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Did you hear that Senator Josh Hawley is working on a book? It’s called “Manhood.”

You may have seen Josh recently on TV. He was celebrating the GOP’s legislative victory over cancer-afflicted war veterans. After seeing that, I concluded that he’s not the right person (of any gender) to be writing such a book. In fact, given the new ways we are all thinking about gender these days, maybe the time is long past when such a book would even be interesting, much less useful.

Senator Hawley, I assume, would disagree. His subtitle for the book is "The Masculine Virtues America Needs." From what I can tell, he means things like responsibility, bravery, fidelity, and leadership. Perhaps he will explain in the book why those wouldn’t also be virtues of womanhood.

In the interest of transparency, I should disclose here that I am a man — a grown man. As I was growing up, I listened closely to what society was telling me about how to be a man —how to act, how to interact, how to be.

For good or ill, I have tried for most of my life to live up to those expectations. Consequently, I am fully trained in the traditional, if outdated, manifestations of manhood. So, I can recognize it when I see it. I most definitely did not see it in that display of pettiness and cruelty put on by those Republican men in the well of the Senate. They were fist-bumping and back-slapping because they had just owned the libs by taking away health care from veterans with stage three cancer.

Their unmanliness becomes even clearer when one realizes that Hawley and his co-celebrants — Ted Cruz of Texas, Steve Daines of Montana, and John Kennedy of Louisiana — never served a minute in the military or risked anything at all in defense of their country. I didn’t either, by the way, but I’d like to think that I would have the good sense, the humility, and the decency not to pull a stunt like that.

Real manhood — or perhaps we should simply call it humanity — is more than just an array of lofty archetypes. It is living a good and honest life and treating others with respect. That takes a whole slew of virtues, including the ones that have traditionally been assigned to womanhood.

There was a time when Josh Hawley was in the front ranks of Republican presidential contenders. He seemed destined for greatness. He was young, bright, accomplished, and had kept his record spotless. He had the best education, the best political resume, the highest approval within his party. All he needed to do was wait, and his turn would come.

But he could not wait. Ambition, it seems, lured him to the dark side.

It’s hard to be sure exactly when that fall from grace occurred, but it first went public on January 6, 2021. You must have seen the photo of Josh giving that very muscular fist pump to the mob as they prepared to storm the Capitol. Somehow, he saw that mob — fueled by hatred and misinformation and bloodlust— as his ticket to the top. After all. if they were good enough for Trump…

It was a miscalculation. The masculine traits represented in that group were not the same ones he professed to admire. Instead, they reflected cruelty and violence and a lust for power. And don’t forget cowardice. Josh showed that in spades a few hours later when he fled in panic from that same mob. Where was the bravery, the leadership, the manhood? They went *poof* then and there, along with his political future. Manhood was meant to be the book that every contender has at the center of their campaign. Now, it’s just a punchline for all the Josh Hawley jokes.

I think it would be pretty hard for anyone to make a serious case for exclusively male virtues as some kind of savior for society. As a philosophy, It’s too limited and too forced. What would be helpful, however, is if someone could explore our shared humanity and find a way forward based on that.

Either way, I don’t think Josh Hawley is the man for the job.
Yes, voting matters. Polls do not.
~ H, Santa Cruz