There is another significant silence in Senator Hawley’s speech, also due to prudent and wary respect for a menace. Donald Trump is not mentioned or discussed. Yet Trump, it must be said, is the most prominent bearer of the reputation of manliness at this time. He is surely the model today for male aggressiveness, the one who dares to risk the dislike of women. He does have the support of those women who do not care for sensitive males with too much education but prefer rougher, more manly types willing to take on the responsibility of insulting their enemies. But he is happy to abandon and destroy the conventions of normality, which unbeknownst to feminists, are so protective of women. Why should women with their newfound independence remain in need, indeed have greater need, of barriers against harassment by pushy males? But it seems that they do, and that they feel they have reason and at long last power to defend themselves, or in practice to be defended by law and government. “Women for Trump” are thus, it appears, a fading minority the senator cannot count on.
And does Trump merit the badge of manliness? Should he carry the flag? Returning to the description of manly man we began with, one cannot say that Trump does not notice microaggressions. He notices nothing more than slights of any size, especially small ones, and makes a policy of constantly complaining of those done to himself, above all the crowning injustice of not being reelected. His idea of standing tall makes him willing to stoop to say anything to defend his fragile dignity. In sum, he gives manliness a bad name. But is it necessary for a Republican politician in a difficult situation, like Senator Hawley, always and in every regard to speak frankly like a man? Manliness is not the whole truth of a human being. Sometimes womanly silence is prudent, if only to preserve the deference manly men always show to women, though not always for their prudence.