Josh Hawley Starts Debate on Manhood

Senator says liberals are turning young men into pathetic creatures hooked on porn, video games
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2021 11:47 AM CDT
Josh Hawley: Liberals Are Ruining Men
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to examine Texas' abortion law on Sept. 29, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (Tom Williams/Pool via AP)

Conservative Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri opened a fresh battle in the culture wars with a defense of masculinity, arguing that the left is turning young men into wimpy creatures addicted to porn and video games. That, in turn, triggered a backlash against the 41-year-old. Coverage:

  • The speech: Hawley addressed the National Conservatism Conference over the weekend and addressed the "future of the American man." You can read it in full via the Federalist. He complained that liberals "want to define traditional masculinity as toxic. They want to define the traditional masculine virtues—things like courage and independence and assertiveness—as a danger to society."
  • Big line: "Can we be surprised that after years of being told they are the problem, that their manhood is the problem, more and more men are withdrawing into the enclave of idleness and pornography and video games?" asked Hawley, who's expected to vie for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024. (The Trump supporter famously raised a supportive fist to protesters in DC on Jan. 6.)

  • Context: The Washington Post notes that the concept of "toxic masculinity" has indeed been gaining traction in recent years, with the American Psychological Association even putting out its first-ever guidelines in 2018 on the topic. Putting pressure on men and boys to conform to "traditional masculinity ideology" can result in higher rates of suicide and substance abuse, the group warned. It links the ideology to standards including "anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure, risk, and violence." The APA guidelines were roundly ridiculed on the right.
  • Criticism: Hawley is taking all kinds of flak from critics after his speech, with many pointing out that the Ivy League grad is hardly a he-man himself. "If Josh Hawley is an expert on masculinity then I'd like to take a few minutes to share my thoughts on quantum physics," reads one typical tweet. Others joked that he may be projecting a wee bit about himself with his definition of what a real man should be.
  • Counterpoint: At the Independent, Noah Berlatsky disagrees with Hawley's take on masculinity, but he also sees a lot of hypocrisy in the criticism. Calling Hawley a wimp plays into the very stereotypes that these critics typically rail against. "Whether Hawley is a bad masculine manly man by his own standards is irrelevant," he writes. "What is relevant is that those standards themselves are malignant and dangerous. Don't let Hawley trick you into using them."
(Read more Josh Hawley stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.