For Schlesinger, who would go on to work as an adviser to President John F. Kennedy, the answer was not to affirm some John Wayne macho attitude to counter the growing empowerment of women, but to create a sense of individual identity to fight back against the suffocating bureaucracy. and economic centralization of postwar America. In other words, lose the gray flannel suit and ethos of the “organization man” and develop instead a sense of the irreverent, the artistic, the moral, the political—this, according to Schlesinger, was the way for men, for people, to against uniformity. Part of the answer, according to Bly, was to recreate ancient rituals of male initiation and restore mentoring between young men and their elders, a relationship that instructs boys to channel, but not suppress, their instincts.
It’s easy to raise an eyebrow at Hawley’s book — a lengthy lecture on masculinity feels a bit like overcompensation when it comes from the man whose raised fist salute to pro-Trump protesters on Jan. 6 was followed by a senatorial sprint through the Capitol corridors to evade the rioters – but there’s a lot to take seriously in the pages. He calls for the subordination of the self to the needs of those we love. He advocates the dignity of all work, regardless of whether it is denigrated as a “dead end” job. He recognizes fatherhood as a daily reminder of the ways we are flawed. And he urges young men to take more responsibility for their own lives (“Dumping porn is a good place to start,” Hawley writes) as a step toward a glimpse of that missing vision of masculinity. To dismiss or mock such views simply because they come from Josh Hawley is to let partisan commitments override intellectual commitments.
Now, if Hawley had simply written a book about the very real struggles young men in America face, and added his favorite recommendations for how to live a more fulfilling life, “Manhood” could have been a worthy effort. Even more so, Hawley had gone on to explain why “no threat to this nation is greater than the collapse of American manhood” and how, without the restoration of manhood, “we will no longer be a self-governing nation because we will not have the character for it. ” For these warnings to be more than rhetorical feats, they deserve more scrutiny.
But Hawley does neither. Instead, he turns “masculinity” into a familiar attack on a godless, judgmental, pleasure-seeking left, which, he claims, seeks to subdue men and turn them into complacent, androgynous, dependent consumers. “Much of today’s left seems to welcome men who are passive and tame, who do as they are told and sit in their cubicles, eyes on their screens,” Hawley writes. The “woke religion” of the left claims to supplant the God of the Bible and demands that we “renounce masculinity, femininity, Christianity and other perceived markers of ‘social power’ and submit to the corrective tutelage of the liberal elite. “
According to Hawley, the left sees men as the source of its own problems. “In the centers of power they control, places like the press, academia and politics, they debt manhood for America’s misery,” the senator wrote. Hawley isn’t necessarily wrong when he complains about the mixed messages aimed at young men today – Your identity is yours to shape and claim, but why are you so toxic and oppressive? — but he doesn’t seem to notice the contradiction at the core of his book: Hawley spends chapter after chapter telling young men to stop blaming others for their problems, urging them to take personal responsibility. taking for their lives and failures… and then he goes on to give those same young men who blame someone for their fate.
What is it, Senator? Should American men pull together like their forefathers or hide in ideological silos like their political leaders? If you promote masculinity, why wallow in victimhood? This is a book that raises its fist and then takes cover.
While he doesn’t mention Reeves by name (except in his endnotes), Hawley addresses “experts safely ensconced in their think tanks” advocating for more men to enter professions such as teaching and social work. “There’s nothing wrong with those careers, of course,” Hawley assures us — after all, home care workers vote too — but he seems concerned that such jobs just aren’t manly enough. “Men have historically been less interested in these fields and less educationally prepared to take them on,” writes Hawley. And besides, “is it really too much to ask for our economy to work for men as they are, rather than as the left wants them to be?”