Satire as Protest in the Women’s March

By Kristen Barber

As we walked down Market Street to the St. Louis Gateway Arch, I saw an orange, oversized paper mâché head pass by. With light rings painted around the eyes and a large swath of yellow felt for hair, it was unmistakably a representation of the now-President, Donald Trump. A ball gag was strapped tight across his mouth and a sign below his tiny black business suit read, “Putin’s Little Bitch.” The artist-activist of this sculpture drew attention to public worries about Trump’s amicable—although long denied—relationship with Russia. For a march organized around the rejection of an elected head of state, these images of bondage and submissiveness and the use of misogynistic language questioned Trump’s presidency—and his masculinity.

Rendering of Trump on display at the St. Louis Women’s March. Photo by: Kristen Barber.

This paper mâché Trump received a lot of attention on the morning of January 21st, as thousands of people came together downtown for the Women’s March. Many were there objecting to Trump’s proposals around limiting women’s access to abortion and birth control, as well as his “hot mic” remarks about grabbing women “by the pussy.” Protesters criticized how this language reflects men’s entitlement to women’s bodies and questioned whether a man who marginalizes sexual assault rhetoric as “locker room talk” can actually work in the interest of women. Three days later, Trump, surrounded by a group of white men in the oval office, signed an executive gag order to keep international health organizations from counseling women on abortions—an order that will likely increase global maternal mortality rates. Continue reading “Satire as Protest in the Women’s March”

Explaining Trump

By Claude S. Fischer

Explaining how such an unfit candidate and such a bizarre candidacy succeeded has become a critical concern for journalists and scholars. Through sites like Monkey Cage, Vox, and 538, as well as academic papers, we can watch political scientists in real time try to answer the question, “What the Hell Happened?” (There are already at least two catalogs of answers, here and here, and a couple of college-level Trump syllabi.) Although a substantial answer will not emerge for years, this post is my own morning-after answer to the “WTHH?” question.

I make three arguments: First, Trump’s electoral college victory was a fluke, a small accident with vast implications, but from a social science perspective not very interesting. Second, the deeper task is to understand who were the distinctive supporters for Trump, in particular to sort out whether their support was rooted mostly in economic or in cultural grievances; the evidence suggests cultural. Third, party polarization converted Trump’s small and unusual personal base of support into 46 percent of the popular vote. Continue reading “Explaining Trump”