Saturday, November 5, 2016

Identity Gone Wrong Part 1

The title “How to Be a Man in the Age of Trump” in the October 16, 2016 edition of the New York Times concluded, “ it provided the beginning of a challenging discussion of what it should mean to be a man, and that it has inspired a bipartisan feminist movement.” In the article, the author identified a number of revelations about Trump like barging into the dressing room of the Miss Teen USA pageant; kissing a former Apprentice contestant during a meeting; grabbing the rear of a woman who was visiting his home in Palm Beach; jamming his tongue down the throat of a People magazine reporter, etc. the author also identified a number of high profile incidents of alleged harassment or sexual assaults that included: Clarence Thomas; William Kennedy Smith; Mike Tyson; Bill Cosby; Ray Rice; Roger Ailes, etc. The writer pointed out that such behavior is not representative men by a long shot, but can be found in high schools and college campuses. She gave an example of a situation were in a middle school dance when a male classmate slid behind a girl student on the dance floor , grabbed her by the waist and then grinded against her rear; and at college, when drunken party boys felt free to kiss, touch, and rub up against women as well. There has also been a defense that for Donald Trump, his sexist comments have simply been nothing more than locker room talk. I attended high school, university and played competitive sports and spent time in locker rooms. I was also in a college fraternity and I do not remember participating, witnessing or even hearing what I heard during this presidential election cycle. Further, I don’t have any baseline data to support my contention, but it appears that these behaviors are more plentiful than in the past. One way of viewing these sexist behaviors is the notion of identity formation. In forming an identity, important notions of developing trust, developing appropriate narcissism, establishing appropriate boundary limits are some of the psychological tasks required. For instance, a sense of trust, suggests a sense of being all right, of being oneself and becoming what other people trust one will become. However, the inability to develop a firm sense of secure trust leads to significantly impaired interpersonal relationships, as well as an immature and troubling personality. The dynamics of the ability to trust results in the following dynamics: an external goodness can become an internal certainty. By the same token, having a pathological distrust or anxious state, one simply experiences unpleasant inner or fearful harm as an outer one. This means that we tend to perceive people with evil or fear them, but this dynamic actually emanates within us. To Be Continued

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