America on the Rag
There are sexist, bullying men. Look around.
From the highest level of American academia to the basest level of American politics, it seems that certain high-placed men simply cannot fight the urge to regurgitate tired, unsubstantiated, and demeaning put-downs about American women. It was an unfounded put-down about the mathematical skills of women that cost Lawrence Summers the presidency of Harvard University. It will also likely be a hideous put-down about female menstruation that will contribute to Donald Trump’s failure to win the American presidency. During and after that first Republican debate, if there was anyone displaying the emotional and volatile behavior that is negatively associated with being “on the rag” it was Donald Trump, and Donald Trump alone.
When will this infantile, small-minded minority of American males finally grow up? When will the majority of men finally prevail in stamping out sophomoric stereotypes about women? And, when will American men finally move beyond the absurdly unimaginative and harmful sexual put-down culture that men inflict upon each other as well?
America on the Rag uses the bizarre realities of Donald Trump’s bullying presidential campaign to explore important questions about just what is really at play in the relationships between men and women in America. It also explores the bullying aspects of male-to-male culture in America as well.
In that first Republican debate, Fox TV’s Megyn Kelly asked Mr. Trump about his characterization of women as “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.” Mr. Trump memorably lashed out at Ms. Kelly saying, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.” This was quickly derided as a tasteless reference to negative put-downs about menstruation that certain sexist men hurl at women. Even the ultra-conservative head of Fox News, Roger Ailes asserted that, “Trump’s surprise and unprovoked attack on Megyn Kelly during her show last night is as unacceptable as it is disturbing. Donald Trump rarely apologizes, although in this case, he should.”
While researching this sexist slur by Mr. Trump, it was surprising to see quick reference on the internet to an apparent quote attributed to Mr. Trump’s second wife about Mr. Trump’s “swordsmanship in bed.” This is fascinating information. It raises the age-old gender questions: What do women really want? What do men really want? Is it even helpful to engage in such crude generalizations? And, for those questioning Mr. Trump’s motives as a presidential candidate, it raises a new question: What does Mr. Trump really want? Does he really want to lead his apparently very frustrated American followers into a better future? Or, is Mr. Trump’s divisive demagoguery really just a new way to brandish his sword for his own personal pleasure and gain?
The analogous question regarding the male domination of academia is: Was Mr. Summers’ put-down about women’s math skills simply a way to protect the men’s academic castle from a possibly much feared horde of American academic women? Ironically, several recent studies indicate that young women are now beginning to outpace young men in math and science. So, if the Summers put-down was unfounded, then what is really going on here? Furthermore, in Mr. Summers’ field of economics and finance, many observers openly question the validity of the hyper-mathematization and absurd complexity that grips the global financial system. And yet Mr. Summers apparently still applauds the super-complexity of financial markets, especially as it relates to complicated financial derivatives. Warren Buffet once described derivatives as “weapons of financial mass destruction.” So, regardless of whether women can handle the intense math that many male economists openly worship, is it even a good thing that Harvard’s iconic Economics Faculty is math-obsessed and over 90% male?
Male bullying leaves scars that affect us all. When men verbally, intellectually, or physically bully women it leaves emotional and physical scars that can last a lifetime. This results in great personal tragedy for bullied women. It also creates a great social tragedy for America and limits America’s ability to reach its fullest potential as a country. A shocking recent statistic is that over 25% of American women undergraduates report having been raped or seriously molested by men during their undergraduate years.
When men verbally or physically bully other men it also leaves emotional and physical scars that can last a lifetime. And the sexual bullying of men harms American men’s ability to connect with other men and with women in the richest and most invigorating ways. Male-on-male bullying greatly limits the creative potential that men imagine for themselves as well.
America on the Rag is primarily a creative exploration of the political divisions that face and frustrate the American people as they prepare to endure another presidential election cycle. The art show imagines that there exists a Scrotal Majority of American men who truly want to see American women thrive. t.Rutt imagines that this Scrotal Majority within the male population is as repulsed by Donald Trump’s sexist, xenophobic, bullying tone as those women, immigrants, and men who are directly targeted by Mr. Trump’s bilious tone.
t.Rutt is dedicated to using art to shift public perception about the “social sciences” of economics and politics. The artist’s 2013 show and book, Infinity is the Enemy, explored problems created by the use of physics in the social science of economics and financial theory. Certain parts of America on the Rag such as its “political platform” reference insights from Infinity is the Enemy and highlight t.Rutt’s determination to use art as a way to confront failures in the social sciences.