Donald Trump: The Apex of American Masculinity
by WinterIsComing on November 9, 2015 - 5:10pm
The recent rise of Donald Trump within the Republican Party has many pundits perplexed but this brand of macho politics is nothing new. The role of masculinity in the political field is examined within a CNN opinion piece entitled “Is Trump the New ‘Arnold’ of 2016”. Donald Trump represents a particular brand of masculinity and political incorrectness similar to that of a Hollywood action hero. The author conveys this brand of masculinity as negative and even compares these figures as caricatures of our culture. Masculine candidates have been successful several times in American history with examples like Arnold Schwarzenegger, George W. Bush, and William Henry Harrison. The author draws parallels between Trump’s persona and several societal norms placed on men in America culture. For example Trump never apologizes, bulldozes competition, ignores political correctness, says America is ‘weak’, often boasts about his wealth, and openly displays his arrogance. The Donald is a common fixture in the American news cycle with his offensive comments towards illegal immigrants and openly misogynistic attacks on reporter Megan Kelly and political rival Carly Fiorina among many others. He often bullies the competition on the debate stage, like Jeb Bush and Ben Carson who Trump calls ‘low-energy’ and ‘weak’ because they do not exude brash arrogance like himself.
Another aspect touched upon within the article is white male arrogance is likely to lead someone like Trump to believe he’s fit for presidency despite being a political novice. Similar to the message in Tough Guise, that dominating ideologies remain invisible when discussing race, sexual orientation, and gender (Earp). Nearly all the presidents fit into the mold of white straight male until recently with Obama. Ironically, Donald Trump in 2012 questioned Obama’s citizenship perhaps because the archetype was broken and unnerved the Republican front-runner. Nobody said George Washington was the first white president they simply said he was the first president. Now Obama is branded as the first black president and perhaps Hillary will be the first women president. Exemplifying the point that the dominant ideologies always dictate the language of the narration (Earp).
As seen in the film Tough Guise, the conservative backlash to the social changes of the women and gay rights movements radicalized the conservative wing of American politics. The epitome of this conservative push was the Ronald Reagan presidency, “he proved to be a master of political symbolism, tapping deep into the myth of the American cowboy, presenting himself as a throwback version of the strong, silent type, riding into town to rescue a country emasculated by the equality movements of the '60s and the weak leadership of President Jimmy Carter" (Earp). Does this sound familiar? A masculine hero who wants to save a ‘weak’ America by reasserting conservative values. Make America Great Again! The slogan for Donald Trump’s campaign. Ironically it was also Reagan’s slogan in 1980... Reagan is just one example of many male politicians who’ve tapped into the vein of toxic masculinity. Take Arnold Schwarzenegger a Hollywood action star and former Governor of California. The CNN article directly compares Arnold’s antics to Donald Trump’s. For example this quote from Tough Guise, “And to those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say don't be economic girly-men”(Earp). This type of homophobic rhetoric plays into the macho American archetype. Donald Trump is one footnote in a dark history of American politics.
- Earp, Jeremy, Jackson Katz, Jason T. Young, Sut Jhally, and David Rabinovitz. Tough Guise 2: Violence, Manhood & American Culture. , 2013.