level. This paper revisits this research 10 years later with a feminist lens. As has become more clear in the Trump era than the Obama era, when race had more salience, gender is an important entry point for studying the right. I will show in this paper that white women’s grassroots organizing helped to propel the Tea Parties but their organizing efforts were often overlooked. In conversation with global literature on gender and nationalism, I attribute successes and failures of the Tea Party movement to the work of women who organized from their living rooms and Twitter feeds, as well as men with checkbooks and talking heads on TV screens.