Josh Hawley gives a rat-faced smile

Josh Hawley Blames Feminism for Driving Men to “Idleness, Pornography, & Video Games”

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Missouri’s most pro-insurrection senator Josh Hawley delivered the keynote speech at this weekend’s National Conservatism Conference. His speech was dedicated to what he sees as “the left’s attack on men in America.” Based on a clip of his speech that’s been making the rounds on Twitter, it was exactly as inane as you’d expect.

In the clip, Hawley blames feminism for driving men “into the enclave of idleness, and pornography, and video games.”

“After years of being told they are the problem, that their manhood is the problem,” why would men not turn to these things, Hawley asks. Well, I don’t know but maybe the party that’s built itself around ideas of “personal accountability” could start by growing a little backbone and stop blaming women’s fight for equality and basic respect for men’s interest in porn and video games.

That clip has gotten a lot of attention for being completely ridiculous. But after having found a copy of the speech in its entirety, it’s not even the worst or weirdest thing he said at this event.

Without subjecting you to too much of Hawley’s baffling pomposity (you can read the speech in full here if you so choose for some reason), it’s full of bad faith arguments, strawman fallacies, and a complete dearth of actual logic and reason.

To prove that “the left” (an undefined but apparently all-encompassing, uniformly man-hating entity) is trying to destroy masculinity and therefore America itself, Hawley takes issue with the idea that systemic oppression in any form exists. He whinges about how “the left’s” insistence that toxic masculinity is a thing that exists, men are getting married less and at older ages, and that they’re being driven from higher education and even the military.

(He specifically cites a workshop about toxic masculinity upsetting young men at West Point Academy, but given the prevalence of sexual assault at said academy, it’s hard to really care that a few men were a bit miffed.)

Hawley touches on numerous disparate issues including vaccine mandates, over-medicating children, and outsourcing labor to foreign countries, shoving all of these things and more under the umbrella of a leftist war on men.

He dips into anti-trans rhetoric, citing trans inclusion in women’s sports and gender-neutral language in conversations about reproductive health. As Hawley sees it, the left’s “assault on womanhood” is part of the larger war on gender—but really, on men. (Also, if anyone’s waging a war on women—and they are—it’s the Josh Hawleys of the world.)

Not one single sentence in Hawley’s speech comes from a place of good faith. Just one example: To illustrate how unreasonable “the left” is regarding gender, he cites a 2018 op-ed from Professor Suzanna Walters of Northeastern University in which Walters argues that it “seems logical to hate men” because of all the harm they’ve caused women.

Hawley holds this up as an example of liberal culture run amok without acknowledging that the university immediately put out a statement that Walters’ views don’t represent the institution, but that “Northeastern is committed to fostering an environment in which controversial ideas can be discussed, debated and challenged.”

So not only is this clearly just one woman’s opinion and not that of any larger group or institution, but aren’t people like Hawley and other conservatives constantly complaining about controversial ideas being silenced? The hypocrisy is astounding.

Hawley’s entire speech is comprised of fearmongering talking points that are rooted in nothing but an assumption that those listening will regurgitate those points without doing any critical thinking about whether or not they’re true.

“The Left want to define traditional masculinity as toxic,” Hawley claims. “They want to define the traditional masculine virtues—things like courage, and independence, and assertiveness—as a danger to society.”

That’s simply ridiculous. And Hawley likely knows it’s ridiculous, but he’s also managed to be successful in building a career and a reputation on this sort of fact-free scaremongering partisan war nonsense, so he will continue to act a clown for as long as he can.

(image: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.