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Hawley’s masculinity claims mask the real issues

Nov 22, 2021


Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) is garnering attention by talking about masculinity. During an address to the National Conservatism Conference, Hawley declared that the left is attacking manhood and, as a result, more and more men are sitting idle. If you’re scratching your head and asking, “What,” you are not alone. Hawley’s commentary is outlandish and, quite frankly, misses the point he’s trying to make. The real issue here is that his party is standing in the way of the policies we need to create opportunity and keep our economy humming.

We’ve talked many times before about this sort of caricature of the alpha male and the beta male so-called, that Republicans seem fixated on, the image of masculinity that they believe is the appropriate one, the American one, the patriotic one. We’ve also seen the right use the feminization of certain men sometimes with homophobic undertones, and sometimes with misogynistic undertones, to attack men on the left.  

Remember going back to the 2004 presidential election, John Kerry was framed as a feminized man by the right, because he spoke French because he, what was it? He did wind surfing or whatever the case it was. 

So this is a very long trope and,Senator Josh Hawley now see, by the way, one of the insiders of the January six, Trump riots, Josh Hawley now over the last week or so has been making headlines all starting with an interview that he did for Axios about this issue, taking up the issue of masculinity as he sees it. 

So let’s take a look at a couple of clips here, starting indeed with that Axios interview, where this first became a topic, take a listen to this:

Axios Reporter: Senator. You gave a pretty hot speech at the national conservatism conference in Orlando. You talked about the left’s attack on men of America. Why masculinity as your new big issue?

 Hawley: Well, I think what the left is doing is attacking America. They’re saying that America is systemically oppressive and men are systemically responsible. 

Axios Reporter: What’s a man to you?  Paint a picture:

 Hawley: Well, a man as a father, a man, as a husband, a man, as somebody who takes responsibility. As conservatives, we’ve got a call mid back to responsibility. We’ve got to say that spending your time.

When we talk about conserving and what the idea, what is it they’re trying to conserve this delivery from Josh Hawley, this dialogue, this language is exactly the sort of vague caricature of the 1950s interpretation of masculinity. That is what they want to go back to. Okay, let’s continue.

Hawley: And we have more and more men who are not working, spending your time on video games, spending your time watching porn online while doing nothing is not good for you, your family, or this country. So…

Axios Reporter: A viewer’s watching this and they’re thinking really what the liberals are doing are going to push me to watch porn hub more or play Donkey Kong more. Do you mean that literally?

Hawley: Well, what I mean literally is that I think the liberal attack, the left wing attack on manhood says to men, you’re part of the problem. It says that your masculinity is inherently problematic. It’s inherently oppressive.

Axios Reporter: What’s your basis for linking that to what liberals or the left is, you would say do, is that based on data or based on a hunch?

Hawley: Well it’s policy over many years. I mean, if you look at the policy of de-industrialization, those are policy choices, Mike, pursued over many years. Oh, well, if you’ve got, you’ve got men, 16 million men, Mike, who are idle, who don’t have anything to do. Now… 

If you’re a confused as to the links he’s making, your right to be confused because they make absolutely no sense.

Hawley: That’s their own responsibility. But also partly is because jobs have dried up in many cities across America.

And why is that? Right? Like he, he actually get, before we get to the next clip, he gets to a grain of something that’s important. If people are idle and men are idle in the way he’s saying, they’re not in the workforce, they’re playing video games, they’re watching porn, whatever the case may be. And then he’s saying, well, jobs have dried up. Now we’re onto something. Now we’re onto something. 

That’s approximating policy rather than hyperbole. Why does his party reject initiative after initiative to create jobs for these men to do? 

Now, of course, once you do this and you get attention, then you’re invited on Tucker Carlson and you can do the whole tour, and so here’s a little bit of Tucker Carlson talking to Josh Hawley about the same issue.

Hawley: These men are in crisis, Tucker, as you pointed out, I mean, listen, we’ve got at least 16 million men in this country who are out of the labor force. They’re not just unemployed. They’re not even trying to work. And I’m talking about able-bodied men, prime-aged men. We have an epidemic of…

Okay, now he might be talking about some able-bodied prime age men. But when you look at individuals outside of the labor force, as I’ve said before, it includes retired people. It also includes high school juniors and seniors, in most cases, who aren’t working. And it also includes people who are in college full-time many of them are men, about half.  And so even just the statistics he’s citing are deceptive, as always.

Hawley: They’re listening to this country. And what’s the left saying that America is a systemically oppressive place and that men are to blame. And that masculinity is to blame. You know, if you want to be a man, if you are assertive, if, if you’re independent, if you display those characteristics that psychologists have associated with men for decades, then you’re contributing to the oppressive place that is America.

Yeah. So listen, the truth here is of course that for the most part, the reason that people are idle is not because of porn and it’s not because of video games.

Economic reasons, educational reasons, job, market reasons, class reasons, are the reasons why people end up idle, and sometimes health reasons as well.

So if you really want to deal with that, we’ve got to deal with the economy. We’ve got to deal with education and we’ve got to deal with access to healthcare.

This is yet another one of these attempts by these right-wingers who maybe they understand and are lying, or maybe they just don’t understand how the world works.

Choosing to say that the problem is a cultural issue that we can solve easily by eliminating left-wing culture, because they have no policy ideas or at least none that they want to put forward. 

So it’s much easier to say the problem is just the culture and the stories being told about men when the reality is that it’s about economics, healthcare, and education, not a surprise that Josh Hawley, whose role on January 6th was so vile, is saying exactly this type of thing.

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