by William Skink
I’d like to thank Democrat supporter and RD troll, larry kurtz, for bringing me back to the topic of political emasculation when he made this comment:
Thank you, liz, for another shot at the Clinton battleship with your peashooter. Rock on, doods.
I initially stumbled into this arena of political discourse through Don Pogreba’s obsession with Ryan Zinke’s hyper-masculine political brand. But that was before Marco’s little hands. Now we have on full display the GOP’s version of the politics of emasculation:
In his book, Jackson Katz writes, “Presidential politics are the site of an ongoing cultural struggle over the meaning of American manhood.” For over two centuries, presidential candidates have worked to meet masculine credentials of the job, proving they are tough, strong, and “manly men.” More importantly, they have worked to emasculate their opponents, characterizing them as too weak, infantile, or feminine to be Commander-in-Chief. This politics of emasculation is on full display in the current GOP primary, where the top contenders are engaged in fights over who is man enough to be president.
In just the past three days, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio have worked to paint each other as “girly men,” whether in traits, behavior, or appearance. A quick review of Donald Trump’s Twitter timeline in the past 72 hours reveals at least ten references to Rubio as “little” or “lightweight.” While Trump’s rhetoric implies that he is the “heavyweight” in the boxing match currently taking place in the Republican primary, Rubio countered on Friday that Trump has “never punched anyone in the face,” adding, “Donald Trump is the first guy who begged for Secret Service protection, the first guy.” Rubio’s rebuttal buys into the politics of manhood and emasculation, suggesting that seeking Secret Service protection is a sign of weakness; tough guys don’t need protection, Rubio implies, especially if they throw the first punch.
In both kurtz’s comment and Pogreba’s copious Zinke postings, the stereotype of masculine strength (and its opposite, feminine weakness) is validated through their efforts to tarnish their political opponents. What they are missing in their ends-justify-the-means political calculation is the evolving dynamic of what it means to “Be A Man” in the 21st century.
The political exploitation of gender roles is going to be an ongoing topic of inquiry here for the duration of this political cycle. I just hope my little peashooter is up to the challenge.