When anti-lockdown protests erupted in the United States during the 2020 onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many right-wing women crudely appropriated the feminist slogan “my body, my choice” in defiance of liberal fears and in support of Donald Trump. Looking at the widely shared image of a young woman holding a sign with the phrase at a rally in Texas, I discuss the communal charge of what I call tough girl affect—a politically saturated vibe, touting a notably youthful, right-wing femininity that is deliberately feisty, fun, and provocative, yet compliant with the hetero-patriarchal agenda of Trump’s neoliberal macho politics. I am interested in the way body and choice evoke white femininity as affective strategy, negotiating a public feeling of privileged belonging to the nation. The article works through the tenets of body, border, and nation as central to this investment, suggesting that the tough girl image mobilizes femininity to affectively strengthen conservatism, whiteness, and homeland in the face of the pandemic. Staging a fantasy of impunity, the tough girl intimates the invincible conservative body in opposition to the porous emotionality of feeble liberals. At the same time, the spectacle of white femininity necessarily fuels national fears of permeability and hence charges negative (even fatal) attachments to fantasmatic sovereignty. While mobilizing vulnerability to energize femininity, whiteness, and borders, the image ultimately exposes the compromised bargains of living and dying in (Trump’s) America.

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