When Toxic Masculinity Destroys Humanity
By Sam Stroozas
The concern revolving around whether or not we can pick and choose which women we believe based on the political standing of their perpetrators has surfaced into a pitiful perversion of democracy. Sexual violence has no specificity. It knows no gender, race, disability, class, and most definitely, political standing. Sexual violence is rooted in toxic masculinity and it needs to be addressed as so.
The disagreement surrounding which people we decide to demonize and which we continue to idolize should not be derailed because of the intersections between sexual violence and the identities of the perpetrator and victim. Brett Kavanaugh embodies the definition of a weak-willed, hypermasculine, overly defensive, misogynistic man. His roar of anger and denial toward any question of his grotesque character proves just that - he cannot take a critique to what has been built up as an all-knowing aura of masculinity.
Kavanaugh, also as we know, is a Republican. It is very simple to turn sexual violence into a political party issue. Although all Democrats but Joe Manchin of West Virginia voted no to electing Kavanaugh as a member of the Supreme Court, we cannot argue that sexual violence exists within one party and not another because that is not truthful.
Sexual violence exists everywhere. It is in every city, workplace, and political party. Manchin voting in favor of Kavanaugh did not give away any information we did not already know. Rather than engage in conversation about what we all want for human rights in America, it reaffirmed an ideology that many of us wish to turn away from, because it is simply easier to build up our walls higher and higher.
Stop making this about which political party is “better” than the other, and start making it about believing all women, regardless of where their perpetrator exists in the bipartisan system.
We must approach this not from a political stance, but from a toxic masculinity perspective. Al Franken, former Democratic senator of Minnesota, was accused of sexual misconduct and quietly resigned. In a rally in Rochester, Minnesota on October 4th, 2018, President Trump talked about Franken’s allegations, saying, “[Franken] He folded up like wet rag. It was like oh, I resign, I quit, quit. Wow, he was gone. And he was replaced by somebody no one has ever heard of.”
Tina Smith replaced Franken, and the absence of her name in Trump’s speech proves a power dynamic at play that minimized Smith not only as a person, but also as the Senator of Minnesota. Trump highlighted the fact that Franken committed sexual misconduct to show his followers that it is not “all Republicans,” but then reiterated a stance of stripping Franklin of his masculinity in order to heighten Trump's so he could feel a little bit bigger.
If Trump wants to talk about Franken, then we also have to talk about Trent Franks, Bobby Scott, Ruben Kihuen, Blake Farenthold, John Conyers Jr., Roy Moore, and George H.W. Bush. All are all members of opposing political parties, and have all been accused of sexual misconduct. When we start and end the conversation of sexual violence with political standing, then we choose to omit the real reason why these conversations need to exist-- to hear and believe women.
The #metoo movement has been boiling over for centuries. When we tell women that they are pawns and use politics to dehumanize victims and their experiences, we reassure them that they are solely part of an intertwined game that the public may never completely be a part of. Politics is a game. Sexual violence is not. It is a real part of our society, and conversation surrounding it has infiltrated our political system not by chance, but because the men we are electing in our government have never been told the word “no”.
As a woman, everyday I have to think about the fact that I will be empowered, or more often than not, disempowered, because of how I am ranked in importance to the needs of men.
Trump stated, “It is a very scary time for young men in America, where you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of. This is a very very -- this is a very difficult time. What’s happening here has much more to do than even the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice.” He is right. It is a terrifying time in America to be a young man, and to be encouraged to use your gender as a justification instead of a identifier. I cannot imagine being constantly hypermasculinized into what your peers and the media deem to be a figure of courage and strength, but I can imagine what it is like to be affected by the aftermath of that, and that needs to be enough. What is happening in our world is so much bigger than the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice, it is louder than anything we have ever known.