Why Trump Is Terrified of Greta Thunberg
On September 23rd Donald Trump responded to a Wired tweet quoting Greta Thunberg passionately telling the UN “People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the middle of mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth” with a sarcastic, “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”
To Trump, the important part of this tweet wasn’t the probable future Nobel Prize winner warning bleakly and passionately of a looming ecological apocalypse in a desperate attempt to save us from ourselves, to prevent the destruction of our planet as we know it.
No, what mattered to Trump, and what mattered deeply, was that a teenaged girl was not behaving the way that he very strongly feels that teenage girls should behave. She was not behaving like a contestant on The Apprentice, batting her eyes coquettishly at him in a bid to win his favor. Nor was the fiery teen activist behaving like a contestant in the Miss USA or Teen USA pageants, both of which Trump used to own, smiling broadly while modeling a bikini or speaking earnestly about her desire to work with special education children after she graduates from college.
Age aside, Greta was most assuredly not the kind of very young lady Jeffrey Epstein would trot out for Trump to “party” with during their many years of what appears to be a sexual competition-based friendship.
Greta was not trying to impress Trump. She was not interested in flattering his ego or sense of self. She was not kissing the ring of power. Consequently Trump has absolutely no idea what to do with her so he lashes out petulantly with the glib sarcasm of toxic, arrogant men confronted with women who want nothing to do with them.
It’s the ugly sarcasm of the dude at the bar who gets politely but firmly rejected by a woman and lashes out with a bratty, “Geez, YOU seem like a real ray of sunshine. I’m sure your charming personality will work out for you” rather than concede that it hurts when people reject you.
In Trump’s mind the role of women in society and in his life is to compete feverishly for his favor. That’s partially because he’s a crazed misogynist and poster boy for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. But it’s also because for many, many years Trump was paid an enormous amount of money, and became almost unfathomably famous hosting The Apprentice and then The Celebrity Apprentice, a show where attractive young women, some of them famous, competed feverishly for his favor.
Trump is a demonic monster of id and ego in no small part because we as a culture have enabled him, his sexism and his narcissism to a sickening degree.
The worst thing a woman can do in Trump’s world is behave in a non-lady-like fashion. He’s an inveterate believer in the wisdom and necessity of rigid gender roles and nothing is less becoming of a lady than challenging him.
This helps explain why Trump, a man famously taped bragging about grabbing women by the pussy, can express endless outrage at Democratic women using profanity. This also helps explain why one of Trump’s go-to insults for women is to call them “nasty.”
To challenge or criticize Trump when you’re a woman is to betray what Trump sees as the fundamentally soft, feminine, deferential nature of womanhood. Trump sees this not just as wrong, or unfair, but as a genuine violation of the social order, where aggression and hyper-competitiveness is lionized as the greatest good in men and the greatest conceivable evil in women. To want to win makes you a winner and a champion if you’re a man and nasty if you’re a woman.
Greta Thunberg violates everything Trump thinks a teen girls should be. She’s angry and passionate and intense and single-mindedly fixated on saving the world instead of molding herself to fit the model of what society thinks a teen girls should look and act like.
Trump has no idea how to handle Thunberg so he’s behaving like someone with the maturity and life experience of a 16 year old while Thunberg, in turn, is behaving like someone with the maturity and life experience, not to mention the moral authority and conviction, to be a goddamn world leader.
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