I just look at the results of the election, especially now the stats are in, and it just screams Triumph of Masculinity to me. The celebratory pictures all feature bros to the hilt, the 87+ reported nation-wide hate crimes all have bros at the center. The vote difference is barely a percentage or two, but the polarisation of it goes all to white men and women, slightly better off ones, versus everyone else. It feels like a vote for keeping the opportunity to get ahead over other people's backs versus creating a truly level playing field, a vote for sending destructive rage to Washington versus a vote to send someone to continue the current lines for social justice, a vote for chaos over policy wonkishness.
America doesn't like wonks. Al Gore lost because it felt like he'd spend time devising policy instead of going out for beer with you. Literally, that was the family commentary I got in 2000.
It is a vote for muscularity, bias to action, robustness, speed, with a big dose of chaos, and may the chips fall hard--which is why it feels like such a fascist vote. It was not a vote for sharing, policy, balancing, stability. And gender-wise, it literally was man vs woman, and the man won in large part because the woman got unbelievable misogyny sent her way for her continuing ambition.
It feels familiar. No, not W, though the current days of grokking that That Guy with That Dudes Family will now get to live in the White House, currently inhabited by a model nuclear family of love, intelligence, and class, is just like when I realized That Smirk would now run the military. No, the way this feels is Reagan, what I grew up watching. Individualism, bootstraps, me-first, muscularity. A counter-notion to all this chaos and freedom being unleashed by people exploring themsleves in millions of directions of tie-dye and hippies and New Age. Yes to coke that keeps you awake at the office for days, no to toking that makes you passive and accepting. Yes to power suits, no to freaks and punks (who flourished in their counter-cultures). And yes to bodies being grown big in gleaming palaces. The 70s era of boogieing--where a Rolling Stone article about it led to SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER--gives way to an era of aerobics, freshly repackaging boring calisthenics, and pumping iron--where a Rolling Stone article about that scene leads to another Travolta classic, PERFECT. Me me me in red power ties and tubs of whey in their duffle bags; yes, this election reminds me of the 80s.
White maculinity, white muscularity. The 80s body cuture created the 90s heroin-chic reaction, but ever since then bros soldiered on, chugging protein powder and they are even lifting bro. But now there's a 010 twist to it: Instagram life. Massive amounts of boys and mens are posing their muscles like Kim K and all her knock-offs sell their boobs and ass, to a degree that would not have been acceptable as masculine in the late 80s outside certain circles of Death Metal. But then again, we've gone way past the 80: Jersey Shore globally already over a decade ago normalized Tan Gym Laundry as a lifetsyle, Guido Juicehead as an archetype to tap into a market with, and now 10-year-old boys have eating disorders and typing in #fitness gets you as many men as women posing their almost-naked bodies for the explicit goal to create envy and lust, and they're seriously not just gay men.
Why, though? Why are boys showing off that much? A year ago some article posited that the body-obsession was one of the escapes young men had to the Millenial con game where Boomers extracted all value by borrowing on the future and the bills were now coming due in such a way that young people with massive student debt and no good job or safety net had absolutely nothing to look forward to but roommates and three barista jobs. You can't get a deposit for even a new car, but you can invest your time and sweat in lifting weights, injecting roids, and getting those hearts on your pics. Besides, eating only vegetables and chicken breast is cheap. It's an utter drag, but it is something. The article made the need for control and pride sound like anorexia.
So, a victory for bros. A victory that at best will unleash chaos if Trump follows through with putting nobody with any experience in any post, and at worst is already shaping up at having even more insidery insider lobbysist run Washington. I'd be surprised if things got better for young people, or older people, or anyone under $200K a year. The trends are on track, and they are not going to change for social sharing, respect, and empathy. Expect the ideal male body to get a lot bulkier again, the bros to seriously turn their 6-week light steroid cycles into 15 week drags, action heroes to be played by IFBB pros again or have the current crop be digitally altered to look like that, and locker room talk to be the new vernacular.
But let me tell you a little secret I know from inside the iron halls: it's never enough. The biggest guy is always worried he is not big enough. The middle guys are always checking each other out, and because they believe in individuality and hierarchy, they are consumed by ranking each other and fear of losing. The drag to get there is unbeleivable, with every step to 'the next level' taking the same amount of will power and time and effort as the 5 before it together.
Nothing was never enough for Trump. Nothing is ever enough in the muscle game if you are doing it for comparison and your sense of pride is counted in other's looks. No remedy is ever enough when you see your prvilege being chipped away as minorities come to equality and the smaller guys or even women lift almost as much as you. It will never be enough, and you will never be happy if all you can see is the next level, and what you are now and the amount of hearts you got today is not enough.