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Historian Kristin Kobes-Du Mez: Hawley Latest to Politicize So-Called Threats to Masculinity

Hawley is calling for a "revival of ... manhood in America." Kristin Kobes Du Mez, a Calvin University professor and the author of Jesus and John Wayne, explains how masculinity is a political issue.



Senator Josh Hawley says he's defending men. The Missouri Republican spoke last week at the National Conservatism Conference. He attacked the political left, as many Republicans do, and alleged they are targeting masculinity.


JOSH HAWLEY: This is an effort that the left has been at for years now, and they have had alarming success. American men are working less. They're getting married in fewer numbers. They're fathering fewer children. They're suffering more anxiety and depression. They're engaging in more substance abuse.

INSKEEP: In a TV interview with Axios, Hawley said he wants to make this a signature political issue. We heard a critique of Hawley's speech from Kristin Kobes Du Mez. She is the author of an acclaimed book on Christian nationalism called "Jesus And John Wayne." It argues that white evangelicals embraced an idea of men drawn more from Western movies than from the Bible. She teaches at Calvin University, which is a Christian school in Michigan. When she read Hawley's speech, she said something was missing.

KRISTIN KOBES DU MEZ: It's never entirely clear how he defines masculinity, even though he's quite certain that masculinity is under attack, and the left is trying to do away with real men. He uses words like courage, independence and assertiveness. He is calling on conservative men to step up to their roles as providers and protectors - protectors of faith, family and nation and to protect what he calls our culture.

INSKEEP: I want to ask how this compares to what's really going on in society because he seems to have keyed off of a Wall Street Journal article that interviewed a lot of men, and it's not the only article I've seen that's played on this theme. The September 6 article had the headline "A Generation Of American Men Give Up On College." And then there's a quote from a young man, I just feel lost. And they cite a real statistic that of college students right now, they're almost 60% women. Would you agree that something is going on or even going wrong there?

DU MEZ: I think that there are many challenges that the younger generation is facing right now, women and men. But there are a lot of assumptions that Hawley's making that the problems are caused by some sort of destruction of manhood or destruction of masculinity when we could look at, what are the expectations of masculinity that might be inappropriate, that might be outmoded that are perhaps exacerbating this crisis?

Read entire article at Georgia Public Broadcasting