The “former conservative” Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin declared in an October column that the “masculinity crisis” regularly bemoaned by Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley is “actually inside the GOP.” Rubin said, “Far from displaying the masculine virtues they imagine are endangered, Republicans have become the party of fearful men afraid to stand on principle.” She went on to cite David French, the senior editor of The Dispatch, and Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney as exemplars of real conservative courage for their willingness to stand up to toxic masculinity within the GOP.
Putting aside the risible claim that people like French and Cheney represent the faithful remnant of true conservatism, Rubin’s op-ed, like so many commentaries offered by leftists, fails on multiple fronts. It fails because it does not understand the severity of the crisis facing males in 2022. It fails because what it offers as solutions to the very real masculinity crisis represents what only insulated bureaucratic elites are capable of conjuring up to address the problems of everyday people. And ultimately, it fails on anthropological grounds because it does not understand men’s biological, psychological, sociological, and teleological character.
Our Masculinity Crisis
Although liberals seem to view masculine suffering as more of a joke, if not justified, retribution for having to live under “the patriarchy,” America is witnessing unprecedented problems for its men. As Hawley said in a speech last year, “American men are working less, they are getting married in fewer numbers, they’re fathering fewer children, they’re suffering more anxiety and depression, they’re engaging in more substance abuse.” The percentage of men pursuing degrees in higher education is precipitously declining. According to a study released by the Brookings Institution earlier this year, only 41 percent of students currently enrolled in college are men. That decrease, which has been going on for years, seems likely to continue. The percentage of men graduating from college is also declining.
This problem goes far beyond education. Lifetime earnings for men are also declining, a trend that has been going on for more than a decade. As of last year, men’s life expectancy had dropped by two years. Their testosterone levels have been faltering for decades. Almost a third of men are overweight, which puts them at risk for several health complications.
Male suffering unsurprisingly contributes to the overall suffering of America writ large. Significant percentages of the American population grow up in fatherless homes, putting children at increased risk of poverty, behavioral problems, health issues, and truancy. Children who grow up without a father are more likely to suffer abuse and neglect, commit crimes, wind up in prison, or become pregnant as a teenager. In other words, America’s male crisis is a societal crisis.
These problems are not unknown to liberal elites. Yet their solutions, rather than reflecting an appreciation for the threat the masculinity crisis presents, or even demonstrating empathy, more often prioritize partisan point-scoring while invoking condescension and indifference. That is undoubtedly Jennifer Rubin’s perspective: Rather than addressing Hawley’s concerns, she devotes the entirety of her op-ed to simply bashing Republicans. Nor is she alone — The New York Times, CNN, and Rolling Stone, among others, have all labeled the conservative alarm over the masculinity crisis as “hilariously empty” and “pathetic.”
The language of the left is dripping with radical feminist ideology, as scholar Scott Yenor’s work has so extensively documented. Our entertainment, fashion, and media industries are all investing their capital in dismantling the alleged threat of “the patriarchy.” Pundits, health professionals, and even commercials denounce “toxic masculinity.” Heck, those who helm our education, entertainment, and media institutions even encourage young men to abandon masculinity in favor of femininity, which boys are doing in unprecedentedly large numbers.
The left’s response to the masculinity crisis is one of contempt and derision. If men are suffering, it’s their own fault. “Aren’t men still disproportionately represented in C-Suites?” they rhetorically ask, forgetting that the vast majority of American men are not executives at million-dollar firms. Because our technocratic elites are insulated by their own wealthy, credentialed circles, they are ignorant and callous towards the dilemmas of millions of men, as evidenced by their sneering attacks on male defenders like Jordan Peterson.
A Failure to Know Men
The Washington Post’s print edition recently featured an extended story about a single mother raising her son in Wyoming’s “cowboy country” that had been featured on their website last month. It is, admittedly, a very sad tale of betrayal, domestic abuse, sexual exploitation, and social exclusion. “Men just take and take and take and take. That’s what they are taught,” the jaded woman tells the WaPo reporter.
This is where the left feels most comfortable: identifying and foregrounding stories that blame men for what ails society. There is, of course, truth here: There are plenty of losers and dirtbags out there who mistreat and exploit women. Feminist-influenced liberal elites have decided that men mistreat women because of their biology and traditional societal norms embolden this behavior. Men don’t need to reclaim chivalry and honor; they simply need to be more like women (though, ironically, these ideologues also claim women need to be more like men).
What is lacking in all of this are the ancient verities about men. That men biologically — influenced tendency toward violence and aggression — need proper, male-only outlets, like manual labor or sports. They require places to develop deep social bonds with other men to form and inculcate empathy toward others — “iron sharpens iron,” as Proverbs 27:17 declares. Men require opportunities to develop the cardinal virtues of courage, prudence, temperance, and justice, and ultimately, men require their thoughts and affections to be directed toward the transcendent, giving their lives internal coherence, reasons to curb their vices, and an eternal outlook that gives meaning to the many thankless tasks they will perform.
Man’s very sexual and physiological makeup is obviously oriented toward the creation and protection of new life — any fool who has completed an introductory biology course can tell you that. The left’s blinkered, narcissistic, and cynically punitive outlook on life has clouded their ability to know that ancient truth. What American men require is not ridicule but restoration.