Testosterone flows freely in Trump world
It’s easy to know someone’s political preference. Just ask their view of manhood.
According to Katelyn Fossett, associate editor at Politico Magazine, the correlation between party affiliations and gender views is exceptionally high. Its poll asked for agreement or disagreement with the statement, “Do you agree or disagree with the statement ‘The Democratic Party is hostile to masculine values’?”
Republicans strongly agreed the Democratic Party is hostile to masculine views by an overwhelming 68 percent to 8 percent. Democrats denied the assertion 62 percent to 6 percent.
Viewing our political divide through gender-defining eyeglasses is remarkably revealing. Donald Trump and the Republican Party, especially on the far right, have wrapped themselves in a cloak of testosterone.
It’s not a coincidence that Trump came to power during a male identity crisis. During the last half-century, women have risen from national inferiority, if not disdain in some quarters, to growth, achievement and dignity. The definition of womanhood has glistened with progress while men have struggled with their place and identity.
Many men have pushed back, amplifying traditional masculine traits and overt expressions of super-masculinity — the macho version that blames others, denies emotions and errors, and magnifies strength.
The far right depiction of Trump as Superman captures that testosterone. Yes, the former president is widely presented as Superman among his followers. Trump, hands defiantly crossed in dominating poses and face snared in anger, are ubiquitous on T-shirts, posters and coffee cups. He is flying, cape waving or muscles rippling, in a boxing ring, triumphant as a conquering winner.
Cartoonish pictures of Trump should not be dismissed as silly characterizations. Like a vision of the man of steel, he is fighting change, fighting for his followers. As the former president protests at every rally, he is not fighting for himself against the evil elite; he is fighting for you, the victim, the aggrieved.
To any clinical psychologist, a blatant narcissist fighting for others is an intellectual challenge beyond logic. But these images are not an appeal to reason or truth. They strike at a guttural feeling that dominates the far right of the Republican Party. They appeal to those who feel the victimhood that the former president has so successfully exploited.
Trump has cultivated this version of masculinity throughout his life with an obsessive need to be surrounded by beautiful women and brag about his conquests. He came to political power with celebrity status through 13 years of headlining “The Apprentice” television series. He cemented the phrase “You’re fired” in the American language — an image of getting things done quickly and aggressively while belittling others.
While in the White House, he coddled the Proud Boys and other extreme military aggressive groups. He openly admired authoritarian Vladimir Putin and played footsie with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Testosterone and the extreme version of masculinity are integral to this man.
It’s worth remembering the “elites” Trump successfully demonized. These are the academics who look down on the less educated. These are the wealthy who attend the highfalutin’ universities. With their degrees, the doctors cite data and confine their children during pandemics. These are the elites to be beaten by a strong male figure.
Even Trump celebrity congresswomen, like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, drip with testosterone messaging. Greene famously confronted a Parkland shooting survivor early in her rise to power, and hip gun-toting Boebert’s tough images were prominent to their elections. Such behavior and rhetoric are part of the makeup of those with the greatest allegiance to the former president.
It’s not that the Democrats have never played the macho card. John F. Kennedy’s military hero exploits played well in his rise to power. However, the extreme and distorted picture of masculinity in Trump’s world would be challenging to match.
Ironically, those who promote the extreme traditional masculinity version of leadership cherry-pick the definition. Superman didn’t discriminate against minorities, abuse females and discriminate against those of different ethnicities and races. Testosterone is more than muscular strength and dominance. But then again, Trump is not a real Superman. He only plays one on the campaign stage.
Robert Pawlicki is a retired psychologist and author. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.