I wasn’t going to write about this subject because I find it a little hard to take this situation seriously, but this article in The Guardian (Angry white men love Donald Trump) got to me. It’s so easy for any educated or even well informed person to mock the current state of the US election circus. Really, Donald Trump as the leading Republican contender? It’s the movie Idiocracy come to life. It’s beyond that. It’s a bigoted, ignorant, narcissistic business mogul turned reality show star running for president. It is, if you really think about it, the president we deserve, but for fuck’s sake, can’t we hold off the apocalypse just a little while longer still?
But I want to ask why. Why this climate, and why now? What I take away from this article is pain and fear. So much fear. The world is shifting. It kind of has to. It is due for a shift and the long-held dominating power structure is shifting away from white men. There are just too many people now to maintain it. There are too many women and too many people of color offered education and a place in the sun.
The young angry white men are scared. They don’t know how to exist in a world where they are not on top of the food chain. Affirmative action, feminism, the acknowledgment that centuries of imperial power is responsible for their status, and not – as many would like to think – just reward for their hard work.
This fear manifests right now in absurd men rights movements, excessive harassment against any female public figure and a weapons fetish that refuses to even acknowledge its own deadly consequences.
Let’s pause right here to acknowledge that most men have managed this shift just fine. My father’s generation, the baby boomers, went from having stay at home moms to working wives in 20 years and it was fine. Sure, they might still have some hiccups with accidental racist language, but overall, they did fine. The Gen X and Millennial men, they did even better. They learned to talk about their feelings and communicate with their wives. Sure, that led to other problems and higher divorce rates but overall, violence against women is down and women enjoy so many rights now that before was only offered to men.
So why Trump? Why now? Personally, I believe that Trump is a radioactive narcissist who has no real interest in being president; he just wants power and equates being talked about to real power, but it’s easy to have an opinion on Trump. It’s harder to discuss why. Why do angry white men who, for all intents and purposes are very much still on top of the food chain, feel so pushed aside?
Because we don’t talk about these things in our culture. We don’t allow men to feel scared or vulnerable. How could we? When the lifeblood of our culture is an imperialist military machine that feeds on young bodies, domestic and foreign, how can the image of men be anything but strong protector. If you are not an actual soldier, you better be handling your shit at home like a boss; without complaint, without mercy.
The image of women is that of natural caregivers. A lot of us are (not all, though.) I find that women fit easily into the sustainability movement. You just extend your care from family and home to the whole planet. I think it is natural to want to protect the place from which life springs. I see that as the least radical thing to spend your time doing. Just as I don’t find it radical to say that fathers are just as important as mothers.
We don’t talk about the fact that women need men, too. They create balance in a wholly different way than just a group of women. A place of employment need men and women. Men keep women from becoming too gossipy and pack-like. Men can lift heavy items and reach high shelves. Women can soften tensions simply by being there. Women keep men from becoming too crude and, yes, pack-like.
I love my relationship with my husband. It is a little different than those with my close girlfriends, and I’m glad. I feel safe with my husband, more so than I do on my own. I know that I can be on my own, but I don’t want to. I think that’s the key. I enjoy being a member of a political party (The Green Party) but I don’t hate the members of the other parties. I enjoy being a writer and I don’t want to be anything else (ok, maybe a filmmaker if I’m being greedy) but I am so eternally grateful that not everyone else wants to be writers, too. Can you imagine a world in which we are all writers? Nothing would ever get done, we would starve to death, but all our bookshelves would be alphabetized and kitchen drawers neat and tidy due to excessive procrastination!
The shift is happening. The new world is coming whether we like it or not. It is your job to show mindfulness and compassion to those in pain. Even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard. Because if it is one thing 2015 showed us it is that mocking someone’s pain will never lead to positive change. Dear angry white men, we are not here to steal your place in the sun. We want to stand beside you and join forces for a more inclusive, healthy and sustainable world.
P.S. a universal basic income and higher corporate taxes would go a long way to alleviate your fears that immigrants are coming for your job, too. Just sayin’ :)