Why Sen. Josh Hawley Telling Young Men to Man Up Won't Work


One of the reasons I started writing my newsletter was that I saw so many young men turning to online gurus for life advice rather than seeking direction from traditional institutions and authority figures, particularly the church. Why are young men avoiding church but tuning in by the millions to people ranging from the relatively anodyne Jordan Peterson to the dubious Andrew Tate?

I came to the conclusion that the church was getting it wrong on some important points, and the online gurus, despite being morally questionable in many cases, were often more factually accurate and gave better insights about the real world we live in.

I want to highlight an example of how traditional conservative figures miss the mark on men in the form of a recent appearance by Sen. Josh Hawley on Tucker Carlson’s show. I believe Hawley is serious and well-intentioned. I completely share his goals that more people would get married and have kids, and that men would kick the porn habit. Unlike many, he’s also getting some things right. Unfortunately, he is also off in some ways that will undermine his effectiveness. I will review these in some detail so that he, and others who are genuinely concerned about the problems facing young men today, can re-calibrate to become even more effective.

But first let’s watch these. Here’s the Tucker Carlson segment:

Here’s a transcript of a portion of Hawley’s remarks:

Somebody’s got to be honest and tell the truth to these young men. And the truth is that what the porn industry is selling them is a total lie. And the truth is, American society needs them. We need them to step up. We need them to go get married, have families, and be responsible husbands and fathers. This society is impoverished because too many young men are too despairing, are too checked out on social media or porn to be doing what we need them to be doing as a country. It’s time to call people, to call young people in particular, young men, to be something more. And Tucker, they want to be called to it. They don’t want to be sold a bill of goods anymore. Somebody needs to tell them the truth.

The message to young people is the most you can aspire to in life is to be a consumer who sits in a cubicle in front of a computer all day - and doesn’t ask any questions, doesn’t do anything meaningful with your life. And what we need to say to young men -  and young women, too - is just the opposite. Aspire to be something more than a consumer. For young men, aspire to be something more than a consumer of pornography. Aspire to actually create something in your life - like create a family, for instance. That is the single greatest act of rebellion, if you like, against the liberal culture that is suppressing people’s desires, that is suppressing their potential, is to go out and actually engage in real relationships, get married, have a family, have kids, have your own ideas and be a responsible member of society. This is what people are built to do. It’s what young people want to do. They want to be challenged. 

Tucker’s segment is a follow-up to a speech by Hawley at a recent Turning Points USA event. TPUSA is a youth oriented conservative group similar to the old Young Americans for Freedom or College Republicans. I was unable to find a full video of Hawley’s talk (send it to me at if you have one). But here are what appear to be a few clips.

Read the rest of this piece on Aaron M. Renn on Substack.

Aaron M. Renn is an opinion-leading urban analyst, consultant, speaker and writer on a mission to help America's cities and people thrive and find real success in the 21st century. He focuses on urban, economic development and infrastructure policy in the greater American Midwest. He also regularly contributes to and is cited by national and global media outlets, and his work has appeared in many publications, including the The Guardian, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Photo: screenshot from video.