March 7, 2017

This is an amazing story. Two liberal professors (political science and theater) teamed up on a project that they thought would back up their beliefs about the 2016 election, but instead, it shattered them. They produced a play that recreated one of the presidential debates, only with the genders switched: an actress took the Trump role and a male actor played Hillary. They watched videos to get the words, gestures, body language and tone of voice exactly the same; only the genders were changed. The creators expected that it would prove the cherished liberal contention that “a woman wouldn’t have been able to get away with the aggressive Trump style” and if Hillary had been a man and not fighting sexism, she would have won.

Instead, they were stunned to discover their own and the liberal audience’s reaction was the opposite. Without the blinders of their personal animosity for Trump and their pro-feminist bias, the female Trump surrogate seemed loose, confident and plain-spoken. Trump's debate strategies that they remembered negatively suddenly seemed effective. They appreciated her clear message. Some compared her to a Jewish aunt or former middle school principal whom they didn’t like personally, but they knew she was looking out for their own good. Some said she seemed like someone they’d like to share a beer with.

Meanwhile, they were put off by the male version of Hillary, who seemed stiff, cautious and over-rehearsed. He talked and talked without saying anything and just kept fake-smiling inappropriately until some felt an urge to punch him. Liberals came out of the play finally starting to understand why their relatives voted for Trump. And no doubt feeling shaken to the core to realize that sexism did play a role in the election, but it was their own sexism: Hillary didn’t lose because she was woman, but that might be the only reason they thought she was a good candidate.

Click the link to read more and see an excerpt from the play.

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