What are humen to do in the age of Trump?2 months, 19 days ago
Donald Trump represents far more than a setback for women. He also represents the failure of men to deal with their own questions of gender
Men: Period to Listen. So read a sign on the National Mall in Washington during the Womens March protesting against Donald Trump the day after his inauguration.
Now that the womens movement has become the spearhead of resistance to the Trump administration, a pressing question has emerged for half the population: what role, if any, are men to play in the crisis of gender politics that is inevitable over the course of the next four years?
The situation has, in one sense, simplified tremendously. The elaborate labyrinths of identity politics have disintegrated and left with basic questions of fundamental human decency. Trumps actions as chairwoman, more than his demeaning behaviour on the campaign trail, are intentionally maintaining females from power and attacking programs that promote their health, both in the US and globally. Feminism as humanism the very basic idea that females are people is now under threat. Any man who claims to possess a shared sense of humanity with women must stand with them.
The evidence has become too glaringly obvious. Who could exemplify more perfectly rape culture than a man who was elected president of the United States while boasting about sex predation? What more proof do you need that females face structural disadvantages in the performance of their duties lives than Hillary Clinton winning the popular referendum by virtually 3 million elections and still losing?
But Trump represents far more than a setback for women. He also represents the failure of men to deal with their own questions of gender.
Trump is new. He is not like the straight white males who came before him in the office of the presidency. He is a charade, a simulacrum of masculinity conjured by self-loathing and self-aggrandizement, a reflection of the tormented, contradictory state of contemporary men, the Red Pill constructed flesh.
Trump represents not masculinity in victory, but masculinity in decadence.
Two contradictory procedures are at work. One is the rise of women to predominance of the middle class; the other is the intractable continuation of male power at the top. Since 2000, girls have increased their workplace participation in most countries in the world. Across the OECD, the pay gap significantly decreased between 2000 and 2011. In the United States, the number of households led by women has been increasing since the 60 s and currently stands at around 40%.
At the same hour, girls are kept from the top postures. There are any number of ways to register this fact, from a comparing of the compensation for male and female movie stars, to the number of women who are full professors, to the scandalously few women who are equity partners in law firms.
These two contradictory tendencies create a world in which the relationship between gender and power is increasingly nonsensical. Masculinity remains emblematic of potency while it becomes, in daily experience, a condition of failure. In an essay for the Atlantic magazine two years ago, I described this turbulent contradiction as the hollow patriarchy. I can think of no purer icon of hollow patriarchy than Donald Trump.
The hollowing out of the patriarchy is set to increase. Trump has the most male cabinet since Reagan, and the decline of men in the middle class is going to continue no matter what that cabinet says or does. Two weeks after the election, Otto, the self-driving truck service lately purchased by Uber, successfully delivered 50,000 cans of Budweiser. Three and a half million truck driver are currently employed in the US, an overwhelmingly male cohort. A few weeks after that momentous journey, women became, for the first time, the majority of students enrolled in American statute schools. They now predominate post-secondary education. Men are not willing to take jobs that are not traditionally masculine. Women continue to enter humen fields.
Trump has emerged as a parody of masculinity and feminism is set back at the moment when the traditional male role of provider is about to vanish. This contradictory process is far from unprecedented. During the Reagan-Bush years, the pay gap shut from 64 cents to 77 pennies, a time in gender politics that Susan Faludi famously described as a backlash.
Feminism as we have known it since the second world war is insufficient to fight Trump because Trump does not simply represent the traditional patriarchy, against which females can oppose their own collective interests. His misogyny is not of that kind. The Republicans were offered more or less a complete array of traditionally patriarchal figures during the primaries. Jeb was old papa. Rubio was young papa. The Republican rejected them all for a human who possesses not a single traditional masculine virtue, a human who cannot even tie a tie-in without videotapeing it together at the back.
We have reached the point where the old conflicts, both intellectual and political, simply will not do any more. The incompleteness of the way we talk about gender is original and terminal. It is the inevitable result of thinking through gender by beginning and ending with the position of women.
Saying we need mens liberation is of course absurd look at Trumps cabinet. But men are literally preferring not to be providers rather than to take over womens work. This is disastrous for them, for women and for the wider economy. We cannot shape men until we have some kind of critical understanding of the mechanisms of masculinity. And simply put, we do not have that appreciation. The first alumnu program devoted to masculinity surveys in the US began in 2015.
There have been calls for men to join in the feminist movement from its beginning, with two main difficulties: the first is that feminism is inherently about girls. And so feminisms message to men has traditionally been pretty simple: behave better to girls. Gender analyses about masculinity are more or less totally subsumed in the question of mens relationships to females, rather than to themselves or one another. The humen at the womens march were defined by their relationships to females, too. They were there as parents, husbands, sons. Thats not enough.
The other problem is that humen do not talk explicitly about their own gender. Or instead they do talking here gender, but almost entirely under the encompas of talking about athletics and clothes. Traditional masculinity has been silent of the subject of itself because it presumed its dominance as an inalienable fact. Patriarchal masculinity believed itself to be an authentic norm; femininity was variable performance.
Trump induces such an attitude no longer feasible. He enacts his masculinity as a game of signs. His manliness is flamboyant and histrionic. Every human will be inundated for at the least four years with masculinity as a performance. There will be no conceal from the artificiality.
In that style, Trump represents an opportunity as well as a catastrophe. The single most shocking fact of the outcome of the 2016 election was just how little gender mattered to voters: 53% of white females voted for Trump and 63% of white humen. Trump took 33% of the male Latino vote and 26% of the female Latino vote.
Those facts, in themselves, reveal how far the way we talk about gender has deviated from its reality in American life. During a campaign stop for Hillary Clinton early in 2016, Madeleine Albright declared: Theres a special place in hell for women who dont assistance each other! a line that has appeared on Starbucks cups. Forty-two percent of American girls felt otherwise, as did 62% of non-college trained girls.
The sign I ensure at the Womens March Men: Hour to Listen was held up, somewhat inevitably, by a human. We need to listen. We need to listen to women. We need to listen to ourselves as well. I couldnt help thinking that there should have been a Mens March against Trump; he represents our failure after all. But who would organize it?
Gloria Steinem famously declared that womens liberation is likely to be mens freeing, too. Trump has clarified that the opposite women bondage, mens bondage is also applicable. It is men who need to say this is not us. But then we would have to think about who we are.
Stephen Marche is the author of the forthcoming The Unmade Bed: The Messy Truth about Men and Women in the Twentieth Century.
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