Tough guys and little rocket men: @RealDonaldTrump's Twitter feed and the normalisation of banal masculinity

Angela Smith, Michael Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


This article looks at discourses of masculinity in the social media performance of US President Donald Trump. The article discusses the implications of these for the normalisation of regressive forms of masculinity in public discourse, where normalisation is the process of co-opting otherwise deviant behaviours by integrating them into institutional practice. The article begins by exploring ways in which Trump’s social media performance exhibits the characteristics of "hypermasculinity". The analysis then turns to the everyday expression of traditionally macho masculinity by Trump by conducting a search for tokens of the masculine-gendered nouns "man" and "guy", and using critical discourse analysis to reveal the use of these in exercising gendered forms of judgement. Of particular importance is the informal "guy", through which Trump defines challengers within power-based masculine oppositions. Overall, we find that while the concept of hypermasculinity is useful in describing provocative displays of "bad behaviour" oriented-towards a populist style of leadership, but that Trump routinely produces more banal types of masculine performance that objectify allies and opponents within a gendered hierarchy, and may be said to normalise regressive forms of masculinity within the prevailing political culture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-562
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Semiotics
Issue number4
Early online date26 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2020


  • presidential communication
  • politics and gender
  • hypermasculinity


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