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Oh, the pettiness of men.
Centuries of gender conditioning have codified certain kinds of qualities as typically male or typically female, a mentality that continues to inform how we regard men and women and expect them to behave. To men, it should come as no surprise to know, it is bestowed upon such attributes as bravery, integrity, strength, practicality, and substance, while women are often characterized as the weaker, flightier, more superficial and less intelligent sex, dominated by their emotions. Men, on the other hand, are creatures of reason, and therefore of superior intelligence, preoccupied with serious matters. Women, it follows, are less concerned with issues and more prone to gossip.
And yet, if the recent spate of tell-all books is anything to go by, men seem to be bigger gossips than women. There’s Michael Wolff, who wrote Fire and Fury, a gleeful account of several months he spent snooping around the White House shortly after Donald Trump’s election. More recently, there’s the much-awaited memoir, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership, written by former FBI Director James Comey, which takes potshots—in between ruminations on truth and principle—at the US president. Granted, Donald Trump just can’t help it, he is a creature of utter ridicule that he makes taking potshots at him so very easy. No wonder Comey, who called him completely “unethical” and “untethered to truth” and totally unfit to be president of the United States, can’t help but throw shade at the man, noting that when they finally met in person, the bombastic president seemed small not just in height, but also in hand size.
“His face appeared slightly orange, with bright white half-moons under his eyes where I assumed he placed small tanning goggles,” Comey writes. He also notes Trump’s “impressively coifed, bright blond hair, which upon close inspection looked to be all his,” and adds, “As he extended his hand, I made a mental note to check its size. It was smaller than mine, but did not seem unusually so.”
Mind you, James Comey at 6’8 easily towers over the orange one, who stands at 6’3.
And then of course there is Trump himself, who is the embodiment of playground bully and wannabe Mafia don, who turns petulant and petty when he is criticized or more often, ridiculed and humiliated. His preferred weapon of defense is Twitter, with misspelled rantings more evocative of a whiny child than the president of the world’s only superpower (for now) rendered in all caps and an avalanche of exclamation points. To prove it, he wasted very little time attacking Comey for the unpardonable slight to his character—quite an irony, considering he seems to be severely lacking in that department—and called his former FBI chief an “untruthful slime ball.”
Trump, however, is such an irredeemably morally (and in the past, financially) bankrupt person that what he might consider to be witty burns—Liddle Bob Corker, Little Adam Schiff, Little Marco Rubio—are really just unimaginative disses that not only fall flat, but reveal him to be a person as small as those he attacks, mentality and in character.
Unsurprisingly his obsession with smallness comes from his pathological need to show that he is the bigger man in terms of power, strength, wealth, and intelligence, not to mention d*ck size. And, because life for him is a non-stop d*ck measuring contest which he always has to win, he has to have all the classic accoutrements of the man insecure about his size and stature: The glamorous wife, the private plane, the gaudy gilded homes, and the bottled blond daughter whose attractiveness and f*ckability he frequently and creepily alludes to.
So when an even sleazier version of himself is described in accounts by people ranging from patriots like James Comey to spies like Christopher Steele, as well as porn stars like Stormy Daniels, he goes ballistic.
According to Comey’s memoir, the president was far more fixated on the lewd reports of escapades in a Russian hotel suite in the CIA dossier that revealed his proclivity for prostitutes and golden showers, than he was with the threat posed by Russia to American democracy.
An NPR story on Comey’s book says, “Trump strongly denied the allegations, asking—rhetorically, I assumed—whether he seemed like a guy who needed the service of prostitutes,” the former FBI director writes. One reason Trump wanted the allegations disproved was because he feared there was a very slim chance his wife, Melania, might believe them.
“He just rolled on, unprompted, explaining why it couldn’t possibly be true, ending by saying he was thinking of asking me to investigate the allegation to prove it was a lie. I said it was up to him,” Comey writes.
In the novel The Windfall by Diksha Basu, a comedy of manners set among India’s rapidly increasing tech tycoons, it is the women who ponder weightier matters while the men—the suddenly wealthy and upwardly mobile paterfamilias Mr. Jha and Mr. Chopra, frenemies from the start—engage in gossip and d*ck-measuring contests.
Mr. Jha was moving into the house vacated by Mr. Chopra’s neighbors, who had presumably made so much money they moved to London. Mr. Jha must be wealthy, because Mr. Chopra knew the house wasn’t cheap.
“It was a bungalow with front and back yards. The driveway was comfortably fifteen yards long and the Mukherjees had planted trees so carefully along the fence around the perimeter that you couldn’t see any of the barbed wire around the fence. So thick was the greenery that over the last five years, two thieves had injured themselves on the barbed wire while trying to climb into the Mukherjees’ property. Not a single thief had tried coming into the Chopras’ property. It was worrying. To experiment, Mr. Chopra had the glass shards that lined the top of his fence removed one day. He then sat in his yard at night and monitored those sections, waiting for a thief to intrude. None did. A lone monkey climbed through around 11 p.m., which caused Mr. Chopra to go rushing back into the house and have the glass shards put back in place the next day.”
Ah, the pettiness of grown men.
B. Wiser is the author of Making Love in Spanish, a novel published by Anvil Publishing and available in National Book Store and Powerbooks, as well as online. When not assuming her Sasha Fierce alter-ego, she takes on the role of serious journalist and media consultant.
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Art by Yayie Motos
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