“I don’t vote with my vagina”: why Susan Sarandon was right about the US election

“I don’t vote with my vagina”: why Susan Sarandon was right about the US election Shirley Dent

12th November 20162Comments
I don’t vote with my vagina

Earlier this week veteran actress Susan Sarandon, a Bernie Saunders supporter, bluntly told BBC Newsnight “ I don’t vote with my vagina”

Since Donald Trump’s shock triumph in the US election there has been much hand-wringing and breast-beating by so-called progressives about how it could have happened – how could anyone, particularly women, have voted for Trump not Clinton. The irony is that in their post-election whinge fest many of these pseudo-progressives have shown us exactly why ordinary folk, the rust-belters and blue-collar middle class, whether male or female, turned away from the political establishment that Clinton exemplified.

First, let’s get the female vote = Clinton supporter bit out of the way. It’s simple. Don’t be so sexist! As Susan Sarandon said when she spoke with Evan Davis when he pursued this simpleton line of questioning   “I don’t vote with my vagina.”

Darn right – I’m with you, girl. Me too. I’m a woman who votes with my mind and with reason and with my interest at heart. Not with a gender mirror of myself. And not how the political elite decree I should vote. Whatever your political persuasion, the fallout of both Brexit in the UK and Trump in America has revealed on the one hand the utter disdain that those welding political and media power have for the electorate and on the other their authoritarian demand that the very same dumb demos should vote the way they want them to, accompanied by shrill incomprehension when the stupid people don’t do that and the vote doesn’t go their way.

Prime exhibit in this intolerant bleating is Lena Dunham and her cloying article  about how she felt when Clinton lost. It is a distillation of everything that is wrong with politics on both sides of the Atlantic and in it Dunham unwittingly illustrates why Clinton lost.

Let’s dissect this historical piece of intolerance. There is much you could lay into in this self-regarding, self-indulgent splurge – do you really think anybody cares about your election day outfit, Lena? – but let’s hone in on the critical nub here, the thing that really made me nauseous.

In this article Dunham is the very personification of the chattering-class celeb social justice warrior, so drowned in their own narcissism and solipsism that people are simply cyphers for their political desires and bit-part players in the tedious and insignificant drama of their feeble political angst. This is true even for the people Dunham claims to ally herself with. I almost gagged when she described benevolently “smiling at the elderly socialists on my block like it was Sesame Street.” WTF. I may not describe myself as an elderly socialist but as an ageing leftie, let’s get it clear, missy. I am not your political comfort puppet and I don’t need a patronising pat from you and your projected beliefs.

But it’s when she talks about the great unwashed that dared not to vote for Clinton that Dunham really lets loose with her intolerance and her contempt. And it’s women that really get it in the neck from this self-appointed spokesperson for 21st-century feminism: “It’s painful to know that white women, so unable to see the unity of female identity, so unable to look past their violent privilege, and so inoculated with hate for themselves, showed up to the polls for him, too.”

What white women are you talking about here, Lena? What privilege? I can’t speak for these women and neither can you. Perhaps they are self-loathing, billionaire misogynists with a thing for Trump. Perhaps they are women who have seen the industries and communities around them in the rust belt melt away as they are told, by people like you, they are intolerant, sexist, racist, xenophobes whose interests and experience don’t matter. As for the unity of female identity, get over yourself. You don’t speak for me as a woman and I have no reason to politically align with you just because we both have a vagina. Oh, and as an aside to your bemoaning in the article, in the aftermath of Trump’s victory, about aching “in the places that make me a woman, the places where I’ve been grabbed so carelessly, the places we are struggling to call our own”, as a working class woman who grew up on a North London council estate I have never struggled to call my vagina my own. And amongst my girlfriends growing up in North London if a man made a grab for our pussies in a nightclub or elsewhere, the rule was we’d knee him in the nuts. It worked.

I understand the fears over Trump’s presidency – I share many of those fears too. But there is something far bigger at stake here.

We have lived through a period in recent years of what I can only term the dehumanisation of politics. It’s exemplified in Dunham’s article as she sobs about the defeated Clinton that “It’s her job. It’s her job.” No. It isn’t her job until the American people elect her. And the sobbing of Dunham and her ilk is because those dumb-arsed thickos, those grubby white women inoculated with their own self-loathing, didn’t act as automation extensions of the political elite’s superior understanding. Like Brexiters in the UK, they voted as human beings, putting what they believe to be their own interests, the interests of their families and communities, first. Isn’t it just terrible when those pesky human beings get in the way of the ‘right’ result in a democracy?
In the aftershocks of Brexit and the US elections, whatever your political beliefs, whatever your gender, whatever your colour or culture, if you are a true democrat the thing we should take heart in is that the human is biting back in politics. If you didn’t like the result, then have a better argument and vision to win hearts and minds to what you believe is right. Because what Brexit and the US elections have shown is that in a democracy it is not the will of the political elite that matters. It is the will of the people.


First, let’s get the female voter = Clinton supporter bit out of the way. It’s simple. Don’t be so sexist! As the veteran actress Susan Sarandon, a Bernie Saunders supporter, bluntly told the UK’s Evan Davis when he pursued this simpleton line of questioning on Newsnight “I don’t vote with my vagina.”


  1. We need more voices like Shirley’s out there. I’m in Canada, watching events unfold south of the border. As a working class woman–who went on to get an education–I feel the same way Dent does. I’m frustrated by the snowflakes and their handwringing when it’s obvious there’s real work to be done. JD Vance, another working class voice, explains this well in his book Hillbilly Elegy. Brexit and Trump are heralding a change.

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