This week, in totally-normal-no-it’s-ok-that-this-election-is-a-giant-shitstorm news, a topless effigy of Hillary Clinton has been hung on a crane parked off of Interstate 5 in Sutherlin, Oregon. The effigy was made out of a black, rubber wetsuit dressed up in a pink bra and blazer, as well as a blonde wig. It was hung by a noose, which was attached to the crane — an effective image, if one lacking in subtlety. Alongside the effigy were three signs: One saying “VOTE TRUMP”, another “URANIUM ONE” (a reference to the scandal in which cashed flowed into the Clinton Foundation during a Russian Uranium deal), and the last “TREASON? ASK HER.”
The man who constructed the effigy was Billy Pitner. Despite requests from a local priest, Pitner refuses to take it down and says that he plans to change the signs daily. Pitner said “I'm allowed to have my feelings, right, wrong, or indifferent,” when questioned on Sunday evening. “Here you are. Got your attention, didn't it?”
Yes. It certainly has.
The effigy of Ms. Clinton fits into a lengthy history of conservatives - mostly men - painting pictures of violence against the candidate. Following her Pneumonia diagnoses, InfoWars’ Alex Jones declared that he was “in ecstasy” over the diagnosis, and that has “been containing a Cheshire cat grin all day long”.
A candidate for office in West Virgina called for Clinton to be “hung” over her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of State. Al Baldasaro, New Hampshire State Representative and advisor to Donald Trump, has said that "Hillary Clinton should be put in the firing line and shot for treason" because of her actions relating to Benghazi, and good-musician-turned-conservative-bullshit-spewer Ted Nugent has also said that Clinton should be "tried for treason & hung.”
Conservatives have been using violent imagery and wishes of threats and harm against Clinton for some time — particularly execution imagery. This is clearly rooted in misogyny. The fact that Clinton’s body is so often commented upon — that it continues to be the point of attack against her, is deeply sexist.
The language used to attack Clinton is inextricably tied to her identity as a woman — and, particularly, as a woman in power. We live in a world in which violence against women is systemic, and that fact contextualizes every piece of rhetoric implying harm — every call for Clinton to be shot, or hung, or waste away from pneumonia.
Proclaiming threats or wishes for physical violence does two things:
1. Reduces her to her physical body, in effect dehumanizing her
2. Feeds into a long history of silencing vocal women by threatening or committing violence against them.
While we are not fans of the naked Trump statue in Union Square because it was fat-shaming and transphobic (it seemed to depict Trump with comically small genitalia), there have been few real threats of violence against Trump’s body and personal autonomy, or really any of his male cohort.
So while Pitner might claim that his effigy was supposed to “get our attention”, we know that this is just another in a seemingly endless onslaught of threats and attacks against Clinton, and, in a sense, all women. While we can debate our opinion of Clinton as a politician, a leader, and thinker — a discourse that has validity, that is productive — we must recognize this effigy for what it is: a symbol of misogyny and hate.
The image of a woman, hanging by a noose, her pink shirt torn open, rendering her exposed - this is an image of sexual violence and of hatred. It is a deliberate caution against women who speak up, who speak their mind, who step out of line. Imagine, if you will, a woman driving down I-5 and seeing this. What kind of job is that woman driving home from? What kind of home is she going to? Is she safe in either of those places? What do you think she sees when she sees that effigy, swinging by a noose from that crane?
This is about politics, to be sure, but it is also about a women’s right to be a person who lives free from fear of violence and harm. There’s nothing wrong with criticizing Hillary Clinton — by all means, she is a politician, and certainly a flawed figure. But there is something deeply wrong with the culture and vocabulary of violence that surrounds the current political culture. It is dehumanizing, it is unproductive, and is unacceptable.
Photo source: YoutTube
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I'm a recent Bard grad livin large and in charge! I write and perform comedy (articles, standup, all that jazz). I'm writing a tv pilot right now about a cardiologist who is unlucky in affairs of the heart it's called "How to Get Away with Murmur."