Nancy Pelosi’s so-called “meltdown” in a fraught White House meeting with Trump this week has seen her hailed a hero on Twitter.
Since time began, women with a point of view have been dismissed as hysterical or out of control.
So Donald Trump was simply adhering to a rich history of gender bias this week, when he tweeted a picture of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi standing up to him in a meeting with the caption: “Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown!”
The insult was a classic move for the President, who uses Twitter as his primary arsenal to attack political opponents. But what he perhaps did not anticipate was the whiplash speed at which Pelosi and her online supporters would flip the message around.
Instead of expressing remorse for her combative stance – captured during a tense White House showdown on Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria – Pelosi made it her Twitter cover photo.
Within hours, the image went viral on Twitter, alongside the hashtag #TrumpMeltdown and #PelosiWinsTrump. Twitter masses saluted both the “iconic” photo of Pelosi making a stand, and the fact that the speaker had taken ownership of the moment.
As many pointed out, the photo that spoke a thousand words pointed far more to Pelosi being in control, as Trump and various members of his office appeared to flail under her gaze.
The photo was taken as the speaker stood up to leave the meeting. Many observed that, if anyone in the room appeared to hold the gravitas of a commander-in-chief, it was the Pelosi herself – not Trump.
Pelosi, the first female speaker in history, is the only woman pictured at the table. So it was only natural that the tableau of female assertion brought to mind Beyoncé lyrics.
Hundreds of commentators hailed the courage inherent in this single behind-scenes snapshot of life in a Trump-led White House.
Others drew attention to the sexism inherent in Trump’s dismissal of his opponent.
Wednesday’s session focused on Trump’s move to pull US forces from Syria this week. The decision effectively paved the way for the Turkish military to go on the offensive in the region, as thousands of Kurdish troops were left stranded.
Pelosi later said she was delivering a simple message to POTUS: “At that moment, I was probably saying, ‘All roads lead to Putin’”. The speaker has long questioned Trump’s links to the Russian president.
She also attacked Trump’s strategy in the Middle East, saying: “What is the plan for fighting ISIS now that we have reneged on our handshake with the Kurds to do our fighting for us there?”
As the pair continue to trade barbs on global and domestic policy, one thing is clear: “Nancy ‘the Hammer’ Pelosi” has won the internet in this particular exchange.