Jayne Riew is a photographer and artist who also happens to be the wife of academic Jonathan Haidt. Haidt may be familiar to readers as author of “The Righteous Mind” and co-author of a cover article for the Atlantic titled “The Coddling of the American Mind.”
Today, Haidt announced on Twitter that his wife had put together a project titled “She’s With Him.” The project combines Riew’s photographs with statements from a small group of women who defied the expectations of many around them and voted for Donald Trump. Here’s a bit of Riew’s description of how and why she put this project together:
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.
Riew published the images and quotes as a website. Here’s a small sample of what some of the women had to say about why they voted for Trump:
- Ellen D. – “I’m an artist and PhD. But wait a minute, I thought only uneducated white men voted for Trump! Not so. I’m socially liberal and fiscally conservative. I hate the stereotypes of Trump voters. In almost every social setting I find myself in I am insulted by arrogant people who assume that everyone agrees with their politics, when I would never have the gall to assume the same.”
- Natalia D. – “I remember the first time I heard “Oh, you’re the Trump Girl,” from somebody I just met. It’s amazing how quickly people label you, and how much people are afraid to be labeled. Thoughtful, nuanced ideas get shut down—even if they are coming from a prominent intellectual guest speaker. Did the lack of dissenting voices at Yale play a part in my vote for Trump? Absolutely. And that’s a big reason why I publicly say what I think. Why not? There’s an enormous culture of fear, and playing into it only makes it worse.”
- Caitlin B. – “Hillary Clinton’s brand of feminism was hard to relate to. Sure, she’s well-educated and accomplished, but she stayed married to Bill Clinton who disrespected her on a world scale with numerous affairs throughout their marriage.”
As you can see, it’s a different tone than what we saw at the Women’s March last weekend. The issue of progressives making assumptions about what people ought to believe (which I wrote about here recently) comes up a couple of times. The whole project is worth a look. You can find it here.
Special thanks to Jayne Riew for permission to use her photo of Caitlin B. to accompany this story.