Freudian slips abound, online and in the news, but there are some slips that are much bigger than others. One such slip (really a blunder) is today’s Washington Post cover for its daily publication Express. In the center of the cover, a headline announces a women’s rights march that will be held the day after Trump’s inauguration. The headline is in a circle of the large male sex sign (the Mars symbol), which is made of human bodies and on a pink background.
The mistake was too obvious for most media networks to ignore. But perhaps it was nothing more than a millennial editing mishap. Maybe it was meant to be clever or maybe just a joke. No matter. What is clear is that the blunder has Freudian overtones which deserve mentioning. This colossal mishap by the Express speaks to at least five unconscious or repressed wishes that are contradictory. Although the Express has corrected the mistake and apologized, the blunder still requires examining.
- Women’s Wish for Male Power. Obviously, there is nothing like wanting what all men allegedly have – namely, the power and privilege men possess. Freud would have called this wish symptomatic of penis envy. The problem with wanting male power is that it comes with a cost. For responsible men, having any power at all means sacrificing their emotional life and taking on greater risks while following the orders of industry, military, or state. It also means being more likely than women to die on the job, commit suicide, and go to prison.
- Media’s Burning Wish for Hillary. By using the wrong sex sign, the newspaper also couldn’t help but reveal its still undying passion for a Hillary Clinton victory. The male sign suggests ironically the ascendancy of a female to the highest office and the cracking of the ultimate glass ceiling. The desire for Hillary in a traditionally male office is still alive.
- Media’s Fiendish Wish for Trump. Any desire can have its opposite in the unconscious. For this reason, we often double our repression. So just as the newspaper reveals a desire for Hillary, the media (in this case) also undermine the women’s rights movement by displaying over the pink background the Mars sign which can’t help but (again ironically) represent Trump’s victory.
- Media’s Wish for Male Hierarchy. If we extend the Trump representation further, it should become quickly clear that the newspaper’s blunder reveals its desire for a masculine social hierarchy, as the Mars symbol encircles the women’s rights message. What better yet stranger way to message a desire for a Masculine Age?
- Media’s Wish for Male Power. Finally, this desire may arise from the deepest region of the unconscious since it has had to be the most repressed and feared desire during the election. That is, most of the media either supported covertly or overtly Hillary. But in a twist of a blunder now the media has signaled (if only accidentally) that it must make amends with an obviously increasing masculine upper establishment.