Donald Trump — July 28, 2017 at 8:39 pm

There’s a lot to criticize about Donald Trump–why play the gender card?

Peggy Noonan is out with a new opinion piece in the Wall St. Journal (“Trump is Woody Allen Without the Humor”on the daily circus that is the Trump administration, and it’s getting a lot of attention. While I rarely agree with Noonan’s “takes” on the world of politics, the thing that I found the most troubling in this essay was not her conclusion (Spoiler alert: She doesn’t think Trump is doing a good job), but rather how she got there.

But first, let’s clear up a few things… 

Is Donald Trump a good leader? Of course not.
Is he a good person? Absolutely not.
What I don’t understand is why Ms. Noonan feels compelled to resort to laboriously gendered language and innuendo to make her points. As she describes Trump’s behavior in office, she trots out hackneyed female stereotypes…
“He’s not strong and self-controlled, not cool and tough, not low-key and determined; he’s whiny, weepy and self-pitying. He throws himself, sobbing, on the body politic. He’s a drama queen.”
“Half the president’s tweets show utter weakness. They are plaintive, shrill little cries, usually just after dawn.”
…as well as casting aspersions on his “manhood”, with a wink and a nod…
“It is that he undermines himself almost daily by ignoring traditional norms and forms of American masculinity.”
“His public brutalizing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions isn’t strong, cool and deadly; it’s limp, lame and blubbery.”
My best guess is that it’s her attempt to get under Trump’s skin, to inflame him, to get his goat. To hit him where it hurts, by making fun of his masculinity, the very thing he fell back on so many times on the campaign trail…”she doesn’t look presidential…I can tell you there are no problems with the size of my…Little Marco…
But it’s just embarrassing to see Noonan wax wistfully about by-gone notions of masculinity…
“The way American men used to like seeing themselves, the template they most admired, was the strong silent type celebrated in classic mid-20th century films—Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Henry Fonda.”
…and read her thinly-veiled jabs at more modern takes on masculinity, as though being verbal and emotionally open were qualities to be avoided…
“His (Woody Allen’s) characters couldn’t stop talking about their emotions, their resentments and needs. They were self-justifying as they acted out their cowardice and anger.”
Noonan ends with a parting shot, again targeting Trump’s masculinity, rather than his erratic temperament, poor decision making, or bad judgment:
“We close with the observation that it’s all nonstop drama and queen-for-a-day inside this hothouse of a White House.”
There are so many things to criticize when it comes to Trump’s first 6 months in office:
  • RussiaGate
  • ScaramucciGate
  • PriebusGate
  • The military trans* ban
  • Jeff Sessions
  • Jarivanka
  • Inciting police violence
  • Delivering a lewd speech to the Boy Scouts

And that’s just this week.

So why roll out dated sexist tropes to make Trump look weak, by characterizing him with “feminine” traits (whiny, weepy, shrill), calling him a “drama queen“, and describing him with gender-loaded terms like limp, weak, sobbing, and plaintive so as to question his manhood? 

Haven’t we moved beyond the lazy sexist thinking that uses “feminine” qualities to connote weakness, and associates “masculine” characteristics with strength?

Especially after the events of the past 48 hours–during which we’ve seen the leadership and courage of women like Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Maine Senator Susan Collins blunt Trump’s attempts to destroy our country’s health care system–it’s way past time to recognize that one’s strength is best demonstrated by what’s between your ears, not by what’s between your legs.

We expect this kind of behavior from Trump. Let’s not sink to his level as we work to resist his agenda.