The American President represents everything wrong with toxic masculinity and male privilege.
Donald Trump flaunts his power, his wealth, his women and an unapologetic abandonment of common decency. For centuries, America has fostered a culture that places men in a dominant position by default of their gender. The indoctrination into this expectation by birthright has demonstrated over and over again that straight, white, cisgender men possess a “promised” perfect future and society never prepared them for failure or for facing the consequences of their actions.
Donald Trump, and other men of his ilk have become the embodiment of alpha male status, and those who have not achieved that, be it by economic or general life misfortune, believe that he is who they should be- who they have every right to be. Indeed, it is the desire of most men who perceive themselves as perfect specimens; They’re heterosexual, hyper-sexual, white, cisgender and identify as christian. Having fallen perfectly between the social goal posts set for the men of our species, they outwardly resent being denied the unobstructed pathway to privilege that they think they’re entitled to on the basis of these factors alone. Therefore, Donald Trump is more than just a world leader, he is an ideological manifestation of themselves.
In fact, most come to the defense of Donald Trump and will continue to do so no matter how backward, antagonistic or divisive he proves to be. Why? He is their icon. They wish they could speak about women as if they were mere objects who exist solely to fulfill their sexual desires. They want to rub their privilege in the faces of the disenfranchised. They want to be free of the “Snowflakes” who have the audacity to expect they should be treated with civility and respect. They want to be able to take what they want from those they deem as lesser human value. They want to dangle beautiful women off their arms like expensive accessories while maintaining loyalty to none- remember, Trump has had three wives and cheated on them all. They want wealth without earning it, honor without deserving it and unrestricted access to opportunity. They want to comfortably assume themselves invulnerable to critics and the burden of law. This is who Donald Trump is.
Trump and equally men like Brett Kavanaugh, view themselves as figures beyond reproach. Honesty is not required of them. Public opinion must be shaped by their narrative alone, not facts. They anticipate themselves being exalted as effigies of perfection, to be envied by those of us who don’t meet societies standard of acceptability.
There is a heavily embedded mechanism ingrained in Men from their first steps. The impression is fostered that their gender bestows upon them preference and their behavior is without liability. Science has proven that male children experience dismissive attitudes toward their acts of aggression and implied dominance from a young age. Girls, in contrast, are given more stringent behavioral guidelines and told to excuse the way they are treated by boys. Historically, girls are shown that, no matter how cruel, uncomfortable or imposing a boy’s behavior is, it comes full circle with what they’ve been taught; “He pulls your hair because he likes you.” Or, “Boys will be boys.” Important to acknowledge is that, biologically, boys are not predisposed to aggression and girls are not hardwired to be submissive. These are learned traits stemming from societal and cultural traditions.
There are a million examples of boys being given preferred treatment; From coaches giving passing scores to a failing high school athlete so he can play, to leadership roles inhabited solely by men, whether in religion or politics. Women have observed a world where they are not afforded merits for their achievements while men have been given a fast pass for achieving less by comparison.
The expectations men develop are perceived as rational because this is what they bare witness to from early development. We can watch Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford speak with eloquence, honesty and respect to the circumstances and environment she is in. She admits she is frightened. She is eager to accommodate, even politely asking the panel if it’s okay if she takes a break. Meanwhile, during his testimony, Kavanaugh becomes hostile, belligerent, attacks Senate leaders by asking them offensive questions and is still being given a Supreme Court appointment. It is also relevant to point out that Kavanaugh, aside from his theatrical meltdown while being questioned, perjured himself at least four times. However, men protect men. That statement is exhibited in his egregious skirting of facts under oath as male Senators, even knowing this, fight to appoint him to the highest court.
Indeed, he was lauded by the male members of the Judiciary Committee to the point of it being unsettling to watch. In leaping to his defense, we watched pack mentality come into play as Senator Lindsay Graham infamously became just as hostile toward Kavanaugh’s opposition. Of course, the entire Republican faction of the committee refused to participate during Ford’s testimony, only appearing once she was gone, and only to defend her alleged attacker.
The “Boy’s Club” that is politics stands as a blinding reflection of its thriving at every level in modern society. Despite Marches for equality and the #MeToo movement, the Nation watched, and not for the first time, a woman be dissected, dismissed, insulted and her experiences minimized by Men in positions of power and authority.
Men also watched. The message they received was far more favorable than that which women received. It is not a far departure from what they know to be their reality. Men are paragons of morality and truth and women are an inconvenience, they are liars, and the worst crime a woman can commit is standing in the way of a “Fine man with a bright future.” That is how the case of Brock Turner, an ex-Stanford student who raped a woman behind a dumpster, was presented. Despite being caught in the act of rape by passing pedestrians who pulled him off of an unconscious woman, Turner found immense support from men on social media. His victim, in contrast, was blamed for her own assault. Turner was sentenced to six months in jail and served three. His victim? She will suffer a lifetime.
To no one’s surprise, Turner attempted to appeal the decision- because how dare anyone compromise the reputation or promised privilege of a wealthy, white, straight young man- for the sake of a woman.
Affluenza; That’s the strategy that Ethan Couch’s attorney made after he plowed through a small crowd of people while driving under the influence, killing four. It was argued that Couch, being from wealthy family, was not capable of comprehending the severity of his actions, nor gauging the consequence of them. He was sentenced to 10 years probation.
Of course, that was unacceptable to Couch. Part of his probation required he remain sober and shortly after his controversial sentencing he was captured on video drinking at a party. Aware that the video had been circulated on social media and fearing accountability for breaking the terms of his probation, he fled, with the aide of his own Mother, to Mexico before being extradited back to the USA. As a result of fleeing, he was sentenced to a mere 2 years in jail.
Trump only reinforces the heinous perception that men should be exempt from consequences, socially or legally. Men have watched one of their own shamelessly parade things that were once shameful, brag about grabbing women by the genitals, thumb his nose at diplomacy by picking fights with leaders of allied countries, mock the disabled and bully those he deems weaker or who refuse to subscribe to his self aggrandizing claims. He wants you to know his hands are big, that he’s the healthiest President in history- even if he has to write his own medical report. He assures his supporters that he knows the best words, huge words. He boast to contentious North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that his nuclear button is bigger than his. Although accused of sexual misconduct involving 19 separate women, and even once accused of rape by his ex-wife Ivana Trump, he arrogantly boasted about his sexual prowess and performance during his televised campaign rallies.
Trump ensconces the idealist role of men. They, too, want to be beyond reproach, speak without fear of retaliation, dictate their own rules and be virtually worshiped in full celebrity form, complete with a bevvy of adult film stars on speed-dial. They, too, want to rebel against modern movements and the encroachment of equality- the thing they fear most. They, too, want to be hailed as proverbial hotel-trashing rock stars; Social anarchists without the risk of repercussion. In that context, many men view Trump as who they desperately long to be. They defend him like flagellants protecting their messiah. His reckless eschewing of conscience and blatant, antagonistic frat-boy attitude proposes the idea that if he can do it, they can as well.
But what of the women who support Trump? Those carrying “Women for Trump” signs who are sat strategically behind him at every rally so the world can see the supposed diversity and reach of his support. A logical person must ask: How does a man with such a despicable track record with women somehow elicit their support?
As mentioned before, women are groomed from birth to exalt men above themselves and are often complicit in their own silence and ultimately, their own invisibility. The passivity of women works to the advantage of those wielding power over them. Possessing something akin to Stockholm Syndrome, wherein victims begin to identify with and even defend their attackers, they come to regard men like Donald Trump as pillars of strength; Brave and righteous warriors who they presume know far more than they do, thus can act more effectively than they can. They have been indoctrinated into the belief that between themselves and Trump, there is no equivalency. He is the penultimate male and because they are of lesser substance, they must champion him, regardless of whether or not it damages them as women. These women have been described in dystopian fiction as Handmaids. They are subordinates. They leverage no power and are satisfied with endorsing their own oppressor because they inherently believe a man is more capable, more worthy of power, more wise. If he says it, it must be right and true and for the better of all. Even when he lacks a modicum of respect for women.
Men hold him on a pedestal because he is the embodiment of their aspirations. They want to mimic his behavior and thus rally with alarming confidence behind his often vile remarks and grotesque attacks levied against vulnerable people. He is clearing their path.
Trump is the phenomenon that is white male revenge.
As men have found that a shift in social consciousness requires they take responsibility, even for decades old cases of abuse of power and gross misconduct at the expense of women, Trump himself is leading the charge to push them back into the antiquated era of silence and subservience. He is currently campaigning to paint men as hapless victims of female rage and branding the #Metoo movement as nothing more than a conspiratorial effort to displace men from their thrones of self-appointed superiority. During a rally in Mississippi, Trump took to the presidential podium and parodied Christine Ford. The American President mocked a woman alleging sexual abuse. He was cheered for doing so.
He attempted to provoke sympathy for Kavanaugh, who he claims has had his life “torn apart.” He warned all Mothers who support him, naturally appealing to the nurturers- the compassionate members of his audience who he would normally deride as weak for being women- that one day their Sons could be in danger. “Mom,” he began in a whiny voice, “I got a job at IBM. Mom, I got a great job at General Motors. Mom, some stranger, someone I’ve never met accused me of doing something terrible, Mom, something I didn’t do, now I’m being fired, Mom.” His repeated use of the word “Mom” was masterful manipulation meant to play upon the emotions of the very women he has degraded for being… overly emotional.
He invoked the term “Innocent until proven guilty!” in the case of Brett Kavanaugh, but how can we forget that Trump himself paid $85,000 for a full page ad in the New York Daily News calling for 5 black men to be put to death in 1990. These 5 men were later exonerated when another man confessed and DNA evidence corroborated that confession. New York State had to pay the wrongly accused men a settlement of 41 Million dollars, prompting Trump, in spite of their proven innocence, to call them a disgrace.
As Trump stood before his base and made a passionate case for Kavanaugh, the very mention of his accuser riled the men in attendance who are inspired by Trump’s anger; They thrust their fists into the air, booing and grunting and hissing in tribal fashion; A warcry that drummed through the auditorium in terrifying unison. A clamor of approval for their chest-beating Chieftain.
They are his soldiers. They are intoxicated by him, by his portrayal of limitless influence and untouchable tactics. In the same way young boys beam with fascination over Superman comics, grown men do the same over Trump. But Trump is no hero, he is a villain.
And this is a sad, sad reality for the rest of us.