So much has been written by so many persons these days about Donald Trump’s shocking triumph over Hillary Clinton that I’m tempted to skip the topic altogether. However, this would be similar to King George III’s writing in his diary ‘Nothing important happened today’ on 4th July 1776, the day when the United States became an independent nation. I would have written a post had I been running this blog on 9/11 2001 and, faced with another terrifying historic event, I feel that I must write a little something here.
Robert de Niro is certainly not alone in connecting the fear of chaos caused by the Twin Towers attacks with the dreadfulness caused by Trump’s winning the election: both are disconcerting, disturbing, tragic events that make the world a much darker place. As I told my students in my SF class, Cormac McCarthy never explains in his superbly well-crafted post-apocalyptic tale The Road what exactly destroys the United States in the near future. Now an explanation is looming on the Washington horizon. Hopefully, as The Simpsons narrate, Lisa Simpson–or someone as sensible and rational as her, woman or man–will win the American minds and hearts and replace Trump, sooner rather than later.
As you may imagine, being a woman I feel absolutely betrayed by the 42% women who voted for Donald Trump, despite his being, as British journalist Matthew Norman wrote in The Independent a “pussy-grabbing, race-baiting, tangerine-hued pantomime ogre with the attention span of a Labrador puppy, the moral sensibilities of a slum landlord, the verbal dexterity of a stroke victim, and the default vindictiveness of a mafia capo” (https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/donald-trump-hillary-clinton-america-presidential-election-sick-to-my-stomach-victory-odds-chance-a7400896.html).
Famously, Susan Sarandon announced before the election that she would not be voting with her vagina. Sarandon endorsed Green Party candidate Jill Stein, and announced that she would not vote for either Clinton or Trump, on the grounds that she wanted to support a woman she trusted and not just any woman. Fair enough, although the problem she has ignored is that any vote taken away from Hillary was a vote given to one of the clearest embodiments of patriarchy in the 21st century (together with his friend Vladimir Putin). There are times, then, when the vagina–the female organ the new President is so fond of demeaning and grabbing–is as necessary as the brain to vote. Not just to elect a first woman President of the USA but, above all, to put an end to patriarchy which, unlike what many proclaim today, is not at all on its dying throes.
In the end, 54% of women voters and 41% of men voters supported Hillary Clinton, whereas Trump received the votes of 53% men and 42% women. Beyond race, ethnicity, social class, party lines… the figures indicate, as I explained to my students, that the number of American female voters complicit with patriarchal power outnumbers the number of American male voters who have expressed an anti-patriarchal opinion. This is very, very bad news. It means that while the slow process of reclaiming men away from patriarchy is progressing quite well, we women are stalled regarding the spread of feminism among women.
If all women and that 41% men had voted for Hillary Clinton, she would have taken possession of the Oval Office with the biggest number of votes ever. Instead, although Trump has received fewer votes than her and than the two previous Republican candidates, voters have stayed away from Hillary and she has lost many votes in comparison to the numbers that voted for Barack Obama. For, of course, women will vote for a handsome black man sooner than for a woman. Much has been said about Michelle Obama, or even Oprah Winfrey, running for President in 2020 but 2016 is happening now, and why wait for four years to elect the first woman President when her rival is the unspeakable Donald Trump? Really?
I’d like to turn now to Tina Brown’s article in The Guardian, “My beef over Hillary Clinton’s loss is with liberal feminists, young and old” (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/12/hillary-clinton-liberal-feminists?CMP=share_btn_link). Brown offers the argument that Hillary didn’t fail but that the Democratic Party supporters and sympathizers, particularly the liberal feminists, failed her. This is a classic of all elections, as we know in Spain very well: right-wing voters are faithful and steady and will vote for their candidate, no matter how appalling, whereas left-wing voters are volatile and prone to stay at home unless mobilized by the hope that things will really change (‘Yes, we can!’). And, so, many American liberal women never went near the polling stations, nor did the millennials, who now, as happened with Brexit, are complaining that Trump is not their choice. The FBI ill-timed (or well-timed…), ugly hint that they would prosecute Clinton has much to blame for her defeat, but in the end it was up to the young and the old women of the Democratic Party who didn’t budge for her. Also and mostly to the 42% in the Republican Party who made a shameful public display of their slave mentality.
Tina Brown writes that Trump won because “There are more tired wives who want to be Melania sitting by the pool in designer sunglasses than there are women who want to pursue a PhD in earnest self-improvement. And there are more young women who see the smartness and modernity of Ivanka as the ultimate polished specimen of blonde branded content they want to buy.” Perhaps, though I very much doubt that this urban mentality was a crucial factor; after all, Trump has lost in all major cities bigger than 1,000,000 inhabitants and although I can very well imagine the women Brown describes here, I don’t think they make that chilling 42%. The betrayers are the women who just will do nothing for themselves. Many are enslaved to their own domestic tyrants (did you see Trump keep an eye on Melania as she voted?), which means that liberal feminism has failed to do successful grassroots work among the conservative women. Others can vote freely but, obeying this slave mentality I have mentioned, they believe that the men know better and it’s their job to run politics. Some, no doubt, wish they were Melania–and I have no words to comment on the replacement of Michelle Obama by that woman. Many of the 42%, and here’s my deep worry, are totally impervious to any feminist argument for they genuinely believe in patriarchy. And not all are white. A friend of mine was aghast after hearing on TV a Latino working-class woman declare that she had voted for Trump because he was honest. What kind of blindness is this? If no AfricanAmerican would vote for KKK, why do women endorse patriarchy?
I don’t particularly like Hillary Clinton, for I believe she lost a great deal of her feminist and feminine dignity when she learned about Bill’s womanizing and still stayed married to him. I understand that a divorced woman stood little chance of being elected for the highest office in the conservative United States but, even so, Bill is a blot on Hillary’s feminist credentials. Having said that, I have no doubt whatsoever that she would have been a good, perhaps even a great, President and much more so in comparison to Donald Trump. The Republicans are, by definition, defenders of patriarchy but if she had faced a rival who could call himself (or herself) elegant, rational and well-spoken I would not be writing this post. What bewilders me and any thinking person, male or female, is that half the American voters–including that 42%–chose the worst possible kind of man to be their President. Some are optimistic that Trump won’t be able to implement his racist, homophobic, misogynistic ideals any more than Obama could alter the structures of inequality, as he promised he would do. But, please, even Ronald Reagan and both Bush Presidents seemed more apt for the Presidency than this frightening patriarch.
I had classes to teach on the Wednesday when the election results were announced and, so, I could not do as one of my female students did: curl up in bed and try to calm down, bracing myself for the horrors to come. I felt, as I did on 9/11, dazed and confused. The difference is that on that day some comfort came from the realization that disempowered patriarchal men were lashing out against the power centres of American patriarchy. On 11/9, however, I lost all trust in women, and that is even more dispiriting than any form of male terrorism, whether from the ranks of Daesh or from the White House.
Comments are very welcome! (Thanks!) Just be warned that I check them for spam; it might take a few days for yours to be online. Follow the blog updates on Twitter: @SaraMartinUAB and download the yearly volumes from https://ddd.uab.cat/record/116328. See also: https://gent.uab.cat/saramartinalegre/. Or email me at Sara.Martin@uab.cat.