Above are two excellent specimens of men who are too weak to deal with real women, one from a fictional film and the other from "reality" television.
Watching presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump's very low-energy speech on Tuesday night, with some of "his" women standing behind him, my wife, Anne, came up with the key to understanding the most fundamental of his psychological problems. "They look like Stepford Wives standing behind him," she remarked.
Exactly. Donald Trump's most basic problem, that from which so much of his other behavior stems, is the same problem that the men in the classic 1975 film The Stepford Wives had: their insecurity in their own masculinity--their fear that they weren't "real men."
The film is really about men who are not strong enough to deal with real women and so decide to replace them with robots who will do just what they want women to do.
Like the men attracted to the Trump campaign, the Stepford Husbands want to return to the good old days of the 1950s, when white men's control was virtually unchallenged and they could be dominant without the need for any qualification other than having a Y-chromosome. The Stepford Wives are mechanical versions of the "ideal" 1950s woman who was supposed to do whatever her husband told her to do, look beautiful for him, clean his house, cook his meals, take care of his children, and have sex with him whenever he wanted it.
The Stepford husbands don't appear to be very good at anything but making money. They need the artificial reassurance of their "manhood" provided by a pre-programmed robot woman who responds to intercourse with:
"Nobody's ever touched me the way you touch me, Frank! You're the best, Frank!
Ohhh, God, are you the best! You're the king, Frank! Ooooh! You're the best--you're the champion, Frank! Oh--OOOHH! You're the MASTER!"
If that doesn't sound to you like what Donald Trump seeks, substituting "Donald" for "Frank," you haven't been paying attention.
What ties together so many of Mr. Trump's bat-shit statements, attitudes, insults and positions is an obvious "yuuuge" case of insecure masculinity.
■ A man who is secure about his masculinity doesn't feel the need to boast about the size of his penis--any time, let alone in a nationally televised presidential debate.
■ A man who is secure about his masculinity doesn't pretend he is someone else and call reporters to brag about all the women he has and all the actresses and singers who "want" him.
■ A man who is secure about his masculinity doesn't seek to belittle women by calling them "bitches," "pigs," "bimbos," "dogs," "slobs," and "disgusting animals," say they're "bleeding from somewhere," or ridicule a woman for taking longer to go to the bathroom than a man does.
■ A man who is secure about his masculinity doesn't say his own daughter is so "hot" that he would like to "date" her.
■ A man who is secure about his masculinity doesn't feel the need to proclaim: "I love beautiful women, and beautiful women love me."
■ A man who is secure about his masculinity doesn't say things like, "it doesn't really matter what [the media] write as long as you've got a young and beautiful piece of ass."
■ A man who is secure about his masculinity doesn't act as a bully, call opponents by silly grade-school insulting names, ridicule members of minority groups and people who are handicapped.
■ A man who is secure about his masculinity doesn't have a compulsion to build phallic towers around the world and put his name on them.
At the end of Stepford Wives, Diz (Patrick O'Neal), the mastermind behind the scheme, explains to Joanna (Katharine Ross), the female lead in the film, the appeal replacing real women with totally subservient, fawning facsimiles has for insecure males: "Think of it the other way around. Wouldn't you like some perfect stud waiting on you around the house, praising and servicing you, whispering how your sagging flesh was beautiful, no matter how you looked?"
In her powerful 1997 proclamation of female freedom, "Bitch," Meredith Brooks provides the analysis that explains the Stepford Husbands, Donald Trump, and so many of the men who are following the whiny, insecure bully who has become the presumptive Republican nominee:
So take me as I am
This may mean
You'll have to be a stronger man
Strong men have no problem dealing with real women. Weak men, insecure in their own masculinity, such as the fictional Walter Eberhart in The Stepford Wives, the semi-fictional Donald Trump in The Stepford Husbands Seize the GOP, and so many of the men who are following Trump, are not ready to be stronger men and take women as they are.
In 2016, weak, insecure Stepford "Men" will vote for someone like themselves, Donald J. Trump. Strong, secure men will have no difficulty in voting for a strong woman, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Robert McElvaine teaches history at Millsaps College, is the author of ten nonfiction books and has just completed a draft of his first novel, "What It Feels Like ..."}