The Left

Trump and Masculinity

Donald Trump and Hooters
Alicia Machado
Alicia Machado
Yoseph Alicia Machado Fajardo, born December 6, 1976, is a Venezuelan-born American actress, TV host, singer and beauty queen who was Miss Venezuela 1995 and then Miss Universe 1996. She was the fourth woman from Venezuela to be named Miss Universe. During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, Machado publicly criticized the prior behavior of Donald Trump who owned the Miss Universe pageant during her reign. She was mentioned by Hillary Clinton during the first 2016 U.S. presidential debate. | Photo: Playboy | Alicia Machado, Miss Universe, Donald Trump, Venezuela, Tank Top, Breasts, Playboy, Masculinity, Hillary Clinton,

His concept of manhood is an ugly one

Some Trump supporters have a simple defense against the recently released Trump tape on which he brags about how he treats women who attract him ("Grab them by the [p-word] you can do anything."] and how he gets away with it because "when you're a star they let you do it."

The defense from Trump's supporters? It's just "locker-room" talk. "Every normal guy" says things like that. Hey, King David had 500 concubines, so Trump grabbing a woman by the crotch is no big deal, right?

There’s actually a grain of truth to this. Trump is extremely sexist, but he's not an outlier. Under the circumstances, however, is not a good defense.

Trump appears to draw a lot of his self-image from his relationship with women, and that's not uncommon among men. It's not necessarily a bad thing, either. Part of my self-image is "I love my wife and I'd do anything for her"; I know other men who feel the same about their own spouses. It becomes a toxic thing, however, when the self-image requires forcing the woman, or all women, to stay in a subordinate position so the man's image of himself remains intact.

For example, some men define their manhood by the fact they're doing "a man's job," whether that's ranching, soldiering, surgery or day-trading. When a woman does the same thing, some of those men react with fury — if they're no longer working at a uniquely male occupation, it's like the woman has taken away their manhood.

Some men define their manhood by being a protector of women. Which is fine except when they insist that even if the woman's a more capable fighter, the man shouldn't let her fight. Women shouldn't even be heroes in movies because that's bad for men.

A man defines himself by having absolute authority over his family. Legal equality for women is bad because it gets in the way of that.

Manhood is measured by a guy's ability to get laid. If women refuse to affirm your manhood by putting out, the logical response is to kill them.

Manhood means dominating all public discussion. If a woman speaks up, she deserves rape threats.

Trump seems to define his manhood by the hotness of the women around him. Women he sleeps with have to be hot, his daughter has to be hot, women who work for him have to be hot. And he's entitled to judge their hotness, whether it's deriding former Miss Universe Alicia Machado for putting on weight or firing employees who aren't hot enough to suit him. Or hitting on women or grabbing their private parts if he feels like it. Or judging their sex lives — Trump's response to the flak he received over Machado was that she was "disgusting" because she'd made a sex tape (the claim appears to be bull) so therefore she deserved no sympathy.

I am in complete agreement with Trump's defenders that he's not unique in this. Lots of guys (definitely not all) would act the same if they thought they could get away with it — and one of the advantages of being a rich, arrogant, white dude is that Trump can get away with a lot. Lots of guys share Trump's sentiments even if they'd frown on how crudely and blatantly he airs them (for some people bigotry and sexism are fine, provided they're served up with understated good taste). Lots of people share Trump's view that if a woman isn't hot enough or she's too "slutty" (the Daily Caller right-wing website threw in that Machado has also posed topless in Playboy, the harlot) she's beneath consideration as a serious person.

But right and wrong aren't a popularity contest. Sexism and sexual harassment remain wrong, regardless of how many people disagree. And as usual, there's no excuse for Trump.

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Updated Aug 12, 2017 12:01 PM EDT | More details

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