There’s always an exception to the rule, and this one is mushroom shaped.
I’ll take a bet that the toadstool emoji has made few appearances in your WhatsApp chats in the last 24 hours; that your childhood memories of playing Super Mario brothers are forever tarnished; that your Twitter feed is full of funghi-related memes; that you’ve lost the taste for wild mushroom risotto for eternity…
Just in case anyone has managed to avoid the incredibly visual revelations (warning: if you had mushrooms for breakfast this morning you might want to brace yourself) made about Donald Trump yesterday, I’ll take the opportunity to fill you in. The Guardian has published an excerpt from porn actress Stormy Daniel’s forthcoming book, Full Disclosure. Drawing on her experiences of her alleged sexual encounters with the 45th President of the United States (Trump has denied the alleged affair although he has admitted to authorizing his personal lawyer to pay Daniels $130,000 for her silence), she paints a rather colourful picture of his penis. Some choice quotes to follow:
“He knows he has an unusual penis,” Daniels writes. “It has a huge mushroom head. Like a toadstool…
“I lay there, annoyed that I was getting f*cked by a guy with Yeti pubes and a dick like the mushroom character in Mario Kart… it may have been the least impressive sex I’d ever had, but clearly, he didn’t share that opinion.”
As you can imagine, the internet has gone wild and every news site – from tabloid to broadsheet – has the president’s penis high up on their news agenda.
Now, as a general rule I’m adamantly against body shaming. The idea that anyone should be judged because they don’t adhere to some image of perfection dictated by the media is wrong. I abhor gossip magazines who point out so-called ‘flaws’, I hate the language used around body shapes that aren’t deemed perfect (see: curvy, buxom, post pregnancy shape, man bod etc), and I absolutely include the physical shaming of men in this category too. And that extends to men’s penises, which have been showed through various studies to be a source of body anxiety for as many as 45% of men.
That said, every so often there has to be an exception to the rule. And when the owner of the penis in question has body shamed so many people he’s made it a sport, I’m afraid he becomes that exception. Donald Trump is a man who has spent a lifetime judging women by little other than their physical appearance; who openly categorises us by our ability to sexually tempt or repulse him. Who chooses to point out women’s appearance as though he’s still judging the Miss Universe competition. (He greeted France’s First Lady Brigitte Macron with the summary: “You’re in such good shape”.)
Let’s remind ourselves of some of his most vicious takedowns of women’s bodies, shall we?
About the then-pregnant Kim Kardashian in 2013: “She’s gotten a little bit large. I would say this, I don’t think you should dress like you weigh 120 pound.”
About Rosie O’Donnell: “Rosie’s a loser. I look forward to taking lots of money from my nice fat little Rosie.” He’s called Rosie “a slob” with a “fat, ugly face”
On Halle Berry in 2005: “I think she’s got from the mid-section ot the shoulders – she’s a 10. The face is a solid eight. And the legs are a little bit less than that.”
On actress Nicollette Sheridan: “A person who is very-flat-chested is very hard to be a 10.”
On Hillary Clinton’s bum: “And when she walked in front of me, believe me, I wasn’t impressed.”
And there are so many more.
There’s also a beautiful irony in the fact that a man who seems to get most of his power from his toxic masculinity – “When you’re a star then let you do it… grab them by the pussy… you can do anything”– actually has a masculinity that is shaped like an unusual mushroom (the internet is saying white button mushroom). That a man who uses his manhood as a tool to belittle and to intimidate, has had that manhood put under the Internet’s microscope. That a man who thinks he has the right to make decisions about what a woman does with her reproductive organs – ferociously attacking women’s reproductive rights and suggesting women should be punished for having an abortion – has the world commenting on his reproductive organ somehow feels just. Shaming his penis may be stooping to his level, it may be feeding his dangerous rhetoric that our body parts are more important than our successes or our acts of kindness. It may be. But sometimes, when someone goes as low as he does, the only place is to hit them is where it hurts.
Though forcing some sort of humility on Trump seems impossible at this stage (the children in cages didn’t do it), I can’t help but hope that this makes him think, if even for a minute, how it feels to be reduced to your body parts. How it feels to have that body part completely override your achievements. That it makes him feel small. Sadly, I very much doubt it. But wouldn’t it be great if a mushroom emoji was the thing to make him finally feel humble?
N.B. A quiet word to any men who are unhappy with their penis, who might too feel shamed if their penis fits into the mushroom category too. I say this: No one really cares about the shape of your penis as long as you’re not an abhorrent dictator who prays on the weak. Kind trumps mushroom every day of the week.