• Nonviolence NY

Toxic Trump

Masculinity varies by society and culture, but toxic masculinity is any form of masculine behavior that adversely impacts society or psychology. [1] The ideas that men should be physically aggressive or not show emotion or be mainly sex-driven or even that there exists such a thing as a “REAL MAN” are all forms of toxic masculinity that hurt men by putting them in a box. The idea that men SHOULD BE sex-driven also dovetails into the idea that men are owed sex, which contributes to rape culture and a hierarchy that envisions men as superior to women. It goes further to narrowly define behaviors as masculine or feminine, removing any possibility of a spectrum of expression and fuels transphobia, homophobia, femmephobia, and misogyny. Toxic masculinity also fuels the fear of anyone different and encourages racism, xenophobia, and even jingoism. This makes toxic masculinity a form of societal violence. Of course, this is just a crash course of toxic masculinity, and I strongly encourage independent reading on the matter. For now, on to my main point:

Donald John Trump exemplifies toxic masculinity most days. His Access Hollywood tapes bragging about his prowess at sexual assault, the spat with Marco Rubio about his little hands, the interviews with talk show hosts about how attractive he finds his daughters, and the majority of his conversations with Howard Stern all emphasize the sexual aspects of toxic masculinity. He does not shy away from the violence-obsessed drive either. His belief that football has become too “soft” even as medical experts continue presenting evidence of traumatic brain injuries is a recent example, but even during the campaign, Trump said of protesters: “In the good old days this doesn't happen because they used to treat them very, very rough.”



This piece is not just about Trump being a bully or a rotten human being or an extremely poor role model for boys and men. Trump’s brand of toxic masculinity is also making him dangerous to the international system. While there have been sexists and misogynists in the Oval Office before, Trump’s toxicity makes misogyny a global security threat beyond the societal violence. Trump’s insecurity recently caused him to respond to a goading from Kim Jong-un about his nuclear launch capabilities by claiming that his “button” was bigger and more powerful. Dr. Carol Cohn’s Slick ‘ems, Glick ‘ems, Christmas Trees, and Cookie Cutters: Nuclear Language and How We Learned to Pat the Bomb (1987) explores the masculine language of defense specialists when it comes to nuclear weapons, including some sexualized language like “penetration aids” and “soft lay downs.” [2] Still, it barely compares to the blatant euphemism that Trump had to think of, type, Tweet, and decide to leave published. On a side note, Dr. Cohn’s article is available online and well worth the read to understand the masculine permeation of the language of defense specialists.



Photo by Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash

Whenever people challenge his abilities, Trump gets defensive and aggressive and starts calling them names like “Little Rocket Man,” “Lyin’ Ted,” or “Crooked Hillary.” [3] “Nasty Woman” was yet another example of his misogyny that resulted from being challenged by a woman. His insecurity and his toxic masculinity fuel each other. It’s just a matter of time until he is baited into a diplomatic faux pas that results in violence. Trump is in a position where his toxicity can manifest in the control of international funding, the deployment or recalling of troops, or the ordering of airstrikes.

For those of you who say that toxic masculinity doesn’t exist, that this is just the way men behave, and Trump just takes it a step farther, I have two comments. I would say first, that you’re wrong because we know toxic masculinity does not encompass all forms of masculinity and not all men steer into the toxicity as does Trump. Second, even if you were right, you just essentially claimed that Trump acts upon his base desires the way an animal would, and it’s out of his control. To that end, stop defending the out of control, sex-crazed, violence-obsessed animal.

Toxic masculinity is a product of an environment that emphasizes conquest and glorifies domination, and it affects everyone [2]. Education and upbringing can change toxic behaviors. A child doesn’t need to learn that exhibiting emotion is a weakness or that men should be superior. Also, they don’t need to learn that there is only a binary choice between masculine or feminine. A child can learn there is a spectrum of behavior and most importantly, they can learn a bit of human decency. Another option, keep the children out of the White House until they understand how to interact with others.

References

1. Gilchrist, Tracy E. "What Is Toxic Masculinity?" The Advocate. December 11, 2017. https://www.advocate.com/women/2017/12/11/what-toxic-masculinity.

2. Cohn, Carol. “Slick ‘Ems, Glick ‘Ems, Christmas Trees, and Cutters: Nuclear Language and how we learned to pat the bomb.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, vol. 43, no. 5, 1987, pp. 17–24., http://genderandsecurity.org/sites/default/files/Cohn_Slick_ems_Glick_ems_Christmas_Trees_Cookie_Cutters.pdf

3. Flegenheimer, Matt. “Band of the Insulted: The Nicknames of Trump's Adversaries.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 5 Jan. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/01/05/us/politics/trump-nicknames.html.

4. Dastagir, Alia E. "Men pay a steep price when it comes to masculinity." USA Today. March 31, 2017.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/03/31/masculinity-traditional-toxic-trump-mens-rights/99830694/.

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