Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) is not backing down amid fierce backlash from legacy media, after he blasted the “left-wing attack on manhood” and urged men to embrace and assume the responsibilities of their gender role in a series of recent remarks.
In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, Hawley rebuked his critics, saying their attacks are an attempt to avoid responsibility for their cultural “broadside against America.”
“I just think the left does not want to own up to the fact that their broadside against America also involves an attack on American men and American women,” he told Breitbart News.
“The left has become so, so bent on portraying the society as fundamentally oppressive, as fundamentally broken —they now say that if you believe in the reality of gender, that you are part of that problem.”
Hawley first made waves during a keynote address at the National Conservatism Conference in Orlando late-last month, where he highlighted the trend of American men “withdrawing into the enclave of idleness” as a result of their cultural institutions impressing upon them that “manhood is the problem.”
In an interview with Axios this week, Hawley said conservatives must “call men back to responsibility,” amid the cultural left’s claim that “America is systemically oppressive, and men are systemically responsible.”
Asked to define “a man,” Hawley said, “a man is a father, a man is a husband, a man is somebody who takes responsibility.”
“We’ve got to say that spending your time 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,” he told Axios’ Mike Allen.
Hawley’s claims fall in line with studies published on these topics. The National Institutes of Health released a study in May, 2019, which states, “According to statistics shared by Pornhub, a major online website with explicit content, the group of pornography consumers is steadily increasing and it is mostly represented by men (over 70% of all users) and young adults, below 34 years old.”
Further, in 2014, a report by Germany’s Institute for the Study of Labor found that pornography consumption is negatively correlated to marriage rates.
“Traditionally, one of the reasons to enter into a marriage was sexual gratification. But as options for sexual gratification outside of marriage have grown, the need for a marriage to serve this function is diminishing,” the report said.
A 2017 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that a decline in working hours among young men is directly linked to video game use.
A report by the New York Times on the study says, “since 2004, video games have been responsible for reducing the amount of work that young men do by 15 to 30 hours over the course of a year.”
“Between 2004 and 2015, young men’s leisure time grew by 2.3 hours a week. A majority of that increase — 60 percent — was spent playing video games, according to government time use surveys,” the Times wrote.
Following the publication of Hawley’s Axios interview, outlets across the media landscape published a torrent of criticism of his claims.
The Guardian’s Arwa Mahdawi, in her “The Week in Patriarchy” series, claimed her “little woman brain assumed” that men were consuming more porn and playing more video games merely as a result of increased access to high-speed Internet. She conceded that men are in crisis but argued that men who embrace traditional masculinity “are worse off than men who don’t,” adding that those who conform to traditional gender roles are less likely to seek psychological services.
Asked by Breitbart News to respond to that claim, Hawley pointed to the American Psychological Association adopting the “left-wing consensus” on masculinity as the reason men are less inclined to engage with its services.
“To be a man, and to display the kind of character traits that psychologists and philosophers and other observers have for thousands of years noticed in men — things like assertiveness, independence — that those are inherently problematic … and that’s certainly the position, the American Psychological Association now takes that position, I think, reflecting kind of the left-wing consensus. And my argument in the [Orlando] speech is that that’s just kind of crazy, and it’s ultimately destructive,” Hawley said.
“When you tell men that to be assertive, and to be independent, to exercise the kind of qualities that again, have been widely observed in men for millennia, that that is inherently problematic, that that creates injustices in society in and of itself, I think it’s paralyzing to young men. I mean, it leaves them with a profound crisis of action, a profound crisis of identity and I think that’s one of the reasons why you see them withdrawing from those spaces where they get those messages.”
The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman highlighted Hawley’s claim that the left is undermining fatherhood in his recent column — arguing that it is actually the Democratic Party encouraging men to assume more of a presence in family life.
“One of Hawley’s key recommendations is this: ‘There is no higher calling, and no greater duty, than raising a family. And we should encourage all men to pursue it.’ To which liberals would respond, ‘Sure, and let’s make this easier, with generous family leave and adequate child care,’” Waldman wrote.
When presented with that argument, Hawley conceded that members of both parties bear responsibility for creating an economic environment that negatively impacts parental involvement in family life.
“We need to own up to the fact that generations of leaders — and this hasn’t really been the left or the right, I mean, the left has hailed it but the Republicans … have gone along with the deindustrialization of our society. We’ve sent away good jobs, working-class jobs, many of which were particularly for men. Men who don’t want to go to college and get a bachelor’s degree,” Hawley said.
“And it’s pretty tough in this country right now if you don’t want to go to college and get a bachelor’s degree, it’s pretty tough to find a good-paying job on which you can support a family. And I think we’ve got to own up to the social consequences [of deindustrialization].”
However, the Missouri senator added that he thinks the Republican Party is the one to refocus efforts on bringing back manufacturing to America — creating jobs that can support a family on a single income — and to incentivize marriage and family formation through tax incentives, as opposed to through government benefits.
“We need to make it a goal, a central goal of our policy, to say we need to bring back good-paying jobs, manufacturing jobs, industrial sector jobs to this country for men, and for women too for that matter… Make it possible for folks who don’t have a college degree to get a job, hold a job and be able to support a family on it,” he began.
“Number two, we need to promote marriage … I think there should be no marriage penalties in the tax code — currently the tax code is littered with them … And I think we need to have a marriage bonus. I would just say that we ought to say to people who get married, ‘not only are we not going to penalize you, we’re actually going to give you a tax break.’”
“Thirdly, I’ve proposed a very generous tax cut in the form of a provisional tax credit for working parents. And I just think that that’s the key … So I think we want to say to parents, ‘yeah, we want you to have kids, that’s awesome. We don’t want you to be shut out of having kids because it’s too expensive, because you can’t afford school or childcare, but let’s let the families make the decisions about how they’re going to care for their kids.’ And I think the best way to do that is give working parents a generous tax cut in the form of a generous tax credit for each kid they have to help with those expenses,” Hawley told Breitbart News.
“We ought to purposefully try and help parents who are having children to shoulder the costs for those children.”
Hawley reiterated his point that men are falling into unproductive lifestyles at higher rates when they don’t engage with the responsibilities of manhood — dismissing critics and insisting that there needs to be a conversation around the phenomenon.
“You see [men] shifting into neutral. And I think that’s bad. I mean, men not taking responsibility for the children that they father is bad, men dropping out of the workforce is bad, men not supporting the women that they say they love is bad. And this gets us to the point about you know, what do they do? If they’re not working, the data say that men who aren’t working or looking for work, what do they do with their spare time? They spend it on ‘leisure activities.’ They don’t volunteer more, they don’t help with kids, they don’t go serve in their church or synagogue. No, they sit around, and we see this mass spike in pornography use over the last 20 years, 30 years, we see increases in crime, obviously,” he said.
“There’s all different kinds of pathologies that go along with men withdrawing, men not sort of picking up and being active and being responsible, and I think the conversation about that.”
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