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Philly Street Artist Creates Series About the “Electability” of Women Candidates

January 18, 2020

New(er) wheatpaste by Philly street artist Hysterical Men, located on Broad and Bainbridge streets, is part of larger series about the “electability” of women candidates. (Editor’s Note: I will forever put “electability” in quotes, because it’s a made-up concept that only works to maintain the status quo.)

Electability was a 4’ x 8’ installation of printed paper on plywood by Hysterical Men created for an exhibition at Little Berlin gallery last September. Hysterical Men’s artwork featured portraits of many of the leading women running for President of the United States along with words like, “Fearless”, “Likable”, and “Authoritative”. At that time, the artist wrote the following about their work on Instagram: “This piece is not an endorsement of any particular candidate(s.) Rather it is a critique of the language used to describe male vs. female politicians. This language matters in that it is an indication of the ways we, as a society, perceive and evaluate women, in general… and the amount of power and influence we permit them to have.”

In late November, Hysterical Men wheatpasted one of their portraits of Elizabeth Warren, the one with the word “Fearless”, at a few locations around Philly including the spot documented for this post. And the piece mostly remains, though like a lot of works of political street art, it’s had some additions to it over the months including some stuff promoting Bernie. (Not pictured in my photos, because I shot this wheatpaste before those additions.) And after a mostly media-fueled “controversy” between Warren and Bernie that’s caught national attention these last couple of weeks, I have some thoughts.

As someone who helped commission a three-story Bernie Sanders mural in Philly in 2016, and someone who enthusiastically supports Elizabeth Warren for President in 2020, and ultimately someone who would be THRILLED to see either of these incredible people in the White House, I believe they’re both right. I think in 2018 they had a long conversation in which they discussed “electability”, like so many Democrats have. And I think Bernie very likely wondered aloud if a woman could win against Trump in 2020 given any number of factors, but not of course his personal beliefs. I think Bernie knows a woman can win, but I do think he wondered if a woman could win in 2020. And I believe that’s exactly what Warren heard, as she’s said… I think this is an example of how people listen and remember conversations differently. Bernie questioned what many Dems have questioned, and it hit Warren right in that part of the brain/heart that lets you play it back in crystal clear clarity. At the end of the day, there’s no need for Dems to fight about it, it’s between them to sort out. And I think they will.

See past works from Hysterical Men around Philly here!

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