To understand the rallying potency of Trump’s behavior and the hatred unleashed against Clinton, consider the role of sexuality in the racial terrorism committed against Black people in the United States.
In this presidential election, Hillary Clinton is particularly despised amongst white, non-college-educated men. This is the demographic that forms the base of Trump supporters. What fears and anxieties does her campaign stir up?
What Clinton Represents
Hillary Clinton occupies a white female body. Historically, white female bodies have been objectified as fragile, helpless and in need of white male protection against black male sexual predators. Delicate white purity stood above carnal desires. This core white supremacist belief was essential to the systematic control of Black people from times of slavery to the present. The racial terrorism of lynching was built on the myth of protecting white female sexuality. Mass incarceration is a further means of controlling Black people and maintaining white domination.
Hillary Clinton symbolizes a white female body that is powerful and doesn’t need protection. She does not present as a helpless, fragile Madonna. This affronts a racist white masculinity that has been buried in our social unconscious. Her powerfulness defies stereotypical weak, white femininity.
Clinton’s candidacy follows two terms of Barak Obama’s presidency. Obama has helped us reimagine Black masculinity. Not only is he the commander-in-chief – a symbol of tremendous power and authority – he is also a model husband, father, and sexually appealing man. His presence as a powerful, sexual, loving, empathic, and responsible Black man has deeply unsettled the white male demographic that has defined itself by centuries of control of Black men. The hatred unleashed against Hillary Clinton for her white femaleness is also hatred unleashed against Barak Obama for his black maleness.
What to Do
As a nation, we need to reckon with the violence of lynching and racial terrorism that has been built on this lethal sexualized fantasy. It percolates in the opposition to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. It’s time to face an un-sanitized version of our history. It’s time to be honest and reconcile with racism past and present so we don’t carry it into the future.