Thursday, November 10, 2016

Amoral Masculinity: A Theory For Understanding Trump By Christina Hoff Sommers

This is great IMO: it hits basically everything right on the mark:
I am troubled by Mr. Trump. But I am worried about him precisely because I disagree with your premise — I don’t think he conforms to conventional masculinity. Trump is a reminder of what masculinity can be like outside of conventions. He exhibits what might be called amoral masculinity. 
He lacks a moral compass. He ridicules, bullies, and threatens anyone who crosses him. He insults war heroes and disparages entire ethnic groups. He preys on women. All of this without any apparent remorse. 
This is very different from the honorable style of manliness shown by say, Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, or Barack Obama. These were and are highly assertive men, and aggressive when circumstances warranted, but who were also decorous and honorable; in a word, gentlemen. History teaches us that masculinity constrained by morality is powerful and constructive, and that masculinity without ethics is dangerous.
Some of Trump's supporters, including many women, seem to admire his vulgarity and ruthlessness. Let’s hope they are the exception. My guess is that most who support him either don’t trust the media accounts of his malevolence or care so much about certain policy issues they are giving him a pass on personal character. Or they might think Hillary is on the whole worse.
   This is, I think, a way of expressing a very serious problem at the heart of American conservatism. Smart conservatives talk a good line--and I mean that non-derisively--about many things, including masculinity. They indicate that what they admire is something like Sommers's decorous, honorable masculinity--that of e.g. Reagan and Obama. In actual practice, however, they seem to prefer Trumpish masculinity--machismo--bullying, amoral, Neanderthal thuggery.
   Sommers is great on this stuff. There are interesting things one can say about gender. They just typically don't get said in women's and gender studies departments...


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