My epiphany after watching every minute of all the Republican Debates, is that almost all of the candidates are appealing to the prurient interests of the “Republican Base,” in terms that heavily connote sexual subject matter. In America, because historically it has been a prudish nation, there has always been a sexual subtext to all public discourse. We have always been a male dominated nation that has only grudgingly permitted females to begin to enter the halls of power. Almost 100 years since women have gained the right to vote, we still see inequality in terms of pay, in the workplace and in politics. Although equality for women took hold with the Women’s Movement in the 1970’s and great gains were made, we have seen tremendous blow-back against those gains and a good number of males still feel threatened by the power of women.
Being threatened by women’s capability and power moves into the psycho-sexual range. The American myth of https://elephanttail.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/rugged-individualism/ is a completely “Male-Centric” mythology centering around the belief that “great men” are the leaders of any progress, or innovation. Part and parcel to that myth is the context of males dominating females sexually. A corollary to that idea, is that in sexual behavior the male dominates the female, penetrates the female and ravishes the female. Therefore the ideal of “male power” and domination is alive in the hearts of many men and sadly women as well. As I will explain the subtexts in the Republican debates and in the Republican Party itself, are sold in psycho-sexual terms, which do arouse the sexual excitement of the base.
As this article in Alternet discusses the “Fear of Women Is Key to Donald Trump’s Misogyny—and America’s“:
“At an August debate sponsored by Fox News Channel, Trump took umbrage at Kelly’s question to him about the disparaging remarks he’s known to make about the physical appearance of women who criticize him.
“You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals,'” Kelly said.
“Only Rosie O’Donnell,” Trump quipped.
But Kelly didn’t let up, citing other examples of Trump’s misogyny, including a comment he made to a female contestant on his reality show, Celebrity Apprentice, that she would look good on her knees. How, Kelly asked, in a contest against Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton would he defend himself against the charge that he was part of a war on women?
Trump was beside himself, complaining that he was being treated unfairly. After the debate, he piled the misogyny on Kelly herself, telling CNN, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” In the ensuing uproar, he insisted he meant no reference to menstruation. Yeah, right.
In a campaign based on rage toward and hatred of people who fall into a range of categories—Mexicans and Muslims come immediately to mind—Trump’s hostility toward women seems the most authentic, and not some mere contrivance meant to rile the GOP base. (Even after that first Fox debate, he went after Carly Fiorina, the lone woman in the Republican presidential field, not for her political positions, but for her face.)”
How is it that Donald Trump, a misogynist convicted by his own rhetoric, leads in the Republican race at this point and even has some traction among older American women? My belief is that Trump is expressing the feelings of the Republican base voters made up of ignorant tea party people, in tandem with the misogyny of the of the Christian Fundamentalist Right Wing. While my idea represents nothing that many other commentators haven’t remarked upon, perhaps there is novelty in my seeing it as sexual arousal which meets the definition of pornography.
I’ve always like what people call pornography though my tastes run toward written, rather then pictorial content. Growing up with parents who were sexually liberated, from my early teens as puberty began to assert itself, I immersed myself in reading that would add to my knowledge of how sex was done. In the late 1950’s, Supreme Court rulings began to allow some of the world’s greatest literature to finally be published in the United States, where it had been historically banned. In the 1950’s the works of giants of literature such as James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller and John Cleland began to be distributed in paperback. I read them all and not only did they increase my sexual knowledge, they fueled my pubescent masturbatory fantasies. interestingly, although many of these writers were men of their era and did have a male-centric perspective, their depiction of the variations of sexual activity were actually quite realistic in terms of the range of the sexuality that takes place between men and women. Although, my own sexual initiation was some years in the future, they prepared me well to actually participate when the time did come.
Why I specifically mention the works of those literary giants above, is because in their skills they depicted sexuality as so much more than the “Wham, Bam, Thank You Maam” school of mainstream pornography, that has always dominated the hard core market. In the WBTYM tradition, the female was the sexual object to be overpowered and penetrated by the male. Male penetration and male pleasure were the keys to this genre. Female pleasure came because of the size of the males organ and the act of submission to the overwhelming power of his assault. Sexuality became an issue of male dominance and by this metric the value of the male was determined by the power of his personality and presumably through that the size of his penis. In America though, penis size was not only actual length, but most definitely the wealth and power of the male.
The rise of the “Woman’s Liberation Movement” in the 1960’s began to imbue women with the sense that they should be in control over their own bodies and their own sexuality. This concept of female autonomy was quite frightening to many American males and particularly those of conservative persuasion. In the conservative psyche, 1950’s television such as “Father Knows Best”, “I Love Lucy” and “Leave it to Beaver”, displayed the apotheosis of the American family. Daddy was always in a suit, Mommy in a dress and in the end it was the male’s wisdom that resolved all difficulties. When the marital bedrooms were shown the set always contained two single beds. At the same time, in the underground of “hard core” pornography, the primacy of males pleasure represented what sex was all about. The dominance of TV programming depicting the “rugged individualist” male as a central figure in TV Drama was fairly complete, as indicated by the prevalence of the “Western” and the “Detective” TV shows.
What finally upset the balance in American politics was “Roe v. Wade”in 1973. That decision finally gave women control over their own bodies and their own sexuality. In an atmosphere pervaded by the false notion of males “natural” dominance over females, this was very frightening. Historically, the various religions exerted control over women doctrinally and in the fact that women bore the full burden that inadvertent pregnancy added. The right to choose what a woman did with her own body was terrifying to males whose sexuality and therefore self worth, was invested by the urges of their own sexual power. The message connoted was that males needed to invest more in sex than just penetrating a female. The decision gave governmental permission to the age old fact that female sexual pleasure was just as important as male penetration and had to be taken into account if one wanted a successful relationship. Roe v. Wade directly led to the “Anti-Abortion Movement”, which was a euphemism for keeping male dominance. The Republican Party, whose basic ideology has always been catering to the needs of wealth and power over the well-being of most citizens, quickly developed alliances with the religious Christian Right Wing as I wrote about in: https://elephanttail.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/tstronghe-merger-of-christianity-and-corporate-america/strong/
With the groundwork of my thesis about the pornography laid out, let’s discuss specific examples of how the subtle subtext are appeals to the prurience fantasies of the intended Republican audience.
I know that is may seem a little odd to look at this rather bizarre looking man, as symbol of sexual power to many of his followers, but he is. IN his misogyny towards women he represents the picture of the “powerful” male, unencumbered with notions that women should be any more that convenient sexual objects for the pleasure of the male. His practice of attracting beautiful women with his wealth and fame, then discarding them for even younger models, meets the fantasies of the multitude of conservative males. Sadly, I would venture that there are some left wing males tht find the fantasy attractive. On a recent Bill Maher show there was a Republican female pollster who had data that many older, Republican women were attracted to Trump because of the power of his “manliness”.
As I’ve described above, the “anti-abortion” movement is a stalking horse for male dominance. Male dominance is the direct equivalent of male sexuality and its purported “power” over women.
Ted Cruz promising to “carpet bomb” ISIS. Donald Trump’s promise to obliterate ISIS related in intemperate terms. Marco Rubio macho posturing and Chris Christie’s declaring World War III has arrive are similarly couched in terms of male power, which in America has direct sexual connotations.
To me this is only too easy. Seriously, is there anything that warns the world that “I have a large penis” more than most owners of guns. The implication is that with the power of their weaponry that will protect “their women” and lesser males from the threats that abound. The undercurrent is the protection of “their females” from the sexual threat of being overpowered by men of color. When a thirteen year old black child can be shot for playing with a toy gun, while scruffy White males parade about with AR15’s over their shoulders, undeterred the reality of this NRA movement is obvious. This is not to say that there aren’t many in this country for who a gun does represent sport and protection. However, if you own a veritable arsenal of weapons of military quality there is something about your penis size that troubles you, for which these weapons compensate.
Historically, for a nation of men who falsely believe penis size is the arbiter of male power, men of color have traditionally been viewed as a sexual threat. The stereotype for instance, is that Black penises are larger than White penises and therefore would provide greater pleasure to White Women, making them a threat that needs to be addressed. It is also interesting that Trump at one point accused Latino immigrants of coming to America and raping (White) women. Could the sexual, pornographic content be more evident? With it also has come the mythology that women of color are more sexual than White women and are targets for sexual dominance. We see recently the case of a police officer finally punished for raping at least 14 women, all of them Black. Black men threaten the sexuality of many White men and so they have to be oppressed and suppressed. The fantasy of this oppression excites the passions of many right wing males.
Christian Fundamentalism has always been deeply involved with the oppression of women and distrust of female sexuality. This dates back to the teachings of St. Paul. While the Hebrew Torah incorporated into the Christian canon does teach male dominance, many of the 613 commandments which are the basis of pious Jewish living, pay particular attention to the sexual pleasure to be derived from marriage and the stricture that a woman’s pleasure was equally important to that of the male. Paul and particularly many of those who descended from his teaching saw sexuality as evil in and of itself, unless it was performed for procreation only. This has been Roman Catholic teaching up until recently in the 20th Century. Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation also had the effect of seeing sexuality as a necessary evil. Realistically, the problem of Christianity has always been that it has been a religion nurtured by alliances with the power of the State, rather than the actual teachings of Jesus, which were revolutionary in nature. Making sexuality the direct focus of almost all of religious stricture has allowed Christianity to ally with the State in the task of controlling the populace. At the Republican debates, each candidate has tried to define themselves as pious Christians and that piety is directly referential to female sexuality.
The early favorite of most of the media pundits as this race for the Republican nomination began was that the odds on favorite was Jeb Bush. At this point Jeb is struggling because as many pundits have stated he did not project manliness, which he is now trying to inject into his rhetoric. If in conservative politics “manliness” equates to male sexual power, which I think it does, than what we watch as these debates as this campaign unfolds, is that it’s clear that its’ actors are intent on appealing to the prurient interests of their followers and that to my mind makes it pornographic.