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← The FREQ Show: 00.02 The Unmanning of Trump

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Showing Revision 3 created 05/19/2017 by Ebony Adams.

  1. “Mr. Trump...your presidency?
  2. I love your presidency.
  3. I call it “Disgrace the Nation.”
  4. You have more people marching
  5. against you than cancer.
  6. You talk like a sign language gorilla
  7. who got hit in the head.
  8. In fact, the only thing your mouth
  9. Is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s
  10. [bleep] holster.”
  11. Remember that time,
  12. back in January,
  13. when millions of Americans fired up Pinterest,
  14. broke out their gluesticks,
  15. and went arts & crafts wild like kids at camp?
  16. Armed with thousands of colorful banners,
  17. posters and signs,
  18. an estimated four and a half
  19. million people around the world took to the streets
  20. on January 21, 2017 for the Women’s March.`
  21. To remind ourselves of just a few of the reasons
  22. why people were out that day,
  23. let’s pause for a moment
  24. and listen to some words from our
  25. Commander-in-Chief that helped inspire this
  26. tremendous event.
  27. “I did try and fuck her.
  28. She was married.
  29. I moved on her like a bitch.
  30. But I couldn’t get there.
  31. And she was married.
  32. You know, I’m automatically attracted to a
  33. beautiful - I just start kissing them.
  34. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss.
  35. [laughter]
  36. I don’t even wait.
  37. And when you’re a star,
  38. they let you do it.
  39. You can do anything.”
  40. “Whatever you want.”
  41. “Grab them by the pussy.
  42. You can do anything.”
  43. Yeah, that’s our President
  44. back in 2005 when he was
  45. merely a billionaire reality TV show host,
  46. proudly admitting how he abused his power and
  47. celebrity to sexually harass and
  48. assault vulnerable women.
  49. And by the way:
  50. this may be the most famous example of Trump
  51. telling us what he considers to be the real
  52. “Art of the Deal”
  53. but it’s by no means the only one.
  54. Even before Trump announced his
  55. candidacy for President,
  56. every news cycle about him
  57. was like being stuck in a game of
  58. Rape Culture Jumanji.
  59. And partially in response to his blatant, abusive
  60. misogyny, upwards of 4.6 million people gathered
  61. in more than 550 cities in the United States alone,
  62. many of them wielding some seriously spectacular
  63. signs displaying messages of resistance to
  64. systematic racism, sexism, and other forms of
  65. oppression.
  66. But unfortunately, not all the images or chants
  67. back in January were inspirational.
  68. In fact, when you get right down to it,
  69. some of the signs and slogans
  70. didn’t just lack creativity –
  71. they actively reinforced precisely what the people
  72. holding them thought they were protesting.
  73. Punchy doesn’t always equal progressive, y’all.
  74. When you’re “joking” about the unusually small
  75. size of someone’s hands,
  76. or laughing at pictures of him in homoerotic
  77. scenarios, you’re actually feeding the same logic
  78. that encourages someone to think they can,
  79. well, “move on someone like a bitch.”
  80. Our culture tells us how a “real man” should think,
  81. what he should look like,
  82. and who he can dominate.
  83. These messages are toxic.
  84. They depend on a version of masculinity that says:
  85. “Real’ men use power to dominate.
  86. They take what they want,
  87. in business,
  88. or politics,
  89. or in their relationships with women.
  90. And yes, these messages equate having
  91. small hands -- or small anything
  92. with being less of a “real” man.
  93. Let’s look at some more examples to help us
  94. unpack how this works.
  95. In August of 2016,
  96. our last blissful,
  97. pre-election summer,
  98. a statue appeared in New York City’s Union Square
  99. of a very naked Donald Trump.
  100. The size of this statue’s genitals was clearly
  101. intended to be an insult to the man whose greatest
  102. leadership experience up to that point may have
  103. been the two times he fired Stephen Baldwin on
  104. The Celebrity Apprentice.
  105. "You're fired."
  106. From public art and social media
  107. to protests and marches,
  108. renderings like this statue are everywhere.
  109. It’s impossible to avoid the memes about
  110. hand size, poorly-executed spray tans,
  111. and combovers that are are meant to offend
  112. a certain thin-skinned individual
  113. who has a tendency to rage on Twitter and also
  114. has access to the nuclear codes.
  115. In addition to the sea of miniature members,
  116. tiny hands,
  117. and aggressively orange bouffants,
  118. criticism in public spaces has included numerous
  119. images of Trump and Putin taking their diplomatic
  120. intimacy to the physical level.
  121. Valentine’s Day proved to be a pretty great
  122. opportunity for artists intending to defy Trump,
  123. to use some homoerotic imagery
  124. to get in some jabs.
  125. But in this case, homoerotic
  126. equates to homophobic.
  127. If you use gay imagery to insult someone, the
  128. implication is that homosexuality is itself
  129. something shameful.
  130. These images don’t just criticize a political
  131. relationship.
  132. They emasculate Trump by using make-up,
  133. pregnancy, and even his position as
  134. the “little spoon” to suggest his effeminacy.
  135. These images also mock the notion of two men
  136. being together sexually or romantically,
  137. which communicates to all onlookers that,
  138. in 2017, intimacy between two “real men” is
  139. laughable.
  140. People who would consider themselves LGBT
  141. allies are deploying the kind of rhetoric that implies
  142. that anything other than stereotypically masculine
  143. or heterosexual behavior is wrong or absurd.
  144. What do we mean when we say “stereotypically
  145. masculine”?
  146. Well, the media we create and engage
  147. with too often depicts aggression,
  148. physical strength, pride, protectiveness,
  149. and even short tempers as “manly.”
  150. We’ve elevated those traits from “manly virtues“
  151. to masculine requirements –
  152. and any deviation from
  153. them makes a man suspect.
  154. The end result is that at times our entire culture
  155. seems like a backslapping locker room full of
  156. chuckleheads, and we get a President who learned
  157. diplomacy from The Little Rascals.
  158. “And what do you say if we form a new club...and
  159. call it the ‘He-Man Woman Haters’ Club’?”
  160. These images are so pervasive,
  161. And so socially entrenched,
  162. that we’ve come to accept them as natural and
  163. true, like the sun rising in the east or every
  164. odd-numbered Star Trek movie being total crap.
  165. But there’s nothing objectively true about the way
  166. our culture dictates how to be a man.
  167. In fact, this version of masculinity is only
  168. recognizable because we contrast it with its
  169. opposite: weakness, humility, and vulnerability:
  170. in other words, “femininity.”
  171. If being a “real man” means being stoic, strong,
  172. and rational,
  173. then being a “real” woman wins you a lifetime
  174. supply of timidity, weakness, and hysteria.
  175. Bonus round: the word “hysteria” comes from the
  176. Greek word for “uterus.”
  177. Associations of compassion, vulnerability, and
  178. emotion with femininity are no more intrinsically
  179. true than associations of aggression and
  180. dominance with masculinity.
  181. But in setting up this contrast,
  182. and by defining
  183. behaviors, bodies, and appearances
  184. as either masculine or feminine,
  185. our culture says that men should exhibit masculine
  186. attributes, and conversely, women should exhibit
  187. recognizably feminine traits.
  188. Cross or blur that culturally-defined line,
  189. and you’ve got a real problem on your hands
  190. – no matter how big or small.
  191. The truth is that cultural ideas about masculinity
  192. and femininity limit all of us to one degree or
  193. another,
  194. though people who identify as men and people
  195. who identify as women are impacted
  196. in very different ways.
  197. In our culture, the attributes associated with
  198. femininity are deeply shameful for “real men” to
  199. possess.
  200. There’s nothing more insulting a man can say to
  201. another man than to question his masculinity or to
  202. call him some colorful synonym for woman.
  203. Why?
  204. Because as we continue to perpetuate this strict
  205. system of only two gender options, femininity
  206. continues to be regarded as something negative.
  207. “Well, what am I then?
  208. “What are you?
  209. You are my bitch.
  210. That’s what.
  211. My own, personal bitch.”
  212. “I’m gonna make you my bitch’s bitch.
  213. You’re gonna be my grandbitch.”
  214. “Stop being such a pussy!”
  215. “You fucking shot me!”
  216. In actuality, people of any gender can possess any
  217. personality trait,
  218. and can find themselves within
  219. the binary of male and female,
  220. somewhere in-between,
  221. or outside of it entirely.
  222. But, as long as our culture maintains and
  223. normalizes rigid expectations related to gender –
  224. like, continuing to prize masculinity while
  225. denigrating femininity –
  226. these ideas about gender will contribute to the
  227. oppression of particular groups of people,
  228. including women, trans folks,
  229. and non-binary people.
  230. Ok, so you may be asking,
  231. what does all this have to do with insults hurled
  232. at Donald Trump?
  233. Let me be very clear about this:
  234. I AM NOT defending Donald Trump.
  235. This is about recognizing that “jokes” about who is
  236. and isn’t a real man are the kinds of things that
  237. Trump himself would laugh at.
  238. Yeah, we know that this kind of stuff drives Trump
  239. up the wall.
  240. But that’s not a good excuse to participate in
  241. it.
  242. We’re better than that.
  243. We’re certainly funnier.
  244. We need to challenge what many of those
  245. criticisms and insults are actually saying about
  246. men, women, gender, and sexuality,
  247. because they reinforce harmful patriarchal ideas
  248. that actually benefit people like our current
  249. president.
  250. Sure, it can be gratifying to carry a sign or share
  251. a Facebook post that would get under the skin of
  252. our quick-tempered, fast-tweeting,
  253. rarely self-reflecting President.
  254. And because Trump buys so fully into deeply sexist
  255. ideas about masculinity and power himself,
  256. questioning his masculinity can seem like an easy,
  257. effective way to knock him down a peg.
  258. But we have to think about the message we’re
  259. sending when we insult anyone using the idea that
  260. small hands are unmanly,
  261. or that two men loving each other is embarrassing
  262. - even a president who was leaving a bad taste in
  263. people’s mouths with his personal line of steaks at
  264. the Sharper Image...long before he was offending
  265. and embarrassing us as Commander-in-Chief.
  266. If we rely on patriarchal ideas of masculinity to
  267. insult and protest against someone who clearly
  268. benefits from patriarchy and misogyny,
  269. and from his own position as a straight, white,
  270. tremendously wealthy man,
  271. then we help to perpetuate these same norms.
  272. These are the very norms that help enable
  273. someone to laugh off their own history of sexism
  274. and sexual assault, and still get elected to the
  275. highest office in the land.
  276. What would actually be transgressive and
  277. challenging to Trump is a resistance that works to
  278. dismantle the very notions of patriarchy and power
  279. that helped propel him to the presidency.
  280. A resistance that defies rigid notions of
  281. masculinity and femininity and loudly embraces
  282. people of all genders and all gender expressions.
  283. So let’s stop resorting to body shaming or
  284. homophobia when what we’re really trying to do is
  285. critique the misogyny,
  286. the history of sexual assault,
  287. and the abuse of political power by someone who
  288. should have done us a huge favor and
  289. disappeared from the public sphere
  290. following his cameo in Home Alone 2.
  291. "Excuse me, where's the lobby?"
  292. "Down the hall and to the left."
  293. "Thanks."
  294. This is our brand new Feminist Frequency show!
  295. If you like what we’re doing here,
  296. please share it with your friends,
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