Beyond the Cuck: Masculinity in the age of Trump

July 20, 2017

Masculinity, and what it means, continues to be a central theme in modern politics.

In the U.S., President Donald Trump seemed to have based some of his campaign on a series of masculine dominance rituals, insulting and belittling his opponents to claim the Republican crown. But Trump’s treatment of women has again and again grabbed headlines south of the border.

When Trump left France last week, he decided to complement the looks of Brigitte Macron, the wife of the French president, by saying, “You’re in such good shape….She’s in such good physical shape. Beautiful.”

Kara Alaimo, an assistant professor of public relations at Hofstra University wrote for CNN how these comments may have hurt America’s image abroad:

“Empowering the world’s women has long been a central goal of the US government. According to the State Department’s website, ‘women’s empowerment is our priority.’ The government funds programs to help women around the globe build their leadership skills, start and grow small businesses, and advance in fields like science, technology and engineering. Trump’s remarks suggest something different: that the United States’ chief representative views women as objects rather than as forces in the world.”

In the most recent episode of The Goldwaters, Dr. Samantha Goldwater-Adler and her brother Daniel Goldwater talked about masculinity in politics, and the strange rise of the word “cuck” and how it reflects negatively on the men who use it.

Goldwater explains the term derives from “cuckold,” a term sometimes to describe a man who’s wife is having an affair. But in modern usage, it tends to have a more sinister element, he said. “There’s also a racial component to this if you dig deeper.”

But mostly, it’s an insult directed at left-leaning opponents.

“It’s a term to sort of feminize your opponents, to say, ‘You’ve lost your masculinity, you’re being taken advantage of,’ ” Goldwater said. “ ‘Cuckservative’ is a version that also comes up to describe people on the right who aren’t hardcore enough.”

The Goldwaters agreed that the word reflects negatively on the predominantly male set of supporters who use it regularly. Goldwater-Adler went on to say how the people using it may come away feeling more dominant, while for an outsider the result can be very different.

“A man is confident enough that he doesn’t need to debase or defend himself against nonsense. He’s confident enough in his identity and his place that these things slide off his back,” Goldwater-Adler said. “So, to say things like, ‘That person is a cuck,’ just tells me that… you believe women are property and the biggest insult you can think to tell a man is that his property is being taken by someone else.”

“It strikes me as very juvenile and boyish and not mannish.”

You can hear more of Daniel and Samantha’s thoughts on masculinity in Episode 16 of The Goldwaters. You can also find the episode on iTunes, or by RSS.

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