• Written by Mona Lena Krook, Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Women & Politics Ph.D. Program, Rutgers University

Among the various forms of violence on display during the U.S. Capitol insurrection[1], one has been largely overlooked: misogyny, or hatred toward women. Yet behaviors and symbols of white male power were striking and persistent features of the riots.

Members of the overwhelmingly male crowds[2] defending a president well-known for his sexist attacks[3], embraced male supremacist ideologies[4], wore military gear[5] and bared their chests[6] in shows of masculine bravado. They even destroyed display cabinets[7] holding historical books on women in politics.

Actions targeting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi give the clearest illustration. Members of the mob broke into her office[8] and vandalized it. Items like mail, signs and even her lectern proved to be particularly popular trophies[9] – symbolizing an attack on Democrats and the House Speaker, but also against one of the most powerful women in American politics.

Misogyny in the Capitol: Among the insurrectionists, a lot of angry men who don't like women Richard Barnett sits at a desk inside Nancy Pelosi’s office holding a piece of mail labeled with her name and sticking his tongue out. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images[10]

‘Nancy, Bigo was here you bitch’

While partisan differences often drive political violence, misogyny can play an underappreciated role, especially when directed at women in prominent leadership positions. Misogyny punishes women who fail to live up to patriarchal standards[11], like those who dare to participate in the supposedly “male world” of politics.

In my new book, “Violence against Women in Politics[12],” I illustrate what this problem looks like around the world. In addition to physical harm, such violence can include threats, property damage and sexist rhetoric and imagery intended to intimidate women and delegitimize their political participation.

Attacks on Pelosi, while partisan in nature, also contained many elements of misogyny.

Pelosi was in physical danger as pro-Trump rioters roamed the Capitol building hunting down elected officials. News cameras filmed a man carrying zip-tie handcuffs entering and then exiting the speaker’s office[13], where members of her staff remained barricaded[14] in a room for more than two hours.

Acts of vandalism and theft were accompanied by speech disparaging and belittling Pelosi as a woman. In the hallway outside her suite of offices, angry rioters[15] tore the leadership nameplate off the wall as crowds chanted, “Get her out!”

Pro-Trump protesters fill the U.S. Capitol building, many of them wearing military gear. Pro-Trump protesters fill the U.S. Capitol building, many of them wearing military gear. Win McNamee/Getty Images News via Getty Images[16]

In a video[17], a woman claimed she helped break down the door to Pelosi’s office. Once inside, “somebody stole her gavel and I took a picture sitting in the chair flipping off the camera.” She proudly announced “and that was for Fox News” – a station notorious not just for its far-right politics, but also for its on- and off-camera sexism[18].

A photo of Richard “Bigo” Barnett[19], sitting with his feet up on a desk in Pelosi’s office, solicited perhaps the strongest reaction. One feminist writer asked[20], “Have you ever seen a clearer photo of arrogant male entitlement? The legs apart, the foot on the desk, the smile … this guy isn’t just happy he’s broken into the Capitol building. He feels like he’s putting a woman in her place by violating and defiling her space.”

Consistent with this interpretation, Barnett later told a reporter[21]: “I wrote her a nasty note, put my feet up on her desk, and scratched my balls.” The message read: “Nancy, Bigo was here you bitch.”

Another paper left on the desk[22] amplified this message, warning in red ink: “WE WILL NOT BACK DOWN.”

Violent restoration of a retrograde world

Gendered slurs similarly appear in one of the first cases pursued by the FBI stemming from the riot.

Cleveland Meredith[23] was charged with unregistered possession of firearms and unlawful possession of ammunition. FBI agents also discovered misogynistic text messages[24] on his mobile phone threatening violence against Pelosi, like “Thinking about heading over to Pelosi C**T’s speech and putting a bullet in her noggin on live TV,” “I’m gonna run that C**T Pelosi over,” and “Dead Bitch Walking.”

Misogyny in the Capitol attacks indicates that rioters, both male and female, did not simply wage an assault on democratic institutions. They also sought to violently restore a retrograde world in which men, especially white men, hold all the power.

[Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter[25].]


  1. ^ U.S. Capitol insurrection (
  2. ^ overwhelmingly male crowds (
  3. ^ well-known for his sexist attacks (
  4. ^ embraced male supremacist ideologies (
  5. ^ wore military gear (
  6. ^ bared their chests (
  7. ^ destroyed display cabinets (
  8. ^ mob broke into her office (
  9. ^ popular trophies (
  10. ^ Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images (
  11. ^ fail to live up to patriarchal standards (
  12. ^ Violence against Women in Politics (
  13. ^ entering and then exiting the speaker’s office (
  14. ^ remained barricaded (
  15. ^ angry rioters (
  16. ^ Win McNamee/Getty Images News via Getty Images (
  17. ^ video (
  18. ^ sexism (
  19. ^ photo of Richard “Bigo” Barnett (
  20. ^ asked (
  21. ^ told a reporter (
  22. ^ paper left on the desk (
  23. ^ Cleveland Meredith (
  24. ^ text messages (
  25. ^ Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter (

Authors: Mona Lena Krook, Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Women & Politics Ph.D. Program, Rutgers University

Read more

Metropolitan republishes selected articles from The Conversation USA with permission

Visit The Conversation to see more

Entertainment News

Gonna Tell You A Bit About Me & My Journey

There was a time that I didn’t like seeing myself in a mirror. I lacked confidence. I was shy. Then, I found modeling. When I first started modeling, being in front of the camera didn’t feel natural and I was nervous. Like most things – practice ...

Thorn Castillo - avatar Thorn Castillo

#1 Chart-Topping Band GREYE Comes Full Circle With “I Don’t Mind”

Six years after releasing their debut album Providence, Greye’s evolution from progressive Americana upstart to trailblazing indie rock powerhouse is complete. Pandemic and lockdown be damned, the well-traveled multi-generational Daytona Beach, F...

News Co - avatar News Co


From COVID-19 To the Shocking Events of January 6, This Is Michael Mesey’s Song of Hope to A Weary Nation and World This Inauguration Day is a chance to turn the page from a difficult, divisive era and embrace a more hopeful spirit of unity m...

Michael Mesey - avatar Michael Mesey

EMODULARI Releases The Hard-Driving, Intensely Visceral “Craniotomy”

Caught up in the maelstrom of bad to worse news in the New York Times one morning, Eli Soiefer spotted an uplifting article offering respite from the crazy. It was a piece about an open-brain surgical procedure where they keep the patient awake t...

News Co - avatar News Co


“Super Cool” is more than the name of rising international hitmaker AV Super Sunshine’s latest infectious 80’s techno inflected single. It’s the dizzying, freewheeling world he’s been living in these past months since the release of his previous ...

News Co - avatar News Co

Angela Predhomme - “Warmest Wish for You”

What could possibly help us heal from the exceptionally trying year of 2020? Singer-songwriter Angela Predhomme hopes that an inspiring new holiday song might give us a little solace. “Warmest Wish for You” is soul-tinged, feel-good song with a ...

News Co - avatar News Co

Metropolitan Business News

Do Directories Still Help SEO?

Directories were once one of the main staples of SEO and they were definitely in existence before search engines took over. Directories were once the main way that people navigated the world wide we...

News Co - avatar News Co

Shipping Container FAQs

If you are looking to rent or purchase a shipping container, you probably have a few questions. We have selected some of the most common questions and answered them here. We hope that you find this ...

News Co - avatar News Co

Is Duplicate Content an SEO Myth?

Any marketer you speak to about duplicate content is concerned about a “duplicate content penalty” but they are probably not very experienced with SEO. Google has specific guidelines on duplicate co...

News Co - avatar News Co

5 Key Factors To Starting A Website

Every business needs a website to be successful. However, this is a challenge for many due to the lack of coding and designing skills. The good news is, you do have a way around this—hire a deve...

News Co - avatar News Co

So You Want To Be A Project Manager? Here's What You Must Do

Project management is often a popular choice for people looking to make a mark in the organizations they work for. It's a great choice as well. If you hate monotony, love getting people and res...

News Co - avatar News Co

How to Deliver the Perfect Elevator Pitch

Do you struggle with explaining your career with professional or personal contacts, and you want to make a lasting impression? Whether you're looking for a job or building up your network, a wel...

Adam Jacobs - avatar Adam Jacobs

Writers Wanted

News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion