In this quick lead-up to the presidential election, we notably find ourselves in the midst of a Mars retrograde transit, which began on September 9 and ends November 13. Mars is the ruler of masculine energy (which we all have, regardless of gender identity), and it typically urges forward, with fast momentum. So in retrograde, the impetus is put on pausing and recharging. Mars is also notably traveling retrograde in the fire sign of Aries, a “masculine” sign, according to traditional and classic astrology. So given this masculine energy and backward-traveling nature of retrograde cycles, it’s key to explore the dangers toxic masculinity poses in the election. This is especially important considering what happened the last time Mars was retrograde in Aries around a presidential election, 31 years ago.
Mars retrograde in Aries could motivate voters to initiate more conversations about the social scripts of toxic masculinity, or the suppression of emotions to appear hard or tough, because it has has no place in the White House. This may involve having uncomfortable, necessary conversations with people who were indoctrinated to believe that true leadership is based on invincibility and grandiosity.
Interestingly, the last time Mars turned retrograde in Aries was during the 1988 presidential election cycle between Republican incumbent George H.W. Bush and Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis, and toxic masculinity certainly played a role. The race produced what’s come to be known as the “worst campaign photo op ever.” The Bush campaign had labeled Dukakis as “an elitist Massachusetts liberal” (which has meanings antithetical to toxic masculinity, like soft on crime and anti-war), so Dukakis visited defense contractor General Dynamics for a photo op in a military tank to strengthen his credibility as future commander-in-chief. It backfired not only because of Mars retrograde in Aries, but because the culture at the time wouldn’t allow a version of masculinity where a Democratic, Massachusetts governor could also lead the military of the United States.
Though this transpired 31 years ago, it’s still fresh in political culture. When visiting an Ohio army tank plant in 2019, President Donald Trump recalled, “…[Dukakis] tanked when he got into the tank…how would I look in a tank, okay?” He received applause because he fits the script of toxic masculinity since he doesn’t want to be perceived as weak and is pro-force, tough on crime, etc. History clearly supports that such leadership is revered on some level and also perceived as normal in someone assuming the role of president—and that’s a problem.
Author of For The Love of Men: From Toxic to a More Mindful Masculinity and journalist Liz Plank wrote about Trump’s display of toxic masculinity after contracting COVID-19, highlighting, that he was focused on being strong, showing his strength, and winning, rather than acknowledging the existential threat it poses to himself and others. “When men (and women) pretend like they’re not sick and don’t take precautions, it’s not strong. It’s quite literally dangerous,” she wrote. That is, rather than copping to the severity of the disease, it’s been the Trump administration’s priority to downplay that reality throughout the pandemic, because anything else would be to perceived as weak. And that priority is not a responsible one by which to lead.
Based on the past instance of Mars retrograde in Aries, it’s clear that toxic masculinity in the election is a conversation that needs to be had.
As an astrologer, it’s not my prerogative to predict future outcomes. What I feel the most ethically concerned with is helping others have productive conversations in the present so we can live in a future that’s intentional and to our own design. And based on the past instance of Mars retrograde in Aries, it’s clear that toxic masculinity in the election is a conversation that needs to be had.
Psychotherapist Esther Perel has said “the lives of women will not change until the men come along. The lives of women will not change until the men get the opportunity to also examine and define and change their lives.” With that in mind, these are the questions I’m inviting and offering voters to hold in their heart and conscious before November 3rd:
- How does the patriarchy and toxic masculinity limit my vision of leadership?
- How can and do I help men share their vulnerability without being perceived as weak?
- How do I give others the opportunity to be whole in my presence so that toxic ideologies don’t hold anyone hostage?
And after November 3rd, I want to lean on the learning of Mars Retrograde in Aries to ensure that I’m doing everything I can within my cisgendered male privileges in service to the power, presence, and voice for trans, gender nonconforming, and cis women. And I want to do that while also being a comforting agent for masculine-identifying folks to share their vulnerabilities and hearts, too. I can’t guarantee politicians who follow the script toxic masculinity won’t burst onto the scene, but as a community, we can rest on a conscience where we don’t hear or listen to their commands. May peace prevail.
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