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Trump, CORONA and “straight” men

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“Voters who identified as more masculine supported Trump in much larger numbers” than any other group. That’s the finding of a new poll from the Survey Center on American Life, which reaffirmed “Trump’s unique appeal to men who hold with traditional notions of masculinity.” It’s a fascinating finding that begs further analysis.

The poll didn’t define what “masculine” means. How could it? But it did report the percentage of men, by race and ethnicity, who self-identify as “completely masculine.” Those numbers are White/non-Hispanic 54%; Black/non-Hispanic 71%, and Hispanic 70%. In other words, of these three groupings, a majority of men (for some reason, Asian-Americans were excluded) think of themselves as “completely masculine.” And of all those men, 60% voted for Trump.

We’ve long known that men favor Trump, but this is the first survey, to my knowledge, that breaks the numbers down in terms of self-perceived notions of “masculinity.” Because this is such a fuzzy area, many explanations have emerged to explain it. FiveThirtyEight speculates that Trump’s “just shrug it off” attitude towards the pandemic appeals to the stoical, warrior element in men that revolts against showing softness or admitting weakness; indeed, this is why so many men refuse to wear face masks. “More men die of COVID, but more of them refuse to wear face masks,” reports the BBC.

A further explanation of this phenomenon was reported in the New York Times. “There has been a very dominant strain of men who clearly feel that wearing a mask would so expose their vulnerability that they would rather risk death from the virus” than don a mask. The article referred to a Fox News host who, referring to Joe Biden’s mask-wearing, commented that Biden “might as well carry a purse with that mask.”

Wth that “purse” crack, we’re getting to the bottom of this conundrum. The fear of homosexuality, and especially of latent homosexuality in oneself, continues to be a dominant psychological strain in men who perceive themselves to be straight. This fear is especially pronounced in rural, less-educated men of lower income: the Bud Light crowd that loves college sports and has been a bedrock core of Trump’s base. It’s odd, when you think about it, for homophobia to remain so ensconced in American consciousness, in this era when gay marriage is legal, gays can openly serve in the military, and almost every American has a gay relative. It’s beyond my capabilities to explain this, except to point out that homophobia is as old as all of recorded history; the Bible is filled with death penalty sentences for same-sex relationships, and evangelical preachers have made millions of dollars railing against “the sin of homo-sek-suality,” as the Franklin Grahams of this country pronounce it.

But why would these toxically male people rally to Donald Trump’s side? We’ve all been asking that question for the last four years. I’ll leave it to the historians and psychologists to come up with final answers. But I think we can make reasonable inferences. When you look at photos of men at Trump rallies,

The crowd cheers as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Baton Rouge, La., Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

what do you see? (There are obviously women there too, but let’s focus on the men.) I don’t technically “know” who these men are, but I feel like I’ve encountered them all my life. They’re likely to live in rural areas. They’re likely to be verbally homophobic, and possibly violently so, especially when they’re drunk and hanging out with their like-minded buddies. They’re likely to be xenophobic as well, scornful of immigrants. Misogyny is part of their makeup; they may be wife-beaters, and their vocabularies are full of slurs against women. They tend to dismiss expertise and science. They profess to be Christians, even as they engage in the most unChristian of behaviors. They love guns.

But there’s another aspect of them: they may be on what is called “the D.L.” This is an urban phrase, short for “down low,” meaning that they have secret lives in which they engage in the very forms of sexual activity they publicly decry. This is how so many so-called “Christian” preachers and politicians get caught in their own scandals: Jerry Falwell, Jr., Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, Republican Senator Larry “Wide Stance” Craig, Ted Haggard, Republican congressman Matt “Pool Boy” Gaetz…you know what I’m talking about. Indeed, it’s reached the point where the more some conservative Republican rails against “homo-sek-sual sin,” the more we suspect that they have a litte hoochie on the side.

Could this be the “vulnerability” these “completely masculine men” fear could be exposed? Perhaps the fear of being unmasked as secretly attracted to other men accounts for the resistance to wearing face masks. These “straight” men mask their same-sex eroticism, with its towel-slapping shower room antics, by leading double lives, while they boast, Trump-like, of being unafraid of the virus and refusing to wear masks. A weird interplay of behaviors, all connected to masks.

At any rate, these “completely masculine” men pose a greater danger to the Republic than any foreign terrorist, in my opinion. They are the “proud boys,” the militia-type ammosexuals who tried to assassinate Gov. Whitmer, the Alex Jones sociopaths who just threatened President-elect Biden, and, yes, Donald Trump himself, with his history of addiction to porn stars, sexual assault and adultery. Terrible, awful, sick, disturbed individuals, whom I would feel sorry for, except for the danger they pose to all of us.

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