How Donald Trump Became America's Toxic Ex-Boyfriend

We know how dangerous men like him are when faced with the word "no".

donald trump at a microphone, making a weird gesture Matt Smith Photographer/

Most women know the potential risks that come with rejecting a guy

Whether you're telling a stranger to stop catcalling you as you walk down the street or breaking up with a partner, there's always a chance you will be hurt or lashed out at.  

Sure, most guys handle your rejection without any backlash. Most men are, in my experience, good human beings. 

But there's always that guy who won't handle it well. He will scream and intimidate you, stalk you, publicly humilate you, make up lies and spread rumors, and maybe even respond with violence. 


And many in society will tell you that's normal; that you deserved it for hurting his feelings or pushing him too far.

That's why very few women I know were shocked by President Trump's behavior and actions when he lost the presidential election in November.

Nor were we surpsied that he encouraged and even incited the violence that took place on January 6th at the U.S. Capitol. 

We know who he is. He's petty and immature. 

Before he was a politician he was a game show host who lashed out at the Emmys because he'd never won one of their awards for The Apprentice — and claimed the award show was rigged against him.


He's called leaders of foreign nations names like he's a common schoolyard bully — including leaders of nations that have nuclear weapons and an active grudge against us

The only thing surprising about Donald Trump's behavior is that people continue to be surprised by it. 

RELATED: Trump's Demise Is A Critical Reminder That Narcissists Devour Those Closest To Them First

In general, men don't handle rejection well. That's likely because they aren't taught to hear and respect the person who is telling them "no".


Pushing past boundaries and winning at all costs is a trait that's highly valued in the men of this nation, including (perhaps especially) in the white wealthy elite cultrure Trump was raised in.

Breaking laws and screwing people over in order to win, in order to make more money, is almost considered a family value these days for wealthy Americans.

Finding ways to avoid paying your fair share of taxes, making excuses not to support racial justice, and committing to keeping poor people poor (so the rich can keep more of the money) is now considered downright patriotic. 

We also know, based upon the accounts of 26 different women and the Access Hollywood tapes, that President Trump doesn't know how to take "no" for an answer and will become even more aggressive when faced with a person who doesn't give in to his demands. 


But it's not just Trump. As I said before, most women know what it's like to face the rage of a man who has been scorned, and we all know how dangerous it can be. 

Close to four women per day in the United States are murdered by an intimate partner, and the most dangerous time in the life of a victim of intimate partner violence is when they try to leave their abusive partner (though please know that you can get away from an abuser, if you are in that situation).


As Carol A. Lambert, MSW, wrote in Psychology Today, statistically, "[a] woman’s life is safer with someone she doesn’t know than with a man she knows."

RELATED: Why Boys Are Mean To Girls Who Don't 'Like' Them — And What Parents Can Do About It

So, no. We, the women of this nation were not surprised that Donald Trump initially said he would not leave office peacefully if Joe Biden was elected.

We were not surprised when he refused to concede to Vice President Biden after a clear winner was declared in December. 

We were not surprised that he refused to condemn the Proud Boys or any other white nationalist group who supports him, who does his racist bidding. We weren't even surprised when he told them to "stand by".


Not one woman I know was shocked to see Trump egging on the rioting insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol, breaking law after law, damaging and stealing government and private property. 

We weren't surprised that five people died as a result, including a police officer. Though, of course, we were devastated. 

We weren't surprised to learn that he resisted efforts to call in the National Guard, despite being asked to do so and we were far from shocked that the Guard only arrived after VP Mike Pence's own security requested them.

And we aren't surprised that Trump says he won't attend the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, breaking a tradition as old as our nation.


This is what happens in a society that values financial success and the acquisition of power over human life. 

RELATED: 5 Key Personality Traits Most Trump Supporters Have In Common

Donald Trump is a symbol of a type of masculinity that has been tolerated and over-indulged for far too long.

It is a form of toxic masculinity that keeps the needs of individual men at the center, even while everything else falls apart. 

Other examples of this are star athletes who are essentially allowed to cheat in school in order to maintain eligibility, whose bad behavior is ignored and dismissed, and who are even given passes when they commit rape and assault because the administration and even justice system doesn't want to "ruin" that boy's future with a harsh penalty. 


Think of the football players in Steubenville, OH who filmed themselves sexually assaulting a girl but weren't held accountable until the video was leaked to the public. 

Think of the Stanford rapist who was caught violently assaulting an unconscious woman out in the open on campus. The judge sentenced him to only six months for his crimes, and he ended up serving only half of that. 

This nation has raised boys and men within a paradox wherein they are to be strong at all times, and that strength is the most important trait they can have — all while telling them that they are too delicate to handle rejection, and that petiness, rage and violence are justifiable responses to having their feelings hurt.


Every time a man or boy's behavior is excused by saying "boys will be boys" we underline the fact that we believe masculinity is, inherently, dangerous. All while bemoaning the fact that women don't trust men, and calling women who accuse men of sexual assault liars. 

So, no. I'm not surprised that Donald Trump has been nothing but petty and self-serving since experiencing his ultimate rejection. I'm not surprised five people died as a result of his tantrums. 

I'm only surprised that other people — or, more accurately, white men — are just now catching on to how dangerous men's tantrums can be. 

RELATED: As A Black Woman, The U.S. Capitol's Policing Hypocrisy Isn't Surprising To Me At All


Joanna Schroeder is a feminist writer and media critic whose writing has appeared in The New York Times, Time, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, BuzzFeed, Esquire, Vox, and more. She has a degree in gender studies from UCLA and is raising three very busy kids while working from home. Follow her on Twitter for more.

*Shout-out to my pal Alex Yarde for the catchy headline idea

**This essay was updated by the author to clarify one section with confusing language.