Macho politics defined Trump’s presidency, culminating in the Capitol Riot: NPR
José Luis Magana / AP
President Trump’s house Speech of January 6 before the riot on Capitol Hill, there was a revealing moment that was easy to miss amid its calls to “fight like hell”. It was when Trump took a tangent about the Republican Governor of Georgia, one of the states Trump is angry about not winning on Election Day.
“And I had Brian Kemp, who weighs 130 pounds,” Trump told the crowd. “He said he was playing offensive lineman in football. I’m trying to figure that out. I’m still trying to figure that out. He said this the other night: ‘I was an offensive lineman. “I said, ‘Really? It must have been a very small team.'”
The crowd laughed appreciatively.
Because as random and disjointed as it may seem, it nevertheless fits perfectly into the speech: the president belittles an opponent as weak while presenting himself and his supporters as strong. Weakness turned out to be a major theme of that speech, with the president using it in particular against fellow Republicans.
“We have to get rid of the weak members of Congress, the bad ones, the Liz Cheneys of the world,” he said, calling on the Republican House conference chairman who would finally vote a few days later. , for his dismissal. “We have to get rid of it.”
It wasn’t just that speech. In the midst of all the chaos of the Trump presidency, it was infallibly consistent in his fixation on being tough – one with a very particular form of combative masculinity.
This has manifested itself throughout his political career, from small slurs, referring to major opponents like “lil ‘Marco” and “low energy Jeb”, to encouraging violence against protesters at his rallies.
This macho presidency culminated in a riot on Capitol Hill that left five people dead. The crowd was not only predominantly white, but predominantly male, observers said.
A riot “not totally unpredictable”
“The events on Capitol Hill, while dramatic and outrageous, were not completely unpredictable,” said Jackson Katz, writer and creator of the film. The man’s card, on the politics of white male identity.
In her view, while race has been central to Trump’s political strategy, gender is also inextricably linked.
“What he pointed out was not just that he’s the white person who’s going to defend white civilization, if you will, but he’s a white man who is tough, who doesn’t back down and who is strong, which embodies a certain type of masculine gravity and strength, ”Katz said.
The rhetoric of many Trump supporters reflects this. Even before Trump became president, some of his so-called “alt-right” supporters called Republicans they considered insufficiently intransigent “cuckold“and” cuckservatives. “This word is a coat rack of ‘curator’ and ‘cuckold’.
Trump supporters in Washington seemed to understand the types of male compliments Trump was seeking. When Trump was diagnosed with coronavirus, Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz tweeted, “President Trump will not have to recover from COVID. COVID will have to recover from President Trump.”
President Trump will not have to recover from COVID.
COVID will have to recover from President Trump. #MAGA
– Representative Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) October 5, 2020
In fact, the days after the riot provided new evidence of Trump’s concern for his gender. Former chief of staff John Kelly told an audience in Des Moines that Trump cannot admit his mistakes because “his manhood is at issue here,” as The Monks Registerby Donnelle Ellers reported.
In pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to help him overturn the election results, Trump is said to have resorted to misogynistic vulgarity. “You can either go down in history as a patriot or go down in history as a cat,” Trump said according to the New York Times.
Male ideals predict Trump’s support
The strong link between performative masculinity and the Trump presidency is not just anecdotal. There is a growth body of learned evidence of links between gender attitudes and Trump support: for example, in a recently published study by Terri Vescio and Nathaniel Schermerhorn at Penn State University.
“Our main finding was that people who support ‘hegemonic masculinity’, or the idea that men should be powerful, have high status, be tough and not look like women, people who support these ideals were more likely to support Trump, ”Vescio said. “And it was for men and women beyond sex, beyond political orientation, and regardless of education level.”
Again, this was for both men and women, which means it’s no surprise that women are among the rioters. In a widely shared video, Texan Jenny Cudd bragged about her role in the riots.
“We broke [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi’s office door and someone stole her hammer and took a picture sitting in a chair with the camera turned off, and it was on Fox News, “she said.
The idealization of a particular type of masculinity has gone hand in hand with hostility towards women. Research has also found a link between “hostile sexism” and support for Trump. Additionally, numerous reports since the Capitol Hill riot have cited misogynistic language among rioters towards women leaders like Pelosi and Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser.
A man, Richard Barnett from Arkansas, was pictured sitting at Pelosi’s office and later bragged about stealing a piece of his mail.
“I wrote him a nasty note, put my feet on his desk and scratched my balls,” he said. said to New York Times‘ Matthieu Rosenberg.
Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images
Trump’s broad appeal to voters and the way he emboldens right-wing extremists reflect broader global political trends, said Soraya Chemaly, executive director of the Representation Project, a nonprofit that combats gender inequalities.
“I think there’s a lot going on. I think one thing is that there is a global wave of macho fascism and male backlash against change,” she said. “And I think what we saw in Trump’s rise was part of that tide.”
Trump has taken advantage of and reinforced existing political and cultural attitudes on gender, in short, which means that when he steps down, those ideas will not go away. In addition, Chemaly pointed out, attitudes regarding gender are closely linked to those regarding race, class and party.
For now, Trump and his team are trying to spruce up his masculine image as he steps down. This was highlighted when Fox News’ Bill Hemmer asked Trump campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley last week about Trump’s feelings in the fallout from the riot.
Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer asks Hogan Gidley, Trump’s national press secretary, if the president feels emasculated by “the crackdown on social media.” pic.twitter.com/lIirtRXWhN
– The recount (@therecount) January 11, 2021
“With the repression of social networks, does he feel emasculated?” Hemmer said.
“Look. I wouldn’t say emasculated,” Gidley said. “The most masculine person to ever hold the White House is the President of the United States.”
It was one of the most salient aspects of the Trump presidency, captured in an unsubtle question and answer.