Manhood on the ballot: Trump’s self-absorbed bullying vs. Biden’s compassion and humility – USA TODAY

Posted: October 28, 2020 at 6:54 pm

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Ed Adams and Ed Frauenheim, Opinion contributors Published 6:01 a.m. ET Oct. 26, 2020

The 2020 presidential election is about two versions of manhood as much as it is about two men.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden represent starkly different models of masculinity, with Trump embodying a traditional male ethos and Biden an emerging one. The stakes are high for the kind of man we select as our national leader. It will inform how men can show up at home, work and play, how well we address questions of social injustice, and whether we can solve pressing global problems.

Based on years of working with and observing men in counseling settings, mens groups and in the workplace, we arrived at the term confined masculinity to capture the way traditional views of masculinity limit a mans world view, restrict him to just a few roles such as the protector and the provider and inhibit him from developing strong, loving, intimate relationships.

The result is a manhood defined by features that include tribalism, stoicism, aggression, self-centerednessand a lack of self-awareness.

Confined masculinity tends to be unhealthy. Studies show that men who are frequently angry, highly competitive, emotionally constricted, lonelyand disconnected to others are prone to greater emotional and physical health issues, die earlierand report less life satisfaction.

Whats more, confined masculinity is a poor fit for the 21st century. We live in a world where women and other once-marginalized people are demanding fair treatment, where soft skillslike communication are now success skills at work,and where global challenges like pandemics and climate change require a recognition of our interdependence.

Thankfully, a masculinity suited to these times is on the rise.What we call liberating masculinity frees men to embrace additional dimensions such as caregiver, sensitive lover and environmental steward. With a liberating masculinity, men can break out of the emotional straitjacket many of us grew up with and reckon with privilege and power we have long benefited from.

Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump on Oct. 15, 2020.(Photo: Jim Watson and Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

Taking a hard look in the mirror isnt easy. And because the confined masculine ethos raises alarms at any notion of vulnerability, many men are digging in their heels and squeezing their eyes shut to todays realities. They are refusing, in effect, to grow up.

Trump is king of this confined, juvenile masculinity. He is defined by misogyny, combativenessand an obsession with seeming strong.

Trumps mockery of masks and disregard for social distancing amid the pandemic, for example, reflecta cramped, me only, adolescent masculinity. To view masks as unmanly and social distancing as cowardly is to embrace childish understandings of personal freedom and courage. Trump and men like him ignore the rights of others to remain free of avoiding a deadly illness, and skip the self-discipline, the mettle, to refrain from longed-for social gatherings.

Trump is the bad dad: Real men embrace their sons and fathers, just like Joe and Hunter Biden in that photo

Biden, on the other hand, generally lives out a liberating masculinity. He chose a woman of color to be his running mate, symbolizing his willingness to tackle questions of gender and racial inequality. He is mature and humble enough to listen to scientific experts when it comes to masks and physical distancing. He recognizes the need for global collaboration on climate change.

Yet Bidens most dramatic difference from Trump involves compassion. Instead of letting personal tragedy harden his heart, Biden has shared his sorrow and has opened his heart to others who are suffering.

Perhaps the most striking moment of the first presidential debate was when Trump falsely accused Hunter Bidenof being dishonorably discharged from the military for cocaine use. Biden corrected Trump on the facts. But rather than deny Hunters struggle, he turned to the camera and said this: My son, like a lot of people had a drug problem. ... Hes fixed it, hes worked on it. And Im proud of him.

Unfeeling bully, meet loving father.

Because Trump bullied less in the second debate, many felt a sense of relief. But he continued to make grandiose claims on matters like the economy, his pandemic performance and his achievements for immigrants and Black Americans. He repeated the line that with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln, nobody has done more for the Black community than Donald Trump.

In contrast to Trumps braggadocio, Biden offered humility and a willingness to change. About the 1994 crime bill that resulted in many young Black men in jail, he said: It was a mistake. I've been trying to change it since then.

Honor fathers:Lets celebrate whats normal (not special) about dads caring for kids

Signs point to a country ready to leave behind Trump and his backward, self-absorbed masculinity in favor of Biden and his contemporary, inclusive male ethos. Polls show Biden with a steady lead. And despite Trumps attempt to wear the mantle of manliness,male voters support Bidenover him 49% to 45%.

Many American men clearlyare ready to break free of rigid, obsolete, often toxic man rules. In this election, with manhood on the ballot,we hope both men and womenwill choose a masculinity for our times, one that liberatesmen and all those around them to live healthier, happier and more connected lives.

Ed Adams is a psychologist and former president of Division 51 of the American Psychological Association,the division focused onthe treatment of men and boys. Ed Frauenheim (@edfrauenheim) issenior director of content at Great Place to Work and a writer specializing inworkplace culture.They are co-authors of the new book "Reinventing Masculinity: The Liberating Power of Compassion and Connection."


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Manhood on the ballot: Trump's self-absorbed bullying vs. Biden's compassion and humility - USA TODAY

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October 28th, 2020 at 6:54 pm

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