We’re two days away from possibly making history once again by electing the first female American president, directly after electing our nation’s first two-term African-American president. These are huge steps towards a more diverse direction for our country, but what we have not left behind as a nation are our biases, prejudices, racism and sexism. As we witnessed with President Obama, people reacted irrationally to our first black president, with a deep resentment at levels unseen towards previous white male presidents.
The hateful vitriol we’ve seen lobbed at Hillary Clinton by her opponent Donald Trump and his supporters is unprecedented. Her high unfavorability rating is uncanny considering she is qualified, intelligent, measured, rational, even-tempered, and competent — especially in contrast with Trump, who is none of those things.
She has spent her adult life learning our nation’s laws, graduating Wellesley and becoming a lawyer. She has dedicated her life to public service as the First Lady of Arkansas, the First Lady of the United States, a U.S. Senator, a Secretary of State and a two-time presidential candidate. Yet, her support remains mostly unenthusiastic, and the majority of this country holds an unfavorable view towards her.
While this can be chalked up to some successes by the right who have launched countless witch hunts to tarnish Clinton’s image, there is something else at play here, according to researchers.
“More than half of white men hold a very unfavorable view of Clinton,” explains The Atlantic, “that’s a whopping 20 points higher than Barack Obama.”
Whether it’s conscious or not, men tend to react negatively when women take on traditionally male roles. This is evident throughout history from the first female college student, to women becoming doctors, to female CEOs, to women in skilled labor, men have pushed back on women doing things they believed only men were capable of doing.
The Atlantic explains this is due to “Precarious Manhood Theory” in which men believe manhood must be won and defended. In studies, male participants said things like job loss threatens their manhood, whereas in their view womanhood was more fixed and could only be lost through a sex change operation.
When a male’s manhood is threatened they respond recklessly, negatively and aggressively because they feel a need to defend their manhood at all cost. And studies show that “subordination to a female boss is among the emasculations men fear most.”
So how will our nation of men react if Hillary Clinton becomes president?
Let’s take a look at Donald Trump.
After the party conventions and Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers began to soar, Trump faced losing to a woman — something he may not have thought possible. And while Trump has put forth racist and bigoted policies towards Latinos and Muslims he really didn’t ratchet up the sexism until Clinton was declared the leader of her party and began emasculating Trump.
During the first debate, Clinton undermined Trump by calling him by his first name, and this slight offended the Republican nominee and threw him off balance — he even took time out to address it. He began interrupting her, as many as 51 times by some counts, and he reeled between being defensive and aggressive which made him come off as both a bully and incoherent.
After being bested by Clinton, he patted himself on the back as the debate’s winner citing unscientific polls to soothe his bruised ego. He then blamed a microphone for his weak performance and lashed out at a more defenseless female, former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, and told his fans to check out her sex tape.
By the time his 2005 “Access Hollywood” hot mic tape was released, Trump was already struggling with female voters. He invaded Clinton’s space at the second debate and dismissed his pussy grabbing comments unconvincingly with the pitiful argument that it was just harmless “locker room” boasting. He threatened to lock Hillary Clinton up if he won, outright defying her constitutional right to due process. That comment could be perceived as Trump being unable to best Clinton intellectually or lawfully, so he wanted to use force to bring her down and punish her.
When 14 women came forward to accuse Trump of groping them without their consent, he responded by criticizing their looks. It was as if a sexist bomb went off inside him and he felt the need to lash out, ridicule and diminish any female who wouldn’t bow to his manhood.
By the third debate, Trump could no longer contain himself and he called Clinton “a nasty woman.”
Clinton was able to bait Trump into spiraling by doing one thing and one thing only — she stepped all over his fragile manhood.
Many of Trump’s followers are mirroring his behavior. From chants for locking Clinton up to commenting on her looks to calling her every expletive in the book, they’re letting Clinton (and our nation’s women) know that they don’t want a female Commander-in-Chief because she’ll always just be the “bitch” to them. They’ll latch on to any and every perceived misstep by Clinton they wouldn’t otherwise criticize male leaders for, just wait.
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If Clinton is elected, males who feel emasculated by a female leader will stop at nothing to show her that she doesn’t belong at the top of the hill. But out of that ugliness, our nation may finally have the opportunity to have conversations about pervasive sexism we were unable to have before. And while sexism is about to show its ugly head in force, hopefully, more men and, yes, women too, will be able to see their biases for what they are — completely irrational.