Social Experiment Swapped Gender Roles For Trump And Clinton, Ends With People Realizing Why He Won (And How Unlikable She Is)

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Mar 08, 2017 4:00 PM
Social Experiment Swapped Gender Roles For Trump And Clinton, Ends With People Realizing Why He Won (And How Unlikable She Is)

What if Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton swapped gender roles? I know a woman acting like Trump and a man becoming Clinton, it’s usually a nonsensical exercise when the Left does this. The analysis of the reactions did touch upon how we perceive messages through gender, but it also yielded interesting results, namely highlighting the unappealing persona of Clinton, compounded when a man assumes her role. Whether you’re a man or a woman, the voters just didn’t like her, even if the roles were switched, as was the case in this exercise. Additionally, some who seemed to not understand how Trump won finally got—to the horror of some—the appeal of the 45th president of the United States. A common remark about the actress channeling Trump was that you may not be like her, but you know she’s right—and that she would take care of you. At the time of the debates, both candidates were relatively unpopular, but Trump had a message and a picture for voters to latch onto, which was accentuated with this gender swap experiment. The idea came from Maria Guadalupe of INSEAD, an international business school, who worked with Joe Salvatore of New York University, which ended in the creation of “Her Opponent” (via NYU) [emphasis mine]:

Salvatore cast fellow educational theatre faculty Rachel Whorton to play “Brenda King,” a female version of Trump, and Daryl Embry to play “Jonathan Gordon,” a male version of Hillary Clinton, and coached them as they learned the candidates’ words and gestures.

[…]

The two sold-out performances of Her Opponent took place on the night of Saturday, January 28, just a week after President Trump’s inauguration and the ensuing Women’s March on Washington. “The atmosphere among the standing-room-only crowd, which appeared mostly drawn from academic circles, was convivial, but also a little anxious,” Alexis Soloski, a New York Times reporter who attended the first performance, observed. “Most of the people there had watched the debates assuming that Ms. Clinton couldn’t lose. This time they watched trying to figure out how Mr. Trump could have won.”

Inside the evening’s program were two surveys for each audience member to fill out—one for before the show, with questions about their impressions of the real-life Trump–Clinton debates, and another for afterward, asking about their reactions to the King–Gordon restaging. Each performance was also followed by a discussion, with Salvatore bringing a microphone around to those eager to comment on what they had seen.

[…]

Many were shocked to find that they couldn’t seem to find in Jonathan Gordon what they had admired in Hillary Clinton—or that Brenda King’s clever tactics seemed to shine in moments where they’d remembered Donald Trump flailing or lashing out. For those Clinton voters trying to make sense of the loss, it was by turns bewildering and instructive, raising as many questions about gender performance and effects of sexism as it answered.

[…]

We heard a lot of “now I understand how this happened”—meaning how Trump won the election. People got upset. There was a guy two rows in front of me who was literally holding his head in his hands, and the person with him was rubbing his back. The simplicity of Trump’s message became easier for people to hear when it was coming from a woman—that was a theme. One person said, “I’m just so struck by how precise Trump’s technique is.” Another—a musical theater composer, actually—said that Trump created “hummable lyrics,” while Clinton talked a lot, and everything she was was true and factual, but there was no “hook” to it. Another theme was about not liking either candidate—you know, “I wouldn’t vote for either one.” Someone said that Jonathan Gordon [the male Hillary Clinton] was “really punchable” because of all the smiling. And a lot of people were just very surprised by the way it upended their expectations about what they thought they would feel or experience. There was someone who described Brenda King [the female Donald Trump] as his Jewish aunt who would take care of him, even though he might not like his aunt. Someone else described her as the middle school principal who you don’t like, but you know is doing good things for you.

Hillary, the voters you needed to win over to win this race were just not that into you. At the same time, given that this theater production was held in the heart of progressivism in the northeast--New York City--it's great to see that no one felt compelled to rush to a safe space when they realized why Trump is in the White House and Clinton is not.