In the days after the election, people around me struggled to make sense of what had happened. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the female vote. Among women who cast ballots, 42% were with him, not with her. Most of the women and mothers I knew were shocked or angry that other women and mothers could choose Trump over Clinton.
I was very apprehensive about a President Trump. But I was repelled by the ugly stereotypes and facile theories about his supporters. In the subway and coffee shops of lower Manhattan I overheard people trying to picture the Americans who had handed Trump the election: “people who haven’t seen the world,” “no one with a daughter,” “resentful of our success,” “unskilled and no-tech,” “old and behind the times,” “duped,” “white people who are afraid,” and all the usual –ists.
In many parts of America, female Trump supporters knew they had to keep their voting intentions hidden, not just from pollsters, but from people close to them. That intrigued me. What else did they have to say?
To reach 42%, Trump had to have drawn in women who didn’t fit the stereotype. I set out to find some. Asking friends of friends, I identified dozens of women and reached out to them. Most said no. A few felt they could take part in a photo essay only if I hid their faces and identities. Others backed out when they learned that I had voted for Clinton. But seven generous women gave me their trust as well as their insights and personal stories.
I’m not a political thinker. I’m an artist and photographer, and all day long I think about making stuff. But I also like to learn people’s stories and tell them. In this project I have used portrait photography to present seven women who acted contrary to stereotypes and social pressures. I have tried to convey their character, optimism, strength and vulnerability. Thanks for visiting She’s With Him.
New York City
© 2016 Philip K. Howard