OPINION: Ask Sigmund: the psychology of Hillary haters and the emasculated male voter
“If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?”
With the rise of the pant-suited democratic presidential candidate, there have been just as many impulsive quips about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s vagina as there has been about her support of the Iraq War Resolution. Politics, principles and policies aside, we have been audience to an electoral climate rampant with untenable misogyny and aggression. What’s more, we are not just seeing this phenomenon with Hillary Clinton, and nor is this a contemporary condition. Women have been hitting the proverbial glass ceiling of the political, business and scientific spheres since their insertion into the workforce. So what exactly is it that makes so many men abhor the working woman?
Having done some cursory research on the Hillary haters, among valid political disagreements regarding her support of military intervention in Libya, I came across an article on ‘manlogic.net’ outlining the reasons a “woman like Clinton” would be unfit to govern:
“There’s an evil plot to emasculate men and electing a female President contributes to that. This is why I’m anti-Hillary. If men can’t run the country then what are we good for? I can hear the voices of women in the back of my mind taunting me.”
What was immediately evident about this passage was its unembroidered infantilism. Could this guy genuinely believe what he’s writing? As it turns out, the author of this article was not alone in his fear. There are hundreds of declarations of hate flooding the Internet from ineffectual men lamenting the seizure of their social and political dominance. It seems to be that it is this perception that is the basis of mistrust and aversion towards women in the workforce: men feel ‘emasculated’ merely by the presence of a female colleague. But what is it that this emasculation stems from?
If I have learned anything from my psychology major, it is to treat the teachings of Sigmund Freud as more of a stepping-stone in the formation of the psychological discipline, rather than empirical truth. However, when it came to the male psyche, desperate times called for desperate measures, and I looked where his unsubstantiated wisdom pointed: the mother.
The majority of men today have been raised in a nuclear household, with their mothers dutifully playing the role of the primary caretakers and domestic custodians, while their fathers laid claim over the professional field. It makes sense that inhabiting this type of environment in your formative years may lead to the perception that a woman’s expected social responsibility is childrearing and menial duties. However, this assumption will surely be galvanized by the experience those young boys have of entering the workplace, and seeing that the majority of their colleagues are men. Before long, we have yet another generational perception that women belong with the babies, not in the boardroom.
So what happens when a woman does break through the traditional, nuclear responsibilities set out for her? When men who have had the liberty of acclimatising to a society where they have been given authority, suddenly find themselves in a position of working for a woman, what possible experience of female power do they have for reference? Their mothers. What we are looking at when we see the en masse emasculation of male constituents and coworkers, is in fact a regression to the rebellious ‘teenage phase’ of adolescence, bawling to their mothers that she can’t tell them what to do.
But we all know that when mum says no, dad will say yes. Donald Trump, as a spectacle (rather than a presidential candidate), is a direct reflection of a profound fear among American men. He is representative of this Freudian reaction against the ‘female uprising’, and is using this anxiety to incite his followers: roughly 49% of American men. In order to reverse the narrative that Trump is riding a wave of resurgent ‘bravery’ and ‘honesty’ in the electoral realm, we must name and shame him for what he truly is: a fear monger to the impotent masses.
So what can we do to fight this regression? With the leverage of women from solely domestic responsibilities, and access to higher positions in the business domain, we can minimise this reaction from men and start to interact with female politicians and women in power on a more level playing field. Because when we normalize women in the workplace, we can expect to see progress in the acceptance of women in higher positions – even those in the White House. In the meantime, it is the responsibility of prejudiced men to re-evaluate their positions towards powerful women, rather than women having to explain and justify their accomplishments. Because unfortunately when we see that anomaly – the success of professional women – men always seem to stick to their well-worn traditions: just say, "mum’s the word".