Panelists Discuss Impact of Race and Gender on 2016 Election

Religion predicted to have a lesser influence

Thursday evening at Northrop Hall, University of Minnesota professors Mary Vavrus, Enid Logan and Jeanne Kilde gathered to discuss the intersection of Race, Gender and Religion in the 2016 election. The event attracted a mix of nearly 80 spectators made up of students, faculty, and citizens of all ages. One by one, the professors approached the podium, each analyzing a different aspect of this year’s perplexing presidential race.

Illustrator: Weiying Zhu

Illustrator: Weiying Zhu

Mary Vavrus, professor of communication studies, spoke first, positing that Trump’s seemingly inexplicable nomination and Clinton’s demonization can both be drawn back to the sexist standards enforced by entertainment media, where women are held to an unrealistic standard of beauty and comportment, while men are glorified for toxic displays of dominance and aggressiveness. Vavrus asserted that Clinton’s failure to adhere to these standards has made her an easy target for sexist criticism, while Trump’s excessively violent attitude has, against all odds, won him a stable base of supporters.

In her address, Sociology Professor Enid Logan dug deep into the white male psyche, explaining how the Trump voting bloc was drawn in by Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, which plays on a historically popular campaign trick used to harness the “anger found among white American men’s perceived loss of racial, gendered and global dominance.” Later, Logan explained #iguessimwithhergirl, a hashtag phenomenon used by displeased voters who plan to vote for Clinton, not because they support her politics, but because they wish to prevent Trump’s election.

Finally, Religious Studies Professor Jeanne Kilde took the stage addressing the recent fracture in the historically right-leaning Evangelical voting bloc. Kilde explained that while some Evangelical groups are “not willing to abandon the Republican Party, which they see as the only party of Christians,” many other Evangelicals are unwilling to vote for Trump due to his character, which they perceive as unsavory, thus splitting the vote. Kilde also touched on the impact of the 2016 election on American Muslims, who Trump has consistently targeted in speeches.

After their initial addresses, the three professors answered audience questions, ranging from the difference between liberal and conservative racism, to how the crisis of capitalism has influenced the election. Following the event, audience members eagerly approached the lectors for one-on-one conversation.