NEW YORK—"Excuse me, are you a nasty woman?"
I don’t actually say it because the lady walking her terrier looks very kind and pleasant. I’m also wary of the policeman standing next to the Taste of Home gingerbread house here in Madison Square Park, where I’ve been walking in circles up to my ankles in slush for half an hour wishing I had thought to bring boots and trying to decide whether I’m brave enough to Google "Nuva ring." Ten minutes ago the officer took it upon himself to remind me that there is no smoking in city parks. I probably shouldn’t push my luck.
The Nasty Women’s Choir is a project of the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women. Inspired by an insult the president-elect directed at his Democratic rival, this ad-hoc acapella group has a repertoire made up entirely of obscene pro-contraception parodies of Christmas songs. Their sources run the gamut from traditional carols—"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"—to "I’ll Have a Blue Christmas" and "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus."
The lyrics to "Single Belles" are fairly representative:
Single belles, single belles
Single all the way
Oh what fun it is to ride
This guy I met today
Swiping through my app
As I go about my day
Refill my pill pack
Pick up condoms on the way
Got a date at nine
For drinks and a quick bite
What fun it is to laugh and flirt
And have safe sex tonight
I'll leave it there. These songs are, to this correspondent, totally inscrutable. Who in the world knows what "spermicide" is or "the implant," with a definite article? Has it got something to do with dentistry?
Apart from my ruined canvas sneakers, I am confronted with any number of problems as I try to sit in on the group’s second scheduled public performance here between Madison Avenue and Fifth. The first problem is that I have no idea what, exactly, a nasty woman looks like. Nothing on the group’s Facebook page indicated what they will be wearing today or how many of them there will be.
Suddenly from across the park I see an ominous figure clad in a red scarlet robe.
"I’ve found the nasty women!" someone shouts.
As I approach cautiously I realize that there are around a dozen more of them blocking the lane that leads from Shake Shack to the Fifth Avenue side of the park. Right now they are rehearsing. A bearded guy in glasses who describes himself as an "ally" asks someone to hand me a print copy of the Nasty or Nice Songbook. I leaf through it. Somehow in reading through the online version I had missed their parody of "Santa Baby," almost certainly the first ballad ever written in which the narrator expresses her desire to receive gynecological treatment and sexual pleasure from the popular children’s character:
Santa baby, slip an IUD up in me (and me!)
Been an awful good girl, Santa baby,
So hurry before January…
Santa baby, I wanna cum
And really that’s not a lot
I’ve been nasty all year
Santa baby, so hurry before January
There isn’t much of a crowd here. Most of the people I see are just trying to get around the choir, the NOW organizers, and the local TV cameraman. During the performance of "Donald Trump is Coming to Town" (You better watch out / You better not hump / You better pull out / ’Cause our president’s Trump"), I chat with Alyssa from NOW. She seems very skeptical of my journalistic pedigree.
"And you’re from?" she asks.
"The Washington Free Beacon."
"Okay, great. Nice to meet you."
Something in her voice makes me think she is wondering why in the world a Washington-based right-wing extremist blog would bother sending a correspondent all the way to Manhattan on a weekend just to cover today’s musical happening.
I ask her how the choir came to be organized.
"Right after Election Day, Google searches for IUDs surged," she says. "Women were feeling that they needed to have their reproductive rights secured now more than ever. We wanted to bring awareness to our fight for reproductive rights and contraception in different forms women can choose from."
Is Trump, America’s least unsexed president ever, against contraception?
"Well, he’s anti-choice, and his cabinet picks are mostly anti-choice. And Mike Pence has voted to defund Planned Parenthood in his home state. The people around him don’t want to take women’s health seriously."
I pose the same question to one of the choristers, a 74-year-old psychoanalyst and New York native. She tells me her "soul aches" for Hillary.
"I think he doesn’t want birth control—sorry, this is my hypothesis that I just thought of, it’s raising my consciousness—is that he adores impregnating women."
"Yes. He adores having little hims or hers running around."
We talk for another five minutes about why Trump is Hitler. Unlike Alyssa, she is curious about the Beacon.
"Your circulation isn’t what the Washington Post’s is, right?"
"No, I’m afraid not," I reply. Then I change the subject. "Which of these songs is your favorite? Do you think they’re fun?"
"I think," she says, before pausing and giving me a look like death. "Uh, yes. Uh, I don’t have a favorite. Let me see." She takes out her copy of the songbook. "I guess I like ‘Have Yourself a Nasty Little Christmas.’"
After this ringing endorsement, just before walking back to rejoin her fellow choristers for another round of "Single Belles," she tells me I’m doing a good job fighting the power as a member of the independent media. I just want to change my socks.