When Donald Trump met with House Republicans to talk about cutting maternity care, contraception and abortion out of basic health coverage in the U.S., the male gathering, shown above, drew lots of social media attention.
Jill Filipovic of the New York Times considers the convergence of image and policy and decides in this op-ed that it may not be a gaffe but a continuation of Trump electoral strategy.
This isn’t the first celebratory photo the White House has released of men cutting health care for women. When Mr. Trump signed the global “gag rule,” which pulls United States funding from organizations abroad that so much as mention the word “abortion” (even organizations that don’t provide abortions), he did it flanked by a half-dozen white men in suits. The rule is an order that primarily affects women in developing countries, who will see their access to contraception and even basic services like malaria treatment constrained by funding cuts that politicize global health. That image was similar to one of President George W. Bush surrounded entirely by grinning men as he signed a ban on a rare abortion procedure.
At some point, we have to ask: Is this really a pattern of errors? Maybe these aren’t tone-deaf mistakes at all, but intentional messages to right-wing supporters.
President Trump ran a campaign of aggrieved masculinity, appealing to men who felt their rightful place in society has been taken from them by a stream of immigrants stealing their jobs, women who don’t need husbands to support them, and members of minority groups who don’t work as hard but still get special treatment.
Mr. Trump oozes male entitlement, from his brash insistence that he’s the best at everything despite knowing very little about anything to his history of crass sexism. Liberal political analysts, and even some conservative ones, assumed that would hurt him in a more feminist world. With women, it did, though not as much as people might have expected. It didn’t hurt him with men, though — Mr. Trump won them with the biggest gender gap since the advent of exit polling. That he was running against Hillary Clinton, the quintessential Hermione outsmarting the boys in class, brought this white masculinity message into sharper relief: Trump supporters didn’t just oppose Mrs. Clinton, they hated her with unchecked phallic rage, wearing “Trump That Bitch” T-shirts.
There’s more. But I think she may be onto something.