In his essay “Masculinity as Homophobia,” Michael Kimmel argues that homophobia is perpetuated by men’s fear of being seen as unmanly or feminine. Kimmel first discusses what he perceives to be the real definition of the word “homophobia.” He argues that this word has nothing to do with sexual orientation (the fear of gay people or the fear of being perceived as gay); rather, it is a fear of being perceived as unmanly, especially by other men. This fear starts at a very young age, when little boys are scared of being seen as or called a “sissy” at the playground. Later on, during adolescence and adulthood, this fear persists and dictates the way men behave because every mannerism, such as the way they walk or talk, could be interpreted as a sign of their lack of virility.
Another point that Kimmel discusses is that of power. To be a man means that you have to be more powerful than women as well as other men. In the feminist view, men, as a group, have all the power, in both the public and private spheres, whereas women, as a group, are powerless. The feminist point of view clashes with men’s actual experience: since a young age, men are taught that they are entitled to power, yet they do not feel powerful. This feeling of powerlessness, as Kimmel argues, is due to the fact that only a tiny fraction of men benefit from the construct of masculinity, meaning white heterosexual middle-class men. These men practice the politics of exclusion by considering anyone who does not fall under these categories as “unmanly.” They are threatened by other men and try to exclude as many of them from the definition of “manhood.” Therefore, men discriminate the majority of men on the basis of race, class, ethnicity, age, or sexual orientation in order to elevate themselves and feel somewhat powerful. It is the politics of exclusion that helps us understand how the issues of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia emerge and persist.
Kimmel’s arguments, in terms of both the fear of being seen as unmanly and the quest for power, can be exemplified by the case of Donald Trump. In fact, ever since a young age, when he went to a military academy, Trump never wanted to be seen as weak. Therefore, he gladly got into fights at school in order to demonstrate to other boys his strength and power. As he got older, he continued embracing the playboy mentality of his teenage years by dating and marrying models, whom he used as evidence of his virility. Not only does Trump seemingly have a fear of being emasculated, but he also has a strong quest for power. First, it started as a competition with his father. Donald Trump’s father, Fred Trump, was a successful businessman, and Donald desperately tried to surpass him. Then, once he surpassed him and became a multi-millionaire himself, Trump still wanted more power. However, in the business world, Trump was seen as a terrible businessman, especially by bankers, and was therefore criticized. Moreover, socially, the old money elite never saw Trump as one of them and never accepted him. Therefore, as a response to all the criticism he received from people around him and the media, he sought the biggest sign of power anyone could have by becoming the president of the United States.
On his quest for power, Donald Trump put down many groups of people in order to elevate himself. For instance, he believed that men are better than women. However, he did employ women to work for him because he believed that since women are inferior, a good woman is better than ten good men since she will work much harder to prove herself. Not only is Donald Trump sexist, but he is also racist as demonstrated by the fact that he and his father were accused of discriminating against Black people when hiring. Donald Trump is a perfect example of the type of masculinity that Kimmel discusses in his essay, the type of man who is so afraid of being seen as unmanly that he goes out of his way to prove his manliness most often by putting down others.