Hypermasculinity and Trumpism.


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I’ve been noticing a huge and (to me) obvious difference between Trump supporters and those who oppose him.  Much has been said about the tendency of Trump supporters to have more authoritarian personalities than the norm, and that is true, but why is authoritarianism so attractive to them?  Why do they hate democracy?  Don’t they want to think for themselves?  Don’t they want to live in a free and inclusive society that values empathy for others and the Golden Rule (which we were all taught in kindergarten)?

The other day I was following a Twitter convo between some Trump supporters talking about Matt Whitaker, Trump’s new Acting Attorney General.  They were all talking about how Whitaker looked like a guy who wouldn’t take crap from anyone, and would rule with an iron fist. They admired Whitaker’s pumped up, hypermasculine physique, his cold, expressionless features, and were almost reverently comparing him to Mr. Clean (who would, of course, clean up “the swamp”).

The kind of people I observed conversing on Twitter, like all Trump admirers, don’t seem to care about the lack of checks and balances and the deep corruption in Trump’s administration.  In fact, they love the idea of Trump having as much power as he desires (which is unlimited as his need for power and adulation is insatiable), so he can push through his cruel and destructive agenda.  In Whitaker they see a tough, merciless enforcer. And yes, they actually used the word “enforcer.”

This same group was making fun of Rod Rosenstein, Jeff Sessions’ deputy Attorney General (who seems to have been demoted since Sessions was fired and Whitaker came on the scene) for his “girlish, wimpy” appearance.  One of the group even posted a meme of Rosenstein as a 90 lb weakling getting sand kicked in his face by (you guessed it) an exaggeratedly muscled Whitaker who looked like he was pumped up on massive doses of steroids.  This group was not all males.  In fact the person who posted the meme was a woman.


Far right paramilitary groups like the Proud Boys embody Trumpist hypermasculinity.

Trump supporters see the exaggerated stereotype of the “macho man” as what a “real” man should be.  Someone like Rosenstein (or any man who believes in doing the right thing, has empathy or humility, or who opposes Trump for lacking those qualities), they see as weak and  feminine, an affront to patriarchy.   Trump supporters believe a real man shows no “soft” emotions, never apologizes, is never at fault (or at least never admits fault), can break the law or do cruel things to other people as long as they get away with it or it’s a means to an end they believe is “good,” and dominates everyone who they perceive as beneath them, which is just about everyone.

In a leader, Trump supporters regard “soft” traits such as empathy or mercy, as undesirable because they are stereotypically “womanly” traits, and women are believed to be inferior to men.  I suspect most Trumpers had authoritarian fathers who demanded girls act like girls and boys act like boys.  That would explain Trump/Whitaker’s appeal among right wing evangelicals, who celebrate authoritarianism and patriarchy.   This same mindset also explains the hard right’s obsession with guns, and the primacy of the Second Amendment over all other rights bestowed to Americans in the Bill of Rights and Constitution.

Trump supporters seem to find nothing wrong with Trump’s bullying, cruel insults and namecalling and in fact seem to think it’s a plus.   Yesterday, in one of his increasingly unhinged tweets, Trump deliberately mangled Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) last name into a profanity (no need to repeat the word since I think it’s pretty obvious).   Another Trump fan tweeted this in response:

Some might say this isn’t becoming of a President. That’s ok…I didn’t vote for him because of his impeccable decorum skills. Give me a Commander in Chief that cuts thru the bull, gets things done, has a backbone, is a Patriot thru and thru, & actually keeps his word anyday [sic].

You’re not imagining things.  Trump’s followers are actually praising Trump for his puerile butchering of Schiff’s last name. They find ways to spin his worst traits and most immature, childish, and cruel actions and statements into actual virtues and good deeds.  It’s really rather remarkable the way they can so glibly make excuses for his worst behaviors.

My conclusion is this:  the values of Trump supporters involve a deep admiration, even worship, of “strongmen” figures:  hypermasculine, even abusive, men; physically pumped up, emotionless, violent, without mercy, dictatorial, punishing, and bullying.  They don’t want a president of the people, a president who brings us together as Americans;  they want a president who “sticks it to the libs” and others they don’t like. Trump shares their hates and fears, and they love him for it, even if he destroys the country we all share in the process.

“Republican Jesus.”


Related to the above, I’ve often seen Trump supporting evangelicals talk about “Christ as a warrior,” rather than a compassionate friend. The “Republican Jesus” memes are, unfortunately, not exaggerations.  Dominionist and far right evangelicals depict Jesus Christ not as a loving figure of grace and forgiveness, but as an angry warrior out to avenge sin using the most terrifying and violent methods imaginable.  He is especially enraged by sexual sins like abortion and homosexuality (strangely, rape and adultery don’t seem to be issues, given “chosen one” Trump’s immoral sexual behavior and failure to repent or humble himself before God).  Of course, the sins of greed, wrath, exploitation, cruelty and indifference to the “least of these,” destruction of the earth, and bearing false witness are all considered fine since they are just a means to an end (establishing God’s kingdom on earth, a heretical teaching which doesn’t even appear in the Bible they’re always thumping).

Their hyper-Calvinist God favors his “elect” who apparently can do no wrong, and as a reward, he showers them with wealth and power.   For the rest of us, God exists only to mete out punishment and condemn us to eternal hellfire.   Even Jesus is seen as a violent, warlike, avenging figure, and this explains extremist evangelicals’ infatuation with Old Testament legalism and punishment over the Gospels.   The caring, compassionate Jesus of the New Testament isn’t an appealing figure for them.  A few weeks ago, at a “Religious Liberty” meeting full of extremist evangelical Republicans, a Christian preacher was taken out in handcuffs for quoting New Testament scripture (specifically, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ most important and famous sermon).

Trump supporting evangelicals believe both Trump and Whitaker were sent by God to do his holy bidding (at least according to the group I observed on Twitter, who said they believed Whitaker, like Trump, was anointed by God).  The goal is to destroy all of “the liberal establishment” and by logical progression, all liberals (who I think are hated not so much because of what they believe, but because they are associated with softness and all traits they regard as “feminine” and also include a great many more women leaders and nonwhite people).

13 thoughts on “Hypermasculinity and Trumpism.

  1. It seems there is only one book in the New Testament that the Dominionists really like, Revelation, where the Warrior Jesus image is central. It is also a main reference of the End Times story and imagery.

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    • Yes, and they also like Paul, because Paul was kind of a patriarchal horse’s ass. But the Gospels” They might as well not even exist.
      They LOVE the OT, especially Leviticus. I wonder why they even call themselves Christians, and not Old Testament Jews, since they love the old Jewish legalism so much.

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        • You’re right, they never mention Job. Because Job was a good, godly man who suffered. They don’t believe godly people ever suffer, suffering is for sinners.
          I like the book of Job and I can see why many people find it comforting, though I have always had a problem with God and Satan making a kind of “bet” on Job and using him as a pawn in their game.
          But yes, you are absolutely right they cherrypick only the books in the Bible they like, which are the ones focusing on sin, punishment, and God at his most angry and unforgiving. It’s all a means of control.

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          • I so agree about that little wager. A “god” who would do that does not deserve to be worshipped. And get the way Satan manipulated “god” by making him think he had to prove Job was loyal even if he wasn’t rewarded for his loyalty. Sounds very egotistical of him to expect loyalty under those circumstances. Not to even mention the sending to Hell bit.

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            • You have to remember it was written during Old Testament times, with its terrible, punishing, narcissistic God. The ancient Jews were a very authoritarian and legalistic bunch, and were always injecting their own beliefs about God and Satan onto spiritual matters, which they knew very little to nothing about.

              But taken at face value, as a story, Job has brought comfort to many, the story of a good and godly man with many possessions who lost everything but still kept his faith in God. The reason why he lost everything really isn’t that important if you look at it as a message about material possessions not really amounting to a hill of beans compared to one’s faith that it will all be restored eventually.


          • The other part of Job they avoid is the speech from the whirlwind with all its “Do you know ___?” questions, and the reminder not to presume to comprehend the totality, mind, and ultimate mystery of God and Creation. That is a message that those whose pride leads them to think they speak the only truth of the Divine Will cannot allow. And, it is that conversation that allows Job to give up asking, “Why me?”, and be healed, another bitter pill to swallow for those who justify others’ suffering as the price of their sins.

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            • He does brag a bit there. Another view of it is God saying that if the mortal really wants to understand Him, these are the sorts of questions he must seek to answer, a challenge clearly taken up by some devout believers such as Galileo, Copernicus, and Newton in their time.

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  2. Your discussion of “hyper masculinity” brings to mind Camille Paglia who has critiqued society’s dissing of masculinity. I wonder if this trend is the result or reaction to the media talking heads stressing the helplessness of society in face of enemies. Maybe these people are fed up with feeling “weak” and being forced to allow trends they don’t like. Trump came to power bragging how he was going to take control and not put up with anything any more. I had noticed, before Trump came along, Chick Comics (the fundamentalist Christians) exaggeration of masculinity in it’s heroes. The new evangelisms reminds me of Isis. The whole thing seems to be leading to a (un)Civil War. If so, I predict it will be bloody. Even I, supposedly a leftist, feel extremely intolerant of the Trump group. Then I remember the issues in which I agree with the right.

    I said, when Trump was elected, we are in for “interesting times.” Looks like it’s going to be more than I could have guessed. Millennials! Please save us from ourselves.

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