Trump Is Leaving, but the Revenge of Men Continues
Ten years after the ‘end of men,’ America has tilted back toward full-blown patriarchy — and it will continue after Trump leaves office
When President Donald Trump phoned Georgia’s secretary of state, commanding him to “find” enough votes to overturn the state’s election results, he quite likely broke the laws of this country. However, to at least one defender, the leaked call constituted an even more serious crime: a violation of the Bro Code.
“A man does not release a private conversation he has with anyone. That’s part of being a man,” wrote right-wing radio host Jesse Kelly in a much-mocked viral tweet. “Democrat, Republican, Trump, anti-Trump, none of that matters. You don’t repeat things said to you privately. That’s simple man code.”
First of all: No, it isn’t. There’s nothing particularly feminine about whistleblowing, or they wouldn’t hire Russell Crowe for the movies about it. Yet, in the dying days of Trump’s presidency, it’s somehow not surprising to see a leaked call framed as a betrayal of manhood itself. Trump was always a signifier, an attempt to take the country back for toxic white masculinity. Right-wing men’s continued insistence that fealty to Trump is an essential component of their masculinity serves as a reminder that even when he’s gone, that quest will continue.
The Obama era was often lamented by conservatives as an era of cultural “feminization,” with Obama himself epitomizing the soft, metrosexual liberal man — a latte-sipping, Ivy-educated, city-dwelling liberal who read James Baldwin and Doris Lessing, bragged about snacking on raw almonds to keep trim, and who was famously nurturing with small children and sometimes cried in public. His emphasis on empathy and sophisticated thinking and working rationally through differences were miles away from the “traditional” masculine values of dominance and intimidation and punching your enemies into the dirt.
It wasn’t just Obama. The era was marked by panicked media outcries about the “he-cession” and the “end of men,” or, more precisely, the end of the promise that being a white, straight man in America automatically ensured success in life. Magazine covers declared “the…