Trump-Biden debate shows double standards of sexism and toxic masculinity


“Are you going to shut up, man?”

It was Joe Biden’s remarkable line in Tuesday night’s presidential debate a female challenger to President Donald Trump four years ago could never dream of delivering.

“I feel so much affection for Hillary right now because I’m sure she meant that and she couldn’t,” feminist author Jill Filipovic tweeted during the debate.

“You have no idea,” Clinton responded.

When Trump called Clinton a “mean” woman when she spoke about Social Security during the Third Presidential Debate in October 2016, she ignored him, ending her response without acknowledging the insult. Clinton knew the unspoken rules for women, and while she did her best to follow them, she was often caught between the expectations of her gender and the qualities people tend to associate with leadership.

Words Clinton was never able to utter, Biden’s campaign will now use them on T-shirts.

“Whether you are a woman, a person of color, or someone of an identity who is marginalized in some other way, it is difficult to see yourself in the position of these leaders because they operate in a world that is you. banned to operate, “said Laura Palumbo of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.” Double standards are very clear in the sense that behaviors that are admired and respected in some individuals are exactly what others must be intentional to avoid in order to be taken seriously. “

‘It was painful. And the trigger ‘:Psychologists say debate could be traumatic

Many have called Tuesday night’s debate, which was riddled with insults and interruptions, a devastating example of the state of American politics. But it was something else too: a confrontation that could only take place between two white men.

Double standard: “You can’t be angry”

No female challenger would ever have told Trump to shut up. Even if she wanted to.

The stereotypical idea of ​​a woman is kind, gentle, moral, and compassionate. But stereotypical notions of leadership – tenacity, assertiveness, ability to “take charge” – are generally associated with men. In order for women to advance to leadership positions, they must maintain their stereotypical femininity while exhibiting characteristics that we associate with men. The problem is, once women start to exhibit these stereotypical masculine traits, they are seen as less feminine and ultimately less likable.

“There is no language that women are allowed to speak to defend themselves,” said Juliet Williams, professor of gender studies at UCLA. “So it’s clear that it would have been ridiculous for her to say, ‘Come on, man. It’s not presidential. “It’s not just that we’re excluded from boardrooms and golf clubs, we don’t even have the right to use the same language. It wouldn’t work at all. And clearly, you can’t. be angry, you can’t be aggressive. “

Research from the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, a non-partisan organization, shows that women in politics should be nice to get a person’s vote, but men don’t need to be loved to be elected. Qualities like ambition and assertiveness, which are praised in male leaders, are the same things that make women less likable, and therefore less eligible.

After Senator Kamala Harris challenged Biden over his past opposition to federal bus policy in a Democratic primary debate in June 2019, some of Biden’s allies later suggested she was too ambitious being his vice-president, a charge according to gender experts would never have been brought against a man.

And it’s not just gender identity that comes into play on the debate stage and in voters’ choices.

“Double standards and stereotypes occur whenever various identities meet. Is a woman “emotional” or a black man “angry” while a white man is “passionate”? ” Harvard business review written in 2019.

A performance of masculinity

Men are frequently called upon to exercise their masculinity – in the military, in fraternities, in politics, in relationships – and gender experts say Tuesday’s debate was no exception.

“It was an exercise in male domination,” said CJ Pascoe, a professor at the University of Oregon and author of “Exploring Masculinities”. Trump walked in and said, ‘The rules don’t apply to me. The moderator cannot tell me what to do. Biden can’t tell me what to do. Tradition can’t tell me what to do. “… I think what Trump was able to do is embody that kind of authoritative form of culturally valued masculinity. There are people who listen to him and find that kind of masculine charisma intoxicating regardless of the content. following.

APA:Psychologists Call “Traditional Masculinity” Harmful

During the debate, Trump questioned Biden’s intellect and bragged about the size of his rallies. He attacked Biden’s son Hunter, who struggled with addiction.

But gender experts say Tuesday’s debate also highlighted the limits of masculinity. Experts say that because of his gender and race, Biden is probably used to being treated with respect. Trump’s behavior seemed to throw him away, in part because he had a limited number of acceptable male responses to deal with Trump’s behavior, experts say.

“We tend to talk about toxic masculinity also bad for women. And I think part of the message that hasn’t been delivered is an acknowledgment of the seriousness of toxic masculinity to men, “Williams said. Joe,” and so he knew he had to in a way. or another come out swaying. But his two choices were to look like female, effeminate, totally unacceptable, or be as low as Trump would, which also didn’t look very good. . “

Biden, however, called Trump a “clown”, a liar and the “worst president” in American history.

A year after the election, in his book on his campaigning stint, Clinton said his “the skin crawled” as Trump loomed behind her during the debate, but she kept her cool from “a life spent dealing with difficult men trying to shake me up.”

She imagined, in a different world, what she might have said instead: “Back up, you crawl. Get away from me. I know you like to bully women, but you can’t bully me. “

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