The second and final US presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden was one other spherical in a duel between two very distinct types of masculinity. A wonderful moderator, Kristen Welker, mixed with rule adjustments that lowered the candidates’ means to interrupt one another, toned down the vitriol and helped create a calmer debate, with extra room for dialogue of coverage.
However this didn’t change the elemental variations between the 2 males. Though each protagonists are white, outdated, prosperous males, they embody distinct and competing masculine identities: one authoritarian and the opposite paternalistic.
For this debate, the Trump marketing campaign recognised the necessity for the president to point out extra self-restraint, whereas Biden caught to his script as a extra standard politician.
US voters have to decide on between two profoundly totally different variations of manhood in a race being enacted in extremely gendered methods. By repeatedly defining himself as a “sturdy man chief” and demeaning Biden’s so-called “weak” manhood, Trump has turned the election right into a masculinity contest.
An knowledgeable in nonverbal communication watched the Trump-Biden debate with the sound turned down – here is what he noticed
As in 2016, Trump’s marketing campaign is asserting a powerful, authoritarian masculinity as a key plank of his re-election technique. This was illustrated by the maskless Trump standing defiantly on the White Home balcony on return from his hospitalisation with COVID-19.
Choreographed for early night TV newscasts, this theatrical efficiency sought to strengthen Trump’s masculine picture of sturdy management supported by his claims to be a “warrior” now “immune from the virus”. This declare to masculine energy – to have crushed the virus – performs properly with these voters who imagine that masculinity, notably white masculinity, is underneath assault.
At a rally in Sanford, Florida in early October, Trump re-emphasised how highly effective he was now feeling. The nice and cozy-up music was the music Macho Man by Village Individuals and the message was clear: a vote for Trump is a vote for sturdy and decisive management which is important to “make America nice once more” and to cease what the Trump marketing campaign calls the “socialist” tendencies of the Democrats.
Trump’s marketing campaign locations a premium on showing sturdy and supposedly by no means displaying weak point or vulnerability. Trump likes to be in management, to be upbeat and optimistic always. His masculine authoritarianism prioritises dominance, aggression and profitable in any respect prices – whatever the guidelines. This was clear within the first presidential debate when Trump interrupted Biden no less than 128 instances in 90 minutes, yelling insults at his opponent.
Dominance or democracy? Authoritarian white masculinity as Trump and Pence’s political debate technique
The Atlantic just lately reported that Trump as soon as dismissed army self-sacrifice as being for “suckers” and “losers” to additional assert his authoritarian masculinity. This identical “powerful man”, usually overblown narrative shapes his response to the pandemic, together with his disdain for masks sporting and social distancing, which he and his supporters have dismissed as “unmanly”.
Biden has not made masculinity an specific theme of his marketing campaign, however the distinction to Trump is unmistakable. He presents an understated, “old fashioned” US masculinity characterised by warning, thoughtfulness and benevolent management. His paternalistic masculinity emphasises conventional qualities corresponding to trustworthiness, reliability, integrity, decency and morality.
Biden’s masculinity is premised on working arduous, taking part in honest, having character, respecting science and data, and behaving honourably: a paternalistic type of masculinity claiming to guard ladies and kids.
As a long-serving senator, he positions himself as a seasoned protector of the nation in its time of want. Not at all an ideologue, Biden is a practical politician who is aware of persuade, appeal and negotiate compromise. Looking for to deliver America collectively, he speaks of a less-polarised future when politicians may work collectively to create a consensus-based politics.
As a household man scarred by private tragedies such because the loss of life of his son from most cancers, on the marketing campaign path Biden has displayed an genuine compassion with voters grappling with COVID-19. He guarantees a future that’s extra acquainted, steady and protected, returning to a way of calm normality.
Enjoying the person card
Management in public spheres has traditionally been seen because the province of males. That is definitely the case within the US, the place all 45 presidents have been males, 44 of them white. For the primary 100 years of the presidency, solely white males had the vote.
Males’s monopoly of the presidency has steadily meant that election campaigns have was masculinity contests. For the reason that 1960s, from Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan onwards, Republican candidates have perpetuated a masculine mystique across the presidency – the parable that males deliver some form of particular magic to the workplace.
Repeatedly positioning their occasion candidates as “sturdy males”, Republicans have sought to undermine the masculinity of their Democratic opponents, depicting them as weak and gentle on points like crime and international coverage.
In its historic context, Trump’s intensified deal with males and masculinity merely continues the Republican custom of taking part in “the person card” in presidential election campaigns. This masculine ploy appeals to the gendered expectations and longings of a few of these they lead. It additionally perpetuates one other Republican fantasy: that actual – white – males don’t vote Democrat.
The authors don’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that may profit from this text, and have disclosed no related affiliations past their tutorial appointment.