(Slate) -- Donald Trump has a clear idea of what a real man is, and it’s not pretty. A real man is someone with the courage to openly disparage people for their ethnic heritage. Someone who will bluster, lie, or stonewall rather than admit to gaps in his knowledge and understanding. Someone who will succeed in business at any cost, whether that means stiffing his contractors, avoiding taxes despite great wealth, or declaring bankruptcy and spinning it as a clever negotiating tactic. But above all, a real man is someone who shows his power by alternately demeaning women and bragging about his conquests.
I’m new to being a man. For more than 30 years of my life, before I decided to transition, I was living as a woman. How to be a good man, and what it would mean to call myself a real man, are questions I’m still trying to answer to my own satisfaction. The rise of Donald Trump—and the backlash against the toxic masculinity he embodies—has made these questions exponentially more complicated.
If there’s one thing I’ve gleaned about manliness, it is that real men must never be anything like women. They must not talk like women, sit or stand or walk like women, enjoy the things that women enjoy, or do the sorts of things that women do. Anything at all can become suspect by being tied to womanishness. Donald Trump and his core supporters take this even further. In their warped view, America has been undermined by a creeping effeminacy making us weak and vulnerable, like women. Trump’s offensive, cartoonish brand of hypermasculinity is what they think we need to make us strong again.
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