Saturday, November 19, 2016

The election as gender war: Was Clinton Aunt Polly?

I am admittedly a pessimist (or a realist) but as I ponder the choice of Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor, a man who doesn't even have to be confirmed by Congress, I imagine World War III must be the goal, or at least an all-out Samuel Huntington style "clash of civilizations" war against Islam--and given more than a billion Muslims, how is that not a world war? I saw in The New York Times that Flynn thinks Islam (not radical Islam but Islam itself) is a "malignant cancer," calls Islamic militancy a "global" and "existential" threat, and argues that Islam is an "ideology" not a religion. I frankly don't think it's overreacting to be worried.

I wondered: what could be worse than what Bush II managed? He gifted us with a disastrous war in Iraq and global economic meltdown.  How could it get worse? Now that Bush and his cronies are starting to look like moderate centrists, how could Trump top him? What's left? 

It came to me: World War III. These guys are so testosterone laden you know that if they get us into a war, they're going to lob nuclear bombs: let's just hope it's limited.

Let's hope they don't blow us back to the stone age. What do you think? Odds? The fun ends for them too when that happens, so maybe we have hope ...

In yoga class, we woman discussed all the young men we know either in the army, or with strong army "buds," who voted for Trump. I thought of my son's friend from Olney Friends School, Yuxi, who joined the army to gain US citizenship (ironic, as he is the graduate of a Quaker school) and came to visit us this spring. He said everyone but everyone on his army base was crazy for Trump, so he too was going to vote for Trump too. My nephew in the National Guard, normally a highly sane person, was all Trump all the time. My Quaker yoga teacher's Quaker raised son was all set to vote Trump under the influence of his oil rig buddies: it's not clear, however, that he was registered to vote. And the stories go on. 

My epiphany hit, naturally a sudden bolt of revelation. The election, I realized, was the ultimate gender battle. The mommy/school marm archetype who wasn't going to let the boys play with guns, or have any fun, faced off against the chest-banging savage (apologies to savages everywhere) who was all about "c'mon guys, let's hunt us some Orc!!"

It's come clear: anybody but "Aunt Polly" Clinton would have stood a chance (except maybe Elizabeth Warren). An All-American Tom Sawyer drama played out, only this one with far, far more insidious overtones.

We should--we really should--have run Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden. As a woman who would have loved to see a woman elected, I hate to say that.

But we really weren't ready for a woman president. The guys wouldn't have it. Nor would many of the gals. She's "coming for our guns" had a deeper resonance that we knew. She might make us do our homework too. 

"Aunt Polly" Clinton. I voted for her, but it wasn't going to happen.

The men voted for someone in the John Elredge mode, whose publisher described his book Wild at Heart as follows:

"A formidable answer to an age-old question: How can a man make himself tolerable and useful while accepting and expressing his primordial maleness--the searching and aggressive urges to conquer what needs subduing, protect the vulnerable, fix what is broken, compete and risk what demands to be risked in himself and the world? The author’s message is set in the Christian tradition without being controlled by its ideology. Eldredge believes that institutions can oppress a man’s heart and keep society from benefiting from his fierce desire to love, do good, fight evil, and go beyond the limits."

 Trump clearly appealed to that.

He signaled he'd take care of her.
Of course, as Christianity Today put it, 

"Far from revealing the vigor of the Almighty, Eldredge removes it… . Eldredge has employed the reverse of John the Baptist's axiom: In order for men to increase, God must decrease."

But plenty of evangelicals voted for Trump.

So now we are faced with the possibility of World War III. 

When I saw Trump at the rally held at Ohio University Eastern  over the summer, he did ramble on at length about it being weak and foolish not to water board and torture prisoners because the terrorists "put people in cages and burn them alive." What's a little water boarding to that? Now that he's in power, he's doing what he said or at least putting in people who are of that mindset.

I want to believe there's going to be a good outcome to all this. I remember after 9/11, when I had to face, sadly, that it was the work of Middle Eastern terrorists, that we'd have to lob a few bombs on someone, probably Afghanistan. I comforted myself that we would drop a few bombs and go home, having made our statement.

How wrong I was. So now I fear my own optimism: Maybe we won't have a major war.

But, on the other hand, I do believe in miracles and if there ever were a moment ... . What do you think? 


  1. I don't believe in miracles, but feel in this case as this now super-powerful man (why did we not see Obama as this?) takes office that he will lurch in wholly unexpected yet expected ways. We can't foresee what he will use to engineer an overt take over using a steal glove.

  2. A stunned and frightened student of mine from NH, said he thought Trump was surprised to win the election and that he looked worried. I think he may have picked up on something, as Hilary Clinton did win the popular vote. Trump, however, is now delivering his newly acquired power to the Alt-right. Did he simply win the election to satisfy his own humongous ego? Will the GOP edge him out? What will happen when the disenfranchised who voted for him realize that they have been deceived once again? Will that anger, which Trump has stoked, be controllable?

    The problem, while undoubtedly a disaster for the US, is not unique to America. Look to the UK and Europe and one can see a similar shift to the extreme-right. The EU may also implode.

    As a woman and an outsider, what I have learned is that women have over-estimated their progress. What is needed and will surely emerge is a new wave of feminism, one that may finally make it to the finish line. Perhaps there is after all a moral lesson to be found in Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Unlike Hilary, Dorothy embraced the scarecrow (farmers) and tinman (workers) and together these "comrades" (a word Baum repeatedly uses) helped each other as they made their way to confront the wizard and expose the sham of patriarchy. Perhaps socialism is not dead. And Elizabeth Warren looks to me up for the job ahead!

  3. Dear Elaine,
    I would love to see Elizabeth Warren for president, but would also worry, sad to say. The Wizard of Oz analogy is great: the female reaching out to the common man and even to common men who felt useless (!), seeing their value and working with them to overthrow a despotic witch. And I too hope feminism can find its new (and final) wave, one that transcends identity politics, as feminism was meant to, and unite all people.