Feminism and machismo were pitted against each other during this past Presidential election, the effects of which are still upheld today. Since the 2016 election, Trump’s most defining feature is being hypermasculine: mentioning his testosterone count, his penis size, and dismissing the famous Access Hollywood tape about him committing sexual assault by calling it “locker room talk.” President Trump, having the personality and policies that he does, has been hypermasculine throughout his presidency and 2020 campaign by acting tough, blunt, and being the poster boy for the patriarchy.
Biden, on the other hand, has gone about his campaign with a softer approach by emphasizing family, empathy, caring for others, and being a supportive family man. His campaign has expressed that men can show that they can love, acknowledge when they are wrong, and cry, while still being able to keep your masculinity. President-elect Joe Biden and President Donald Trump have different views on what is considered masculine; one values misogyny and uses it as a persona, while the other values being in touch with your emotions. This has been a huge factor in the recent presidential election, as both Biden and Trump have tried to appeal to their voters by trying to be a model for what a real man is.
Biden has been attacked left and right about his masculinity by the conservative media and community. An example of this can be shown when a male conservative on Twitter posted a photo of Biden embracing his son Hunter Biden and said, “Does this look like an appropriate father/son interaction to you?” In my opinion I see nothing wrong with this photo; all I see is a father who loves his son dearly, nothing else to it. As an example of the amount of hypocrisy in the conservative media, there are various photos and videos of Donald Trump touching his daughter inappropriately, and evidence of him saying that he would date her if she wasn’t his daughter.
Biden has not only been mocked for how loving he is towards his family, but for also following CDC guidelines by wearing a mask. On Twitter, female conservative Tomi Lahren bashed Biden for wearing a mask, saying that he “might as well carry a purse with that mask.” This communicates the message that if you show vulnerability, you aren’t masculine. To Trump supporters, a mask supports control over them, which, in their minds, is violating their rights. Republicans are twice as likely than Democrats to have a negative opinion regarding masks and the pandemic that is currently going on. This could possibly be due to their leader, Donald Trump, downplaying the virus and refusing to wear a mask in public because it is something that is “voluntary.” These are also the same people who believe that COVID-19 is a hoax and trust conspiracies that claim the virus is a vehicle to take control over us.
This is why wearing a mask creates vulnerability to Trump supporters; they are losing control to a piece of cloth that covers your mouth and nose from spreading a virus. No one’s rights are being taken away by being forced to wear a mask in public, or around others you do not live with; it’s a simple face covering. Please wear a mask in order to keep those around you safe.
We are in a pandemic, and the CDC has said multiple times that masks are essential to preventing the spread of COVID-19. Everyone in the world is extremely vulnerable to contracting the virus. Therefore, it is not just about wearing the mask, but rather it is also crucial in order to protect everyone around us from getting sick. Just because Donald Trump decides that wearing masks is only voluntary and has declined being photographed with a mask various times because he “didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it” doesn’t mean he’s in the right. Additionally, he has also mocked Joe Biden for following CDC guidelines for wearing the mask. This all has to do with masculinity; after Donald Trump was released from the hospital when he was being treated for COVID-19, he said the biggest prescription for what helped him survive was not being scared. “Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it,” he said in a video from the White House. This is honestly the dumbest advice I have heard anyone say about the pandemic. We cannot get rid of a virus or fight it off just by not being afraid of it. This is not masculinity, at this point; it is irresponsible behavior that ended up killing 286,000 people in the U.S. because Trump did not take the pandemic seriously.
This example feeds the stereotype that men don’t really care about their health at all. According to the New York Times, men are most likely not to follow public health guidelines such as wearing seat belts and helmets. With President Trump not wearing a mask, he is feeding into the stereotype of men not following guidelines that pertain to their health. At this point, President Trump is weaponizing masculinity. He has constant media attention and is making the act of wearing a mask political when it has nothing to do with politics at all. Trump could have taken another route if he wanted to make masks manly. He could have said wearing masks helped to protect people, and is very patriotic — but he didn’t.
President Trump is aggressive in his politics, making them flawed. He has fueled many disputes with foregin leaders and even with politicians in the U.S. because he doesn’t want to compromise, as it is a sign of weakness. Trump has insulted Nancy Pelosi by calling her crazy in the past, and has given Chuck Schumer the nickname “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer,” since both are in the Democratic Party. This tactic belittles men by calling them “weak,” or “little,” all while he insults women based on their looks or attitude by calling them “hysterical.” Trump’s masculinity drives how he acts, especially in politics and how polarized it has become.
On the other hand, Joe Biden isn’t very aggressive when it comes to his politics. He also profits from masculinity, just not in the same way as Trump. This can be seen when he states that he wants to “beat the hell out of” Trump, all while trying to suggest having a pushup contest with him, too. To add, Biden has also acted inappropriately with women and has laughed them off before; Biden stated that he had permission to hug International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers President Lonnie Stephenson at a 2019 event without asking first. Although, Biden has tried to show himself off as a family man throughout his campaign — an example of this is a video of Biden hugging victims of mass shootings, and comforting them saying, “You okay? You’ll be okay. We’re gonna be okay. We’re gonna be okay. I promise.” Biden’s type of masculinity is called enlightened masculinity — meaning that masculinity in itself is not enlightened, and needs modification. Biden may be empathetic, but there is a lot of room for him to grow when it comes to him being caring and warm, mainly to female voters.
Overall, things that are deemed feminine in men shouldn’t take away from their masculinity. Men and women should be able to act how they want without any repercussions or having to endure insults against their gender. A woman can do anything a man can do and vice versa. A nation that criticizes men for wearing a mask, or caring about their children, is horrible. These stereotypes that men have to be tough, headstrong, and emotionless is dumb, and honestly damaging to one’s identity. With gender roles evolving so much, it’s difficult to see two old, straight White men running again for presidency, as they are a part of a culture that is too traditional. There needs to be more representation within politics, and having two “masculine” men in office isn’t doing that.
Feature Image: Courtesy of AP Photos