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Despite his best efforts and refusal to wear a face mask, Donald Trump has been branded the ‘least masculine’ president in modern history

Lily Wakefield May 26, 2020
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US President Donald Trump makes a statement in the briefing room at the White House. (Alex Wong/Getty)

A professor has attempted to understand why working class, white, American men support Donald Trump “who is, by their own standards, the least masculine man ever to hold the modern presidency”.

In an opinion piece for The Atlantic, Tom Nichols, a conservative professor at the Naval War College in Rhode Island, asked why this demographic continues to support Trump when he goes against their own cultural standards of what a man should be.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), these men tend to have a “masculinity ideology” which “endorses features such as toughness, dominance, self-reliance, heterosexual behaviours, restriction of emotional expression and the avoidance of traditionally feminine attitudes and behaviours”.

Nichols said: “I do not present these beliefs and attitudes as uniformly virtuous in themselves. Some of these traditional masculine virtues have a dark side: Toughness and dominance become bullying and abuse; self-reliance becomes isolation; silence becomes internalised rage.

“Rather, I am noting that courage, honesty, respect, an economy of words, a bit of modesty, and a willingness to take responsibility are all virtues prized by the self-identified class of hard-working men, the stand-up guys, among whom I was raised.

“And yet, many of these same men expect none of those characteristics from Trump, who is a vain, cowardly, lying, vulgar, jabbering blowhard… Trump is a rich downtown bully, the sort most working men usually hate.”

Despite Trump’s best attempts at toxic masculinity, for example continually refusing to wear a face mask during the coronavirus pandemic, Nichols said he is not as tough as tries to appear.

He said that the US president “has two particular phobias: powerful men and intelligent women”.

“Trump never seems more fearful and insecure than when women question him,” Nichols continued.

“His anxiety at such moments – for example, when he calls on female reporters in the White House press room – is palpable.

“He begins his usual flurry of defensive hand gestures, from the playing of an imaginary accordion to a hand held up with a curled pinky finger like some parody of a Queens mobster, while he stammers out verbal chaff bursts of ‘excuse me’ and ‘are you ready?'”

Working class Donald Trump supporters are “perpetual adolescence”.

The professor said the likely explanation for Donald Trump’s popularity among white, working class men is that “he is not a man, he is a boy”.

Nichols said: “Trump is a hero to a culture in which so many men are already trapped in perpetual adolescence… Trump is a walking permission slip to shrug off the responsibilities of manhood.

“The appeal to indulge in such hypocrisy must be enormous. Cheat on your wife? No problem. You can trade her in for a hot foreign model 20 years younger.

“Is being a father to your children too onerous a burden on your schedule? Let the mothers raise them.

“Money troubles? Everyone has them; just tell your father to write you another check.

“Upset that your town or your workplace has become more diverse? Get it off your chest: Rail about women and Mexicans and African Americans at will and dare anyone to contradict you.”

He added: “Donald Trump is unmanly because he has never chosen to become a man. He has weathered few trials that create an adult of any kind.

“He is, instead, working-class America’s dysfunctional son, and his supporters, male and female alike, have become the worried parent explaining what a good boy he is to terrorised teachers even while he continues to set fires in the hallway right outside.”

More: America, Donald Trump, masculine, masculinity, Men, toxic masculinity, US

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