Trump’s aggression would never be tolerated in a woman

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

After watching the second televised debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Maria Guadalupe, an associate professor of economics and political science at INSEAD, had an idea:

Millions had tuned in to watch a man face off against a woman for the first set of co-ed presidential debates in American history. But how would their perceptions change, she wondered, if the genders of the candidates were switched? She pictured an actress playing Trump, replicating his words, gestures, body language, and tone verbatim, while an actor took on Clinton’s role in the same way. What would the experiment reveal about male and female communication styles, and the differing standards by which we unconsciously judge them?

Guadalupe reached out to Joe Salvatore, a Steinhardt clinical associate professor of educational theatre who specializes in ethnodrama — a method of adapting interviews, field notes, journal entries, and other print and media artifacts into a script to be performed as a play. Together, they developed Her Opponent, a production featuring actors performing excerpts from each of the three debates exactly as they happened — but with the genders switched. 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.


Salvatore says he and Guadalupe began the project assuming that the gender inversion would confirm what they’d each suspected watching the real-life debates: that Trump’s aggression — his tendency to interrupt and attack — would never be tolerated in a woman, and that Clinton’s competence and preparedness would seem even more convincing coming from a man.


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.


  1. Hoyos says:


    That is all.

  2. Graham says:

    Golda Meir. I’d maybe disagree with much of her worldview and goals, but I’d be willing to elect her now to any office.

  3. Graham says:

    Also, were those alleged audience members real people?

    They sound like a collection of left-wing beta stereotypes.

    “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.”

    Unless he had just been kicked in the gonads or been told his wife/child/mother had died, this is an overreaction.

  4. Alrenous says:

    An overreaction? Not really. He just found out everyone he respected was lying to him. His parents, his teachers, his friends, his journalists, everyone. Only question was whether it was a Pod People moment or a Darwin destroys Christianity moment. E.g. only the most skilled doublethinkers won’t realize they’ve been sexist against men, not women, this whole time.

  5. Alrenous says:

    Progressive-religion-shattering stuff like this gets discovered and created all the time, but usually it’s covered up. This time it wasn’t. Oops.

  6. Kent says:

    It’s almost like Trump is some kind of Master Persuader or something.

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