The battle over conservative masculinity, from Bush I to Trump

Which type of ‘manliness’ should we respect?
Significant moments frequently provide necessary reminders that history didn’t begin yesterday, that the raging debates of today are echoes of debates past, and that the fight to preserve virtue will never end.

So it is with the passing of George H. W. Bush.

One of the more puzzling aspects of modern Republican discourse is the equation of Donald Trump’s aggression with manliness and the slander of his (male) critics as feminine. As near as I can tell, the foundation of the argument is essentially stylistic and tactical. He’s verbally aggressive. He has swagger.

In a 2016 magazine piece I noted the hosannas poured on Trump for his alleged masculinity. A popular pickup artist said he “tight game.” He was the “ultimate alpha.” Fox News’s Andrea Tantaros said, “The Left has tried to culturally feminize this country in a way that is disgusting. And you see blue-collar voters — men — this is like their last vestige, their last hope is Donald Trump to get their masculinity back.” Another Fox personality called him “street,” meaning it as a compliment.