Trump’s behavior has so dramatically lowered the bar for what is and should be expected of adult male behavior that it will take years to undo the regression. Come January 20, we will see if our nation’s “moral imagination” can be reignited—this time with infinitely more competent and enlightened 21st century leadership.
Even with President Joe Biden in office come January, Trumpism will still be with us, as will the Proud Boys, the faux militia Wolverine Watchmen, the civil war-promoting Boogaloo Boys, and the ex-military/police Oath Keepers.
As 2020 draws to a close, we need to acknowledge the connection between those groups’ brutish expression of patriarchy and its white-collar counterparts, like Mitch McConnell and Brett Kavanaugh.
All of us who recognize manhood and masculinity are evolving must speak out about the intimidating alpha males who pose a grave threat to society, especially at this fraught moment when COVID-19 is ravaging the world.
Trump might not be a sophisticated political thinker or student of history, but he understands something fundamental about manhood in a patriarchal culture: the system remains in place because a majority of men fear being ‘unmanned’ and losing the respect of other men more than they value abstract concepts like commitment to scientific reason, equal justice under law or even democracy itself.
How will we be able to develop a better, more inclusive leadership class that is capable of finding solutions to complex 21st century problems when our political culture is dominated by language that focuses not on what candidates say or stand for—but on the fact that the “frontrunner” failed to deliver a “knockout punch”?
Would Rep. Yoho have had the confidence to speak to AOC as he did if he knew he’d be challenged on it by other men? Would Yaser Said’s son and brother have been able to keep him hidden for 12 years if they weren’t safe in their masculine circumstance? Would ICE have turned one of its detention centers into “an experimental concentration camp” if they thought they’d face consequences?
We need men to practice allyship by unlearning toxic behaviors and speaking out against those who make degrading comments about women.
Patriarchy and white supremacy permeate our country, inspired by the president’s violent words—words with power and real-life consequences: On August 3, we remember the deadly massacre in El Paso targeted at the Latino and immigrant community. The shooter in that case also wrote a manifesto that mirrored Trump’s language.
The Salas shooter’s violent actions, Yoho’s profane outburst, and Trump’s disruptive forces come from the same white patriarchy that enables white men to target women of color with impunity.
While accepting a polite gesture should come easily, it is natural that polite actions created off of a basis of gender inequality may make women squirm—it certainly does make us.
“The fact is, chivalry is a standard that is based on sexist ideals—created during a time when women were referred to as damsels in distress, and when men with power were so out of control they needed a clear set of rules to tell them not to rape any woman they saw.”
The New Yorker released a short film in which Jon Hamm voices an enlightened father who encourages his daughter to navigate the ever-daunting dating world and cultivate her own emotional growth.
The clever film flips a stereotypes on its head and encourages fathers to treat their daughters with healthy emotional boundaries.
The anti-feminist men’s rights movement advocates for a male supremacist ideology, and is described as “a thinly veiled desire for the domination of women and a conviction that the current system oppresses men in favor of women.”
The irony of a men’s rights activist murdering two men to get back at feminists goes to show, no one is safe from violent misogyny. Toxic masculinity kills.