Who made Donald Trump go red in the face?

September 16, 2015

Sarah Levy is a Portland, Oregon-based artist and political activist, as well as a long-time contributor to SocialistWorker.org, Now, she's in the media spotlight in the U.S. and around the world after painting a portrait of Donald Trump using menstrual blood--a work she calls Whatever, in reference to Trump's typically unhinged comment during a Republican candidate's debate that a Fox News anchor was "bleeding from wherever." Levy hopes to sell the portrait at her website and use the proceeds to benefit immigrant rights aid organizations.

In this article for SW, she explains what led her to make Whatever--and why she thinks so many people took notice.

IT SEEMED completely obvious.

It first occurred to me last month, on the last day of my period, to paint Donald Trump's face using menstrual blood--in response to his comment in a Republican presidential candidate's debate that he knew Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly must be out to get him because he could see the "blood coming out of her eyes, coming out of her wherever."

I figured someone must have done it already. It just made so much sense.

It was outrageous to me that someone running for president of the United States of America--not just some small-state governor or a random rich guy, but president--could say what he did and still be in the race. To think that he could talk this way about the basic functioning of a woman's reproductive system, not just to avoid tough political questions, but to insult Kelly's intelligence--and effectively all women's--was infuriating and needed to be called out.

Think about it: If the Fox moderator had been male, would Trump have said, "Oh, maybe he just needed a colonoscopy"? Of course not.

Sarah Levy's portrait of Donald Trump, titled Whatever
Sarah Levy's portrait of Donald Trump, titled Whatever

Women were tweeting at him about their periods with the hashtag #periodsarenotaninsult, which I thought was a good start. But to me, there's more power in it if there's more humor. I think there's a way to use art, especially if it's a little humorous, to begin to deflate Trump's arrogance and give back confidence to all the people who might be a tad terrified at the prospect of a racist doofus like him running the country.

The way the painting seems to have hit a nerve with people shows that, I think. This has proven to me that, especially in today's click-bait culture, art can pry its way into the media spotlight--which, if seized, has the potential to start a conversation and say things that need to be said.

IT MIGHT seem like a small thing, but I think that an issue like menstrual shame is related to the overall body shame that many girls and women in our society are raised to feel as a matter of course. So fighting this shame is one small step toward raising a generation of confident women who have the courage to fight for equality for themselves and others.

Today, in the U.S., many women in many states don't really have the right to choose what they do with their bodies, and Planned Parenthood is under attack for the "crime" of providing women's health care--and all the while, women continue to only make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.

I think that stigma based on lies--like the idea that women are somehow incapacitated for several days out of the month just because they're bleeding--contributes to some of the "common sense" that women are worth less than men. This idea needs to be confronted and buried--so painting Trump's portrait seemed like a contribution to that process.

On top of this, Trump is trying to smash the idea of "political correctness"--to make racism and sexism "sexy" and acceptable. He may be clownish, but what he says has had a real impact on people--like the two immigrants who were assaulted by racists who later cited Trump as their inspiration.

I think Trump does need to be shut up and deflated, and any way I can help do that--like inverting his sexist comments into menstrual art--is something I'm going to do.

A friend had the idea of donating the proceeds from selling this painting to an immigrant rights organization, and that's exactly what I'm going to do. I love the potential of turning political art into something concrete that can help real people, especially if they're the ones who Trump is scapegoating the most.

Some of the many reactions that have ricocheted around the Internet in the past days are from people who say they're outraged or disgusted by the piece--or just that they think I'm disgusting.

I think what's truly disgusting is Donald Trump's blatantly racist comments about Mexicans and other immigrants and his open sexism. I think what's really outrageous is the fact that thousands of refugees from Central America--many of them mothers and children--who came to the U.S. hoping for mere survival have been locked up in detention centers.

There are plenty of things to be outraged about, but my little piece of art should be at the bottom of that list.

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