What are female authors saying about Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump? The Guardian asked a few American writers their opinions.
Siri Hustvedt agreed that misogyny played a role in the campaign and “those who voted for Trump are living in a state of vicarious narcissism. The man’s grandiosity, his sense of entitlement with impunity, his open cruelty toward women, minorities and disabled people were adopted by identification. The policy did not matter. Reality did not matter. He made humiliated, emasculated white men (and the women who identify with them) feel better about themselves.”
Joyce Carol Oates didn’t think gender “was a primary factor” in Clinton’s thrashing, but rather, “the electorate was told repeatedly a systematic sequence of lies – that Clinton would “take away your guns” and allow in “terrorists.” So, it is not clear that any opponent, certainly including Bernie Sanders, would have done better pitted against a demagogue rival for whom truth is not an issue.”
Katie Roiphe lamented that the election was “sad and disturbing” in that women failed to turn out for Clinton– “only 51% of white women with a college degree voted for women.” Roiphe felt that Clinton’s “unlikable” tag although a factor was not the key reason she lost the contest. Rather, she opined that a sizable number of voters, men, and women, have a “deep distrust of ambitious, powerful women that extends much further than uneducated, disenfranchised men.”
Author Maya Jasanoff added, “Though I do believe there will be a female president in my lifetime, I think she’s far more likely to be a Republican than a Democrat.” She said it was “no accident” that the two female Prime Ministers in the UK were conservative women who more easily associated with “tradition.” Americans still cling to traditional notions of conservative male leaders when the contest is between a lady and a man.
OUR FREE OPINION
We do not feel that misogyny was a major factor in this election. Nor do we consider Mr. Trump a racist: This was an election about conservative versus liberal ideas particularly where issues about immigration are concerned, and immigration matters implicitly involve race. The election was more about Hillary Clinton’s bad character than issues overall, though: Rarely has a candidate been so disliked. Her many traits of dishonesty just could not be overcome.
So Hustvedt may be right when she says that policy and reality did not matter so much, but she is out of touch with reality when she concludes that Trump backers are “living in a state of vicarious narcissism.” To be sure, there are radicals in both parties, but the majority of Trump supporters were Clinton haters, not racists or bigots. Hillary was uniquely qualified to lose this election.