Play Switches Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton's Genders and Tests How People React to Them


How would Americans have reacted to the two presidential nominees if they had acted exactly the same way they did, but Donald Trump was a woman and Hillary Clinton was a man? A play tried to find that out, recreating verbatim sections from each of the three presidential debates, with the same phrase, tone and gestures, only with a woman playing the Trump role and a man in the Clinton role.

Called Her Opponent, the play was created by a theater professor and a political science professor at New York University, and actors were cast to play the Trump character, "Brenda King," and the Clinton character, "Jonathan Gordon." The creators thought that Trump's aggression wouldn't be liked coming from a woman, and Clinton's competence and preparedness would be received better coming from a man.

What happened instead was that the audience members found "King" -- the female Trump -- to be strong and compelling, and didn't like "Gordon" -- the male Clinton -- as much, with one response saying that his constant smiling was, quote, "really punchable." NYU theater professor Joe Salvatore said of the reaction, "The simplicity of Trump's message became easier for people to hear when it was coming from a woman -- that was a theme."

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