Donald Trump is a threat to your sex life whether you realize it or not

Jun 1, 2016 at 10:30 a.m. ET
Image: Dennis Van Tine/Future Image/

Whomever you’re rooting for in this interminably exhausting, depressing, nauseating election season, you’ve likely noted the staunch misogynistic tone of the Trump campaign: It’s impossible to miss.

From Megyn Kelly’s menstruation to pumping breast milk, Trump finds women and their bodies “disgusting.” Let us not forget women cards. He keeps saying that Hillary yells too loud: His vitriol knows no bounds. This is the man he’s always been.

Ivana Trump, the first of his three wives, once accused him of marital rape. Even though this accusation was retracted in anticipation of a large divorce settlement, Trump’s lawyer later said that men can’t rape their own wives. This actually happened. Trump also said that he would date his daughter if she weren’t related to him. He boasted about the size of his hands, i.e., the size of his penis, on the Republican debate stage a few months ago. Seriously. This is the man that is the actual GOP nominee for POTUS. Yes, dear reader, this is really happening and it’s not a reality TV show this time.

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Trump’s message is this: Powerful women are meant to be taken down. Unless they are well-behaved and very attractive (in his own estimation), women should not speak. He even told New York Magazine this in the 1990s: “Women: You have to treat them like shit.” This condemnation of women who are not submissive wives or mute models goes hand in hand with his continued assertions of his own dominance — assuring us of his manhood. It’s quite transparent that he is not assured of it in the least. Whether we’re talking about size or strength is not the issue — what matters here is that he bashes women because it is the only thing that makes him feel like a man.

Here’s what’s even scarier: The hatred he’s telegraphing to his mostly male, mostly white followers legitimizes their own misogyny against not just Hillary — but the women in their very own lives.

I’m for Bernie (until the end) but I cannot ignore Trump’s vicious, hateful assaults on women, and Hillary in particular. By “hitting” (in the violent Trump parlance) Hillary, he is subtly calling out to the psyches of damaged men everywhere — those who harbor ill will to the women in their own lives. Here’s where this message becomes inordinately dangerous — the ultimate expression of this toxic male rage comes in the form of a man like Elliot Rodger or Dylan Roof.

Professionals have confirmed that Trump has narcissistic personality disorder, but what matters for us is that his legitimization as a national figure, rather than just a small-handed, orange-slicked joke of a man, puts us all in danger. It’s terrifying that this delusional man will have access to intelligence briefings (and scarier that his aforementioned small hands could be close to the red button). But the danger I’m more concerned with here is that of women’s intimate relationships with wannabe Trumps.

Donald J. Trump is the very essence of toxic masculinity. It’s as if he exists so that we can understand what this term means, so thanks, Mr. Trump, for at least contextualizing it for us.

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Toxic masculinity thrives on misogynistic fury — men’s rights activists have founded an industry by inviting lonely men into their rage-fueled cult — one that blames women for all men’s problems. If women don’t want to have sex with you, the MRA rhetoric goes, it’s because they’re either frigid or sluts. But, they advise, you can use a series of tricks to convince them to have sex with you even if they don’t want to. This is rape culture writ large.

So how do you identify symptoms of toxic masculinity in a man you’re dating or contemplating dating — or even your long-term partner?

If he’s a Trump supporter — well, that’s basically everything you need to know. I’d run, fast, in the other direction. (Be warned, it’s not just about misogyny — he’s also tacitly approving racism, anti-Semitism and straight-up lying.)

But it’s not that simple because even liberal men can be infected with the toxic masculinity virus. Whether you’re coming across them on Tinder or IRL, signs of toxic masculinity aren’t that hard to identify. Learn to avoid:

  • Men that pressure you to have sex when you’re clearly not in the mood, or think they’re “owed” sex because you’ve been out on a date with them.
  • Men who display jealousy when it’s clearly not called for — too early in a relationship, for instance. Or ever, honestly.
  • Men who boast about how well they’ve done with women.
  • Men who outright insult you, or use backhanded compliments to make you feel unworthy — suggesting that no one else could possibly want you.
  • Men who hate their mothers or are estranged from them.
  • Men who criticize other women, even celebrities, for their looks.
  • Men who cannot take light criticism, but are really good at doling it out.
  • Men who say that you’re “nagging” when you remind them of something or ask for something that you need. Also, men who get freaked out whenever you raise your voice.
  • Men with Madonna-Whore complexes: Rather than seeing you as a complex person, they either see you as someone to have sex with or someone to marry.
  • Men who diminish feminism and feminists.
  • Men who are homophobic or transphobic.

We should continue to make fun of Trump, because, well, it’s fun. But we should do so knowing that his presence on the national stage and his invitation into living rooms across the country is extremely dangerous for women everywhere — not just for Hillary.

You might believe you’re at a safe distance from all things Trump — you won’t vote for him nor will anyone in your immediate circle. Still, his very presence legitimizes all of this ugly, scary behavior. The upshot is that we can stop it from entering our own bedrooms.

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