“All is not well with men in this country,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) wrote in an op-ed for Fox News on Tuesday. Had he simply left it at that, I’d give him a high five and shout “Amen, brother.” But alas, he carried on in a vague and overblown piece on how to fix the masculinity crisis facing our nation’s men and boys. In short (spoiler alert): by reading the Bible.
I’d caution anyone against taking advice about masculinity from the man who broke the Congressional 500-meter sprint record running away from the insurrection he personally fomented in the Capitol building. But working backwards through his piece, the mob-fleeing dweeb and self-appointed manhood expert appears to be making the point that if men can “bring the promise of eternity everywhere they go and use their power to preserve truth and liberty” (truly, what does this mean?), they can start harnessing their dude power and become present fathers, which will “change the destiny of their families and whole neighborhoods.” This may be true, but only in the sense that a few dads in my neighborhood growing up had high powered leaf-blowers that literally changed how our community looked.
“Beginning with Adam in the Garden of Eden, the Bible says men are tasked with bringing order to the world, transforming chaos into beauty—the wilderness into a garden,” he writes. Well, the wilderness-to-garden pipeline can also be supported by the leaf-blowing dads of my childhood, but for the most part, I’m not witnessing a lot of men transform chaos into beauty. And I don’t think that reading the Bible is going to help any dudes with that undertaking, either. Their best bet for transforming chaos into beauty is a strong retinol cream.
Hawley’s piece is, through and through, pretty inane. He says the left blames men for “for everything from climate change to ‘the patriarchy.’” First of all, I’ve spent a fair amount of my life on the left side of things and have yet to hear the argument that only half our population are the reason the ice-caps are melting. But Hawley scoffing at the idea that men aren’t responsible for “the patriarchy”—although it’s a system of oppression in which women certainly participate—is like discrediting water’s role in the persistence of the oceans.
Perhaps harping on “traditional manhood,” as he does, is just a backdoor way of laying down foundational arguments against trans and LGBTQ protections. In February, Hawley personally launched an investigation into a Missouri transgender youth clinic, and just last week, lawmakers in his state voted through a total ban on gender affirming care for trans youth. But as disingenuous and craven as Hawley is, the senator is also right (don’t take this out of context, I swear to god I’ll hunt you down, reader) that there is a masculinity crisis in our country. He’s correct in citing a loneliness epidemic amongst men and the fact that rates of opioid addiction for all American’s are alarmingly high. Young men increasingly turn to violence, and gun violence in particular is a “gendered phenomena,” Hayley Lawrence writes Journal of Gender, Race & Justice.
Studying the Bible and being the head of the household isn’t going to solve that systemic issue, though. Neither will demonizing gender nonconforming youth. Perhaps the actual masculinity crisis is caused by men like Josh Hawley, who emotionally abuse and alienate other men that don’t adhere to harmful, outdated norms about how men should behave?