Written by Hannah Dunleavy

In The News

Donkeys and Elephants

As Hillary Clinton officially becomes the first woman to run for US President, Hannah Dunleavy wishes her luck. Because, what with not being a white man, she’s going to need it.

Illustration by Louise Boulter

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

“An amazing journey” was how Hillary Clinton herself described the situation to supporters in Brooklyn when it finally become clear she was going to be the first woman to run for a major political party in the race to be US president. Amazing.

Or is it? Or is it actually amazing to be amazed that a 21st-century developed nation has finally conceded to let a woman have a crack at getting elected to the top job. Heavens to Betsy, they’ll be letting a woman run the most powerful nation in Europe next.

And yet Clinton’s right: it is one huge leap for womankind in the US, a country which remains that peculiar mix of Sunday school values, rampant consumerism and Wild West swagger that makes it both completely fascinating and 100 kinds of sexist.

It means Clinton faces a particular set of obstacles – not least that after eight years of Obama, many will be hankering for a Republican. Plus two non-white males in a row? How is that possibly fair to white males? Are you starved of oxygen?

She also has to navigate the paradoxical way in which a woman in politics needs to present herself. She needs to be seen to be decisive and resilient, but never headstrong or unfeeling.

Her clothes and looks will be the subject of much comment, even if she’s been talking about something much more important. And if she ever questions her treatment by the media or her political opponents she will be belittled or accused of playing the woman card. And that’s on a good day.

I previously refereed to the Clinton/Trump face-off as like a summer blockbuster, but it occurred to me this week that they are actually two blockbusters competing for the same bums on seats.

Clinton is Ghostbusters: a reworking of a successful brand but with Bill Clinton/Murray now played by a woman.

Now, the trouble with both ‘remakes’ is that instantly you hit a wall of people who just don’t like it. Thank you but no thank you, ma’am. Only rarely that polite.

“‘I felt the Bern and then I thought, fuck it, why not be racist instead’ is a weird political line to follow. And pretty hard to fit on a hat.”

They tend to get pretty vocal about it, creating a climate in which the point of the film or the presidential campaign isn’t the character at the centre of it, but the fact that she’s a woman. And then if they fail, the salient point is often missed in favour of ‘people don’t want their films to have all-female casts’ or ‘people don’t want their presidents to be women.’

As I write, Bernie Sanders has yet to concede – or indeed acknowledge – that he can’t win, but no one seems keen to press him into it, like it were waking a sleepwalker.

That hasn’t stopped Trump having a punt at getting disaffected Sanders supporters who feel cheated out of the nomination, to join his camp. Because surely that’d be the first place people who previously backed a socialist would turn. ‘I felt the Bern and then I thought, fuck it, why not be racist instead’ is a weird political line to follow. And pretty hard to fit on a hat.

So what summer movie is Trump? He thinks he’s Captain America: Civil War – an all-American hero blowing shit up in foreign countries, but he’s not that much of a team player. Instead he’s Swiss Army Man, a film about being trapped on an island with only a farting corpse for company, which no amount of bad reviews is going to stop anyone seeing.

Good luck Hillary, you’re going to need it.

Read all of Donkeys and Elephants here.


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Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.