Trump continues to dangerously shape what Americans view as proper masculinity.
Early in the campaign season, America saw 17 Republican Party candidates announce their pursuit of the most influential office in the world. One candidate’s announcement seemed to be an utter joke. Until now.
In the beginning, it was assumed that Donald Trump running for President of the United States was surely a publicity stunt, a strategy to build upon his billion-dollar real estate empire. Political pundits across the nation, the political junkies on Main Street and the policy wonks on Wall Street would never have guessed that Trump would present a real threat as the GOP nominee. Yet, here we are attempting to piece together how in the twenty-first century a man like Trump could have a chance to be the leader of the free world.
In this digital age, we seek news that is easy to obtain and makes us feel secure. Luckily for Trump, the rhetoric he spews on a daily basis is accessible. American media cannot resist what many call Trump’s “straight talk” or his tell-it-like-it-is approach. Not only is the disinformation coming from Trump easily accessible, it is also an uncomfortable reminder of the hyper-masculinity from which men today seek to separate themselves.
If another country will not work with you, bomb it. If you think Muslims are the lone terrorist threat, control them. If a woman makes you look foolish, degrade her. Trump has unequivocally communicated these ideas to men across the country throughout his campaign. Act this way and you will get what you want. This is Trump’s message, which the media throw around like grenades ready go off in the minds of men of all ages. The message seems to be that the hyper-masculinity we have endeavored to resist for so long is acceptable, after all.
The words of one man can very well spark the action of others. In a supposedly post-hyper-masculine, post-racial world, men should not be drawn to beating and harassing women, African-Americans, and Muslim-Americans to exhibit their own unjustified superiority. By encouraging this behavior during political rallies and on live television during a debate hosted by Megyn Kelly, Trump is communicating to men in this nation that it isn’t the everyday American that is making America great again, but it is us—the men—that will take back politics and restore the greatness. This is dangerous. America stands at a crossroads of masculinity.
In this election, there is no room for bigoted hyper-masculinity. This isn’t a job for just men. Voters have a choice of going with candidates who have proven track records or a candidate whose policy is the result of rash, aggressive, controlling, fear-based rhetoric. Trump has already made his mark as his ideals have split the Republican Party, bringing to the forefront out-of-date notions of hyper-masculinity that include control, aggression, and an uncompromising spirit.
As we move through the twenty-first century, Trump’s embarrassing portrayal of masculinity cannot be carried to the White House. A leader influences how young men and women perceive their world. Donald Trump’s incomprehensible overtures of hyper-masculinity build a wall around what we have accomplished in redefining masculinity as a fluid, ever-changing concept. One that can be embraced by many and positively experienced by all. Like femininity, masculinity has no rules. Now is not the time for a man like Trump to reinstate the old rules for a game that no one wishes to play.
A Trump presidency would undoubtedly allow the political sphere to negatively influence how we view the role of masculinity after coming so far in gender relations in the twenty-first century. America will never be ready for Trump’s machismo and it is time for men to build an impenetrable wall around his definitions of masculinity.
More on gender by Anthony Schullo, here.
Photo credit: Flickr/Gage Skidmore