I’m surprised to find myself thinking about Trump’s sex life– and not a propos of his violating campaign laws with illegal pay-offs, and not just for the prurient purposes that sell tabloids (and so much else).
No, as one who has spent a half century studying the destructive forces at work in our world, I’ve researched the lives of some important “monsters” who have sullied the pages of human history. (And yes, I consider the man now in the White House to be so broken as to qualify as a monster.)
For my 1988 book (with the subtitle HEALING THE WOUNDS THAT DRIVE US TO WAR), for example, I looked extensively into the psychology of Hitler and Stalin, and found sexual history that seemed relevant to understanding Hitler, but nothing along those lines that seemed to illuminate Stalin’s monstrousness.
Anyway, like a lot of people these days, I’ve found myself drawn to the task of understanding this appalling person, Trump, who has dominated practically every news cycle for nearly two and a half years. Until the past few days, I have thought about Trump’s sexuality just in the usual ways of how it reveals his misogyny, his love of domination, his impulse to humiliate others, his lack of moral integrity etc.
But a new train of thought has emerged. I admit, it’s highly speculative. But I think it worth sharing, so here it is.
Deeper Into Darkness?
The first point — essential to my argument, though of uncertain validity — is that Donald Trump has only in recent years become the so-thoroughly-evil person we now see.
Yes, it’s true, many of his repulsive qualities have long been on display: his racism (Central Park 5), his misogyny (Hollywood Access tape), his lying and conning, his narcissism, his greed, etc.
But I think something has gone wrong with him over the past decade, descending deeper into darkness. Two lines of thought lead me to that intuitive impression.
First, how he looks, by which I mean the physical appearance of Trump’s face.
When I look at the pictures of the younger Trump — mostly decades ago, but even into the early years of this millennium — what strikes me is that the face we see then — a handsome face, that seems at time perhaps to have a quality of boyish sweetness — does NOT look like a face that would have evolved into the ugliness we see in the thuggish mug we see today.
It’s probably somewhat true that, as George Orwell said, “At 50, everyone has the face he deserves.” But it does not look to me that — if the face that Donald Trump had at 60 was the face he then deserved — 12 years later that same man would deserve this face Trump wears now.
Unless something fundamental had shifted at the level of his soul.
The second avenue to that same sense of moral/spiritual deterioration is less tangible. But my sense is that as bad as the younger Trump was, he did not seem like a person who would be so thoroughly and deeply broken that, if that person were to become President, he would unerringly and consistently (and insistently) make choices that make everything worse.
Trump, in other words, seems to have given himself over to evil far more completely than he had before.
If I’m mistaken about this discontinuity in Trump’s evolution — i.e. about Trump’s having lately moved far deeper into brokenness — then there’s nothing that needs explaining, and the rest of this piece is irrelevant. But if Trump has been “breaking bad” in recent years, then the question arises:
What happened to make Trump the more broken, more ugly, more evil person we see him now to be as President?
That’s the question that leads to my wonderings about Trump’s sex life.
Central to His Identity
One of the core ideas in a piece I published back in 2017 — titled “The Sacred Space of Lovers” — is that because the passing of life from generation to generation is such an essential requirement of what has been required for our form of life to survive, we are structured so that those parts of our being involved with that process go deep. Those experiences that have been associated ancestrally with the successful accomplishment of that essential life-mission register within us as importantly fulfilling, because that sense of deeply important value is what motivates us to do what the perpetuation of our kind requires us to do.
That piece — about the “sacred space” — was focused especially on the depth of fulfillment that is possible when the various dimensions involved in the “lovers'” relationship are brought together in an integrated way. These dimensions include not just sexuality, but also love, and the other kinds of wholeness that help establish a foundation for the formation of a healthy family. Meaning the kind of family that best nurtures the healthy growth of the resulting children, who are equipped to begin that process all over again when they reach maturity.
With Donald Trump, that kind of “sacred space” seems clearly to have never been in the cards. It seems clear that he is simply not emotionally capable of the kind of open-hearted, caring, kind, honest relationship it would require.
Nonetheless, we have abundant evidence that his own variety of sexual expression was of central importance to Trump throughout his life. The “Access Hollywood” tape is one bit of evidence, his appearances on Howard Stern’s radio shows provides more, as do the many women who have come forward to describe the ways in which Trump imposed himself on them in a sexual way.
It may not have been a healthy kind of sexuality, but clearly being some kind of a “stud,” and imposing his power on women in sexual ways, were central to his identity.
Which raises the question: what would be the impact on Trump if somehow he lost all that?
Where’s Donald the Stud?
I’m wondering: does Trump have a sex life anymore? The question arises out of these considerations. Once again, this about intuition and speculation– I could be wrong.
But it does not seem to me, looking at what’s visible to the outside, that Trump and his wife have that kind of connection (any more). Can I judge? I don’t know. But from the vibes one sees from Melania to her husband, it sure doesn’t look like it.
So is Trump having other kinds of sexual relationships, a la Bill Clinton when he was President. My intuition says that he is not, which would raise the question of why he isn’t.
First, we know that he wouldn’t restrain himself because he’s a married man. One need only mention Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, with whom he was sexually involved after marrying.
Second, it seems doubtful, knowing all we know about Trump, that he would have the kind of discipline — that Bill Clinton so unfortunately lacked — to restrain himself lest he create problems for his presidency?
Besides, there’s some suggestive evidence that well before Trump became President, something about Trump’s sexual behavior changed. That evidence lies in the record of the various women who came forward, during the campaign, to accuse Trump of having sexually assaulted them.
If we look at the dates of the alleged assaults — they can be found in this article — something striking shows up. There’s one accusation dating back to the 1980s, six women allege that he assaulted them in the 1990s, ten accusations concern assaults in the first decade of this century, leaving only one that is said to have occurred since 2007. Only one — that one in 2013, when he is accused of having grabbed a woman in a sexual way — in the past eleven years.
We’ve heard plenty about the hush money Trump directed to be paid to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to keep them quiet– about their sexual connection with Trump back in 2006. If there had been other women he’d been having affairs within the past 12 years, wouldn’t we have heard something about efforts to keep them quiet as well?
All of which leads to the thought that, in recent years, Trump’s life may have become sexless.
Of course, if it’s not true that Trump is living a sexless life, there’s no need for an explanation of the hypothesized change. But we do have reason to ask: Why would his affairs have stopped 12 years ago, and why would his practice of assaulting women all but stopped 11 years ago?
And if it is the case that the sexual dimension of Trump’s life has more or less disappeared more than a decade ago– well before he became President or began to maneuver in that direction — why would that be? If we don’t think the explanation lies in his political status, nor in a moral transformation regarding marital fidelity or greater respect for women, what then is left?
What occurs to me, after I’ve rejected other possible explanations as too unlikely, is that perhaps Trump has suffered a loss of his sexual powers.
He looks brawny, but he is said to have a poor diet and not to believe in exercise. He’s not really in great shape, it seems. And at 72, he’s no spring chicken. Is it not plausible that this man, to whose identity it has always been of great importance to be a stud, has lost that form — so highly valued by him in younger years — of his previous vitality?
And then, if we regard all the links along this line of speculation to be plausible enough to be worth pursuing, the question would arise: if Trump did decline from stud to dud, what would be the effects of that loss on him?
Less Virile –> More Vile?
We’ve all been witness to how ferocious and fragile Trump’s narcissism is. He can’t seem to face the reality that he lost the popular vote, fair and square. Or that his Inaugural crowd was dwarfed by the one Obama had. He seems to need to hit back at anyone who criticizes him. He, with his great brain that makes him a stable genius, knows more than the generals. Did you know that he was marked to be a great baseball player? And he really seems to believe he deserves an A+ for his job as President so far.
This is not a man who can gracefully accept any reality that calls his stupendous greatness and marvelous power into question.
The loss of sexual potency would likely be a blow to almost any man. But with a man like Trump…?
The loss of a central part of his sense of personal power — a loss that would be experiential and difficult to just deny away — would likely be a blow that would inflame his always simmering rage, that would make his ever-present anger flare up into a greater intensity.
Whatever hurts Trump seems to provoke an urge for vengeance. If he’s hurt, the world must suffer. If a blow to him leaves him broken, his impulse is to break up things in the world.
So goes one line of my thinking to bridge this last step in constructing my hypothesis that Trump has become more evil because he’s suffered an intolerable loss of a part of his inflated self-image, a part that is connected with his core as a human being.
Is this hypothesis correct? Am I onto something here?
I really don’t know. There are several steps involved, each of them uncertain. Multiplying their probabilities of being valid, one comes up with a number a good deal less than 1.0.
But each of those steps seems worthwhile to consider on its own: 1) whether Trump has turned more evil over recent years, showing a discontinuity as he broke from being a mere sociopath to being genuinely evil; 2) whether Trump’s sexual life shows a parallel discontinuity, so that he’s no longer the stud and sexual predator he used to be but has become at that level emasculated; 3) and then the last step, which is only worth asking if the first two are true, of whether the decline noted in # 2 is a reason for the moral and spiritual abyss into which Trump has plunged, that unfailing choice to make the world worse noted in # 1.