Essays · Strangers

Mocking Politicians

Last week, statues of Donald Trump popped up in a few locations. One was Seattle, and I saw a few people linking to the main article in the Stranger about it. I caught myself giggling at the comment allegedly by the NYC Parks Department about not allowing any ‘unauthorized erections, regardless of size’ on their property. But then I realized I was laughing not at Trump, but at the idea that tiny penis = bad, and that Trump believes this, and so saying he has a tiny penis will hurt him.

Others have covered this topic as well, but I did feel the need to comment, because it was a reminder to me of how I’m still figuring out how to set aside old, easy (and shitty) ways of expressing my anger and frustration. Ha ha! Trump is fat, so he’s bad. Ha ha! Trump has a tiny penis, and we know he’s super sensitive about that, so he’s bad.

Ew. No. He’s bad for a whole lot of reasons, but having a human-shaped body with some form of genitalia is not one of them.

Rich Smith said in the Stranger:

“I’m not personally offended by any of these things—the body-shaming, the backhanded insult to the trans community and to women, the gender restrictive expectations for men—but it’s easy to see that nearly every element of the statue rests on harmful stereotypes. All stereotypes are cliches, and cliches make bad art. The piece fails on its own terms. It’s made using Trump’s sense of humor, Trump’s aesthetic texture, Trump’s sensibility. It makes us all into Trump supporters. (Side note: If that’s the point of the work, then I take everything back—it’s WAY more sophisticated than it appears.)”

I actually am personally offended, because body shaming and ideals of masculinity and femininity are all kinds of fucked up and affect everyone to some degree, but setting that aside, I like the rest of what Mr. Smith says in that paragraph. This is lazy art meant to get people laughing and not thinking.

It’s like when people make jokes about Chris Christie eating a donut. Yes, the guy is fat, and he may or may not like donuts. But him being fat is not what makes him abhorrent; his policies and his statements to other human beings are what make him abhorrent.

Actually naming the issue with these vile politicians, instead of falling back on jokes that do nothing but insult people who share similar physical characteristics, is a way to call out what they are doing wrong. Donald Trump isn’t horrible for this country because of the size of his waist or his penis; he is horrible for this country because he would do things like require purity tests for people who want to immigrate here.

The Establishment (are you reading them yet? you should be) has an even better take, adding much more to the discussion:

“Additionally, ridiculing Trump and his base doesn’t make marginalized people safer. In fact, such open ridicule of Trump can have violent consequences for Black people even if they aren’t the ones doing it. Just this week a Black man was stabbed in Olympia, Washington, by a Trump supporter who felt like he needed to fight back in the midst of increasing racial and partisan tensions. Escalating these tensions through mud­slinging doesn’t serve any political purpose. It does, however, have the potential to endanger the most vulnerable people in our communities. The only people who can engage in such meaningless and potentially lethal “joking” are those whose bodies enable them to feel relatively safe in a world where Trump supporters roam freely.”

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