One man is holding the world hostage, Vladimir Putin. Who is this man and how is it that he built a persona so powerful that western powers are feeling… powerless?
Let's look at an image, this image down here is banned in Russia.
Why is this image banned?
Because Putin needs to keep up his macho man persona, deeply embedded in ideas of patriarchy. Why you may ask? The same reason Hitler tried to appear as a man of power or the dictators in the past did or at present are doing.
You see, the macho man or the man of power, the man who can fix-it-all are personas built to appeal to a certain group of people. The people who vote/support/fund him.
Call these people religious, conservative, far-right, populists, extremists or oldies they have been the moving gears of the political systems worldwide for the longest time. While the rest of the ‘apolitical/disengaged’ people are drinking vodka and making ticktocks they have been voting and supporting these figureheads awed by a persona, a personality cult built on the ethos of extreme masculinity.
But Putin isn't the only one who wants to project his masculinity. It's the same with Trump (Republicans) in the USA, Modi in India, Xi in China. They divide the population to the right side and the wrong side. They would in one way or another try to say,
‘ Look at all these weak men and women: they are corrupt and they are not going to create a better country, they don't have a plan or solution, only I have the solution and only I can save you all. I am the messiah.’
What they mean is I can yell louder, fight harder and ride bears because I am the man. I am the personification of masculinity.
My uncle- in his sixties now, idolises the way Putin walks on television and how everyone is standing clapping and cheering him on. But he also thinks Hitler was a great man as he united the Germans under a banner.
He tried to copy the walk of Putin or the way Hitler gave speeches as a young man because he saw them as perfect examples of what a “man should be”. He was enthralled by the strongman he saw uniting people under a banner or bringing the world down to its knees.
This figure that my uncle likes, is a masculine figure. The man in power who is is better than us all when in reality he is repressive and dominating to the point that his image becomes untouchable.
People who want a simpler narrative of the world think this person can see the right from the wrong clearly while in actuality he is dividing the population into poles with lies and protecting it from critical thinking by oppressing critical thought.
You see, when dictators such as these arise, they try to repress freedom of speech, sexual expression etc on one hand to protect their image and on the other hand stroke fanaticism, extremism, nationalism and other hyper male ideals to dominate.
Where in truth he creates this image that he is on the side that represents the only truth-strength-right and so he can justify repressing and dominating the other which is wrong-weak-volatile.
These make up for a great political campaign. Because hate and division are easy to spread when this personality cult appeals to the male ego, something that might be a hybrid of identity and gender politics. And it has a strong appeal around the world, because the world as you might have noticed, is male-dominated.
As the western powers try to negotiate with a hyper chauvinist persona they must understand how much they can give in and what are the implications of these.
They take great care in crafting that image. And in that process become obsessed with it. In most cases, the chaos they create is a projection of the persona they want to hold on to. An image they see in their heads as the perfect example of a MAN in Power. And this is important, their image is what they will try to protect against all odds.
Putin is not alone obsessed with his hyper male persona, populist leaders are all using this hyper male persona/image to cling to power. Chinese leader Xi is responsible for the forced disappearances of booksellers and publishers who talked about his scandals with women.
And if we have to fight these hyper-masculine figures we must hit them at their core. And at their core is a fragile male ego. They will go to incredible lengths to protect it. So, when Putin is threatening nuclear war, I don't think he is bluffing. Its a massive who has the bigger balls show off. But the problem is he belongs to the image and not the other way around. Now the question is can we fight this testosterone-projecting image?
I wish I had an idea. Because this image is a lie, the super male ego represses everyone including the people who are haunted by it. I can't imagine the nightmares Putin must have, perhaps of turning into a woman quite suddenly. I cannot imagine how it must terrify him.
If we want to build a world where these sort of leaders lose their appeal I believe we have to make a world where the rulers rule like a mother. Of course, there are terrible mothers in this world too don't get me wrong. But I am just trying to imagine the world where the ideals of motherly love come into power. Ideals like kindness, compassion, and care. A bunch of leaders who could care and not dominate. I like that image. Perhaps if we all can hold this image in our head for five seconds each day, one day our will turn to reality?