Trump, Treason, and Toxic Masculinity: how the pervasiveness of toxic masculinity conned America into believing Trump was a “tough guy”
Yesterday, Donald Trump committed what’s being called treason by dismissing the findings of American intelligence agencies. The agencies concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. Instead of supporting these findings, Trump took Russian president Vladimir Putin’s “word,” given to him during a closed-door press meeting, that Russia did not intervene.
As I checked my Twitter feed, Trump’s deferment to Putin was repeatedly described as embarrassing, disgraceful, and shameful — the general consensus being that Trump had groveled to Putin and Russia, and that he had — to put it frankly — behaved as a coward. Memes were immediately circulated including Putin holding Trump like a baby, Trump as Putin’s “mini me,” Putin blowing up a Trump balloon with hot air, and Trump bowing down to Putin as he sits on a throne.
In addition to calls for impeachment, there were many questions. Why was Trump afraid of Putin? What did Russian intelligence have on him? Why was he not defending America and taking a hard stance against Russia’s meddling? Why was the man who railed against immigrants, boasted about America’s military, promised to keep America safe for Americans, and essentially convinced his followers that he would be the president to stand up for America because the politically correct liberals and conservatives were “soft” not standing up to Russia. It’s clear that Trump wants America and himself to be seen as “strong,” if nothing else, so why was he allowing Russia to get away with electronic espionage and interfering in America’s democratic process.
The Soviet Union and the United States had a forty-four year Cold War — with both countries engaging in espionage — in attempts to know each other’s strategies and military secrets — in preparation for the inevitable nuclear war. More important, however, is the fact that this threat never really went away. In fact, it has recently intensified with what some are calling a new nuclear arms race.
The answer is that Trump convinced America he was a “tough guy” through his displays of toxic masculinity. The problem, however, is that not only did this never denote strength, but, as it goes with toxic masculinity, it only applied to those Trump viewed as weaker: racial minorities, children, women, employees, sh**hole nations, etc.
Toxic masculinity is masculinity gone awry. It’s damaging and destructive to both men and women. While there are many who believe that masculinity and femininity are social constructs, and damaging within themselves, the problem with toxic masculinity is more subversive. It’s obviously bad — it takes and corrupts attributes that are associated with being both male and female. Toxic masculinity promotes violence, aggression, promiscuity, and misogyny amongst men.
Don’t be mistaken — men who present themselves in a myriad of ways harbor toxic masculinity. Donald Trump, however, used it as part of his platform and appeal to his fanbase.
Trump has a long history of targeting racial minorities and inciting violence. At one of his campaign rallies in 2016, he told the crowd to knock the crap out of a protestor. During another one, he said he would like to punch a protestor in his face. His rallies became known for their nasty tone and atmosphere. Supporters and protestors regularly clashed with one another — riled up by Trump. This aggressiveness and promotion of violence, instead of raising red flags for his fanbase, only made him more popular. He was a Washington outsider, unbound by political correctness, and saying what his supporters wanted to hear.
Back in 1989, when five African American and Latino teenagers were wrongly accused of raping and assaulting a White woman, Donald Trump called for the death penalty. He said “muggers and murderers should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes.” Trumps predilection for violence has not changed.
When African American football players protested police brutality by taking a knee during the National Anthem, Trump said during a political rally that an NFL team owner should “get that son of a bit** off the field right now” when players protested. Aside from aggression, another tactic of Trumps has been to conflate patriotism with White supremacy, so where was this patriotism when he sided with Russia?
Trump took a tough stance with immigrants attempting to seek asylum in the United States by illegally separating children from their parents. If he hadn’t caved to pressure, here and abroad, and released the children to their parents, there would have been 2,551 children stolen away from their parents at the border. Today, the parents of seventy-one children have not been found. If Trump is willing to stoop to these levels, with the support of many in his fanbase, it shouldn’t have been difficult to hold Putin and Russia accountable.
During Trump’s short presidency, he has been plagued by rumors of infidelity, accusations of misogyny for his attacks on women, including their appearance, and the infamous grab them by the pu*** comment caught on tape. This comment advocating sexual assault was defended by some as “locker room” talk. Again, an example of the pervasiveness of toxic masculinity.
Trump was a “tough guy” representing everything that it means to be masculine.
Only, this wasn’t strength at all, thus leaving some of his strongest defenders dismayed that he would not rebuke the leader of the only nation who holds more nuclear weapons than the U.S., some of which are pointing at Florida.
This, however, was no shock to those of us who have long been on to Trump’s con.