BY STEPHANIE DEGOOYER
“Are we for Clinton or against Trump? We can be with Clinton and against her at the same time, voting for her and pushing her to be accountable to a progressive agenda in office. Clinton can change history by putting her vagina in the chair, but the power of this symbol will fade fast unless she proceeds to work with Congress to change and protect policy”.
On 8 November 2016, the United States will go to the polls to vote for their 44th president, choosing between the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and the Republican candidate Donald Trump. This election cycle has been more divisive and toxic than any other in living memory in the US; it has widened old conservative and liberal fault lines, and created new, even more dangerous ones with the potential to effect not just the US, but the whole world. In the run-up to the election, we will be running a series of short opinion pieces by artists, curators and writers, each one invited to address a different key election issue.
When Eileen Myles wrote of wanting to put Hillary Clinton’s ‘vagina’ in the US presidential chair this past February in Buzzfeed, I bristled: it could not be so simple. To mitigate Clinton’s neoliberal hawkishness for the sake of history would be to turn politics into symbolism.
My view changed after watching Donald Trump continually interrupt and challenge Clinton’s right to speak on stage during the first presidential debate on 26 September, and then the second on 9 October. This is an election about gender. Will the American nation elect its first female president, one of the most qualified candidates in history? Or will it choose a man with a startlingly overt record of misogyny and sexual assault? Trump insults women he does not like as ‘dogs,’ objectifies and berates their appearance (Clinton does not have a ‘presidential look’), blames their critique on menstruation, and brags that his fame allows him to grab them by their genitalia. (His racist epithets, on the other hand, which include calling Mexicans ‘rapists,’ discriminating against African Americans for housing, and using the definite article as if ‘the Muslims’ are objects rather than people, have sadly done less to harm his campaign, though they have been no less public).
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