Olivia Julianna is the hero we need right now.
The fact that men who disagree with me feel entitled to comment on my looks never surprises me. If I’m being honest, I take a certain kind of satisfaction from their disparagement. At least I’m making the right kind of enemies, I think, as I flag death threats about my vagina as spam. I do not, however, take any pleasure in seeing how other AFAB people are treated by trolls. When I first saw that Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz had singled out a young activist on Twitter, I was enraged. I had no idea that Olivia Julianna was about to become the hero we need.
In case you missed it, last week, Republican congressman Matt Gaetz gave a speech to a group of young neofascists in which he claimed that abortion rights activists are too ugly to be fuckable. I’m just going to trust you to effectively deconstruct that. When Olivia Julianna, a 19-year-old activist in Texas clapped back, Gaetz posted her photo, insinuating she was exactly the kind of woman he had been referring to in his speech.
Julianna, a political strategist with the non-profit Gen-Z for Change, immediately called Gaetz out on Twitter and TikTok. “I know this Beavis and Butthead ass Republican politician did not just come for me on Twitter,” she said in a TikTok video. But she didn’t stop there: Julianna also asked her followers to donate to an abortion fundraiser in Gaetz’s honor. And so they did. As of this writing, Olivia Julianna’s campaign has raised almost $2.2 million, which (along with all Gen-Z for Choice Abortion Fund donations) will be evenly divided among 50 local abortion funds in the U.S. Unlike the elected official who trolled her, Julianna is a savvy communicator, and she’s patiently explained to hundreds of thousands of people on social media why it’s not okay for a grown ass man to try to publicly humiliate a teenager.
At this point, pretty much every high-profile Democrat, from Hilary Clinton to Beto O’Rourke, has praised Julianna. Hell, even anti-abortionists have publicly called Gaetz out for his clearly despicable comments, as Business Insider reported. For her part, Julianna is milking this holy cow for all it’s worth and doesn’t seem to GAF what Gaetz, a confirmed douchebag, thinks about her. She’s focused on winning the war for reproductive rights. “I don’t start fights,” Julianna wrote in a public statement, “I finish them.”
There are so many reasons to admire Julianna. Not only has she turned a public shaming into a massively successful abortion rights fundraising push, but she has also consistently refused to turn any part of the event into trauma porn. “People have called me racial and homophobic slurs, spoken in detail about my body and sex life, and commented on the estimated age they think I will die,” Julianna wrote.
Julianna is laughing all the way to the abortion clinic and using the unwanted attention from conservatives to draw attention to the absurd impotence of their own showy tactics. As she wrote in her statement, “Right wing theatrics and outrage culture will no longer be tolerated.”