Trump’s Thoroughly Modern Masculinity

Susan Faludi in The New York Times:

Remarkably, in these fractious times, President Trump has managed to forge a singular area of consensus among liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats: Nearly everyone seems to agree that he represents a throwback to a vintage version of manhood. After Mr. Trump proclaimed his “domination” over coronavirus, saluting Marine One and ripping off his mask, the Fox News host Greg Gutfeld cast the president in cinematic World War II terms — a tough-as-nails platoon leader who “put himself on the line” rather than abandon the troops. “He didn’t hide from the virus,” Mr. Gutfeld said. “He was going to walk out there on that battlefield with you.” Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia tweeted an altered WrestleMania video in which the president was portrayed as pummeling senseless an opponent with a spiked coronavirus head. “President Trump won’t have to recover from Covid,” Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida gloated. “Covid will have to recover from President Trump.”

Meanwhile, the putatively liberal news media was conjuring its own version of the boxing ring: with Mr. Trump in one corner as atavistic chest-beater and Joe Biden in the other as evolved exemplar of feminist-sensitized manhood. Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden “evoke different brands of manliness,” a Washington Post article argued: Mr. Trump channels “old-fashioned machismo” — “aggressive, physically tough, physically strong, never back down” (in the words of a gender-equity educator, Jackson Katz) — while Mr. Biden models what Mr. Katz calls “a more complex 21st-century version of masculinity,” defined by “compassion and empathy and care and a personal narrative of loss.”

But what if the one thing people agree on, they’re wrong about? What if Mr. Trump’s style of bullying and bombast aren’t relics of the old manhood, but emblems of a masculinity very much au courant? If that’s so, we may be fooling ourselves in declaring that his noxious model is heading for a natural extinction.

More here.