Toxic Masculinity and the New, New Right

by | Dec 15, 2021 | Politics | 18 comments

North Carolina Congressional candidate Bo Hines released a campaign video flaunting his physicality. The piece showed him vigorously pumping iron and doing pullups in a gym bedecked with a prominently displayed Back the Blue flag. Over a background of rock music, a tough-guy’s voice says Hines will bring “North Carolina gridiron values” to Congress. Message: This guy is a stud. Vote for him.

Hines’s ad is a particularly buffoonish artifact of a cultural trend on the right that should disturb all Americans who seek a healthy public sphere. That trend is the growing ubiquity of toxic masculinity in the Republican Party and, especially, the outgrowth of right-wing populism that has swallowed more and more space in the world of conservative politics. Leading a party heavily dependent upon male votes, more and more GOP politicians affect an unrestrained, belligerent masculinity that they portray as the key to crushing the liberal-left.

Bo Hines is hardly the only politician to place physicality and the capacity for dominance at the center of his public persona. As in most things, GOP politicians are taking their cues from Donald Trump. The ex-president electrified Republican voters with promises to bring back “waterboarding and things a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” When Ted Cruz took a qualified anti-torture stance, a (female) Trumper jeered “pussy!” Trump made bullying and uninhibited machismo the central trope of Republican political culture.

At the dark heart of this ethos is disdain for women. We see it across the GOP, with misogyny widespread and even the experience of rape no longer an automatic impetus for sympathy from the GOP establishment. Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson, a brash and super-combative populist, blamed rape victims for the violence that was inflicted on them. “That is Darwin,” he sneered, as if being subject to sexual violence were a matter of losing the evolutionary race. “I cannot help you.” And of course Donald Trump got a higher percentage of the white evangelical vote than Mitt Romney just a month after the Access Hollywood tape.

The rise of toxic masculinity in the GOP stems from insecurities on the part of the Republican Party’s male base. The core of the GOP coalition is the less-educated, white male working class. Increasingly, these working-class white men are being joined by Latinos and even some Black men with culturally conservative proclivities. The information economy has been kinder to educated women than to less-educated men, and rather than adjust their behavior and value sets to accommodate the rise of women, too many conservative men have lashed out in misogynistic rage. Republicans are answering their desire for gender vengeance by putting on a show of what conservative columnist Ross Douthat called “performative masculinity.”

The GOP is a remarkably male-dominated institution. In the United States House of Representatives, only 12 members of the Republican caucus are women. In the North Carolina General Assembly, 86% of the Republican majority are men. This is a failure to recruit representation for one half of the American population and has an impact on policymaking, but homogeneity alone would not necessarily make the GOP a dangerous institution. What makes the GOP the party of toxic masculinity is that they fail at one of the central tasks of any civilized society. Constraining male violence is a prerequisite for maintaining a peaceful, functional society. In this area as in so many others in the Republican oeuvre, things are falling apart.


  1. Bill Cokas

    Another belly laugh for me today: “Democrat policies have brought hard times.” This must be a reference to the sole downside of Biden’s presidency so far, inflation. Every other economic indicator clearly shows how vastly–exponentially–things have improved since January 20. But trolls and Republicans have no use for facts.

  2. Morris

    So I researched Bo Hines when I saw this. I had forgotten he played for NC State, but transferred to Yale. Didn’t encounter anything I’d consider toxic. I liked what I read. Seemed like someone I’d consider as I live in that district. Of course I’m a 64 year old man who’s worked hard and played hard most of my life and not intimidated by masculinity – or much of anything else for that matter.
    Still he’s going up against Virginia Foxx in the primary, and that’s a tall order. A Democrat has zero chance in the 5th. Foxx got 67% of the vote in the 5th in 2020. If Hines beats her, he’ll get 67% – or more.

  3. Shel W. Anderson

    Great article, guaranteed to activate many women. Do you ever submit to The 19th? I first got active in women’s rights back in the 70’s. A bit depressing to see some of the same crap floating around.

  4. Norma Munn

    I am astounded at the arrogance shown in several of these posts. As a woman, I have encountered just about every form of nasty masculinity around so I probably should not be. I don’t judge every man based on those toxic experiences, but reading some of this offensive nonsense I can see that far too little has changed during my 84 years in this world. I do not expect perfection from the male half of the human race, but I do expect respect. Very little of that is shown in most of these posts, which sound more like petulant teenagers than adults.

    • phoenix


      I am astounded at the arrogance shown in several of these posts.—(Namely?)

      As a woman,—(No idea what your sex has to do with anything but ok.)
      I have encountered just about every form of nasty masculinity around —( oooh do tell!) so I probably should not be.
      don’t judge every man based on those toxic experiences,—-( Good you shouldn’t judge.) but reading some of this offensive nonsense —-(such as?)

      I can see that far too little has changed during my 84 years in this world. —-(Well isn’t that your fault I mean you’ve been around pretty much longer than anyone whay haven’t you changed it?)

      I do not expect perfection from the male half of the human race,—(Nor do Men of Women so I guess you guys are even!)

      but I do expect respect.—(Ok? have you been disrespected in some way?)

      Very little of that is shown in most of these posts,—-( Again, Such as?)

      which sound more like petulant teenagers than adults.( I suppose your own post not included in this determination since it seems pretty petulant.)

      Lots to say, but nothing said. Ah well.

    • cocodog

      Norma, allow me to introduce you to our resident day trading troll, “phoenix” He or she posts inflammatory, insincere, digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages on this online community, with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses or manipulating others’ perception. He or she claims to have been kicked off other sites, but unfortunately this is not one of them. In addition, he or she changes identity, goes by different names, but outs himself or herself by spelling, grammar one might expect from a 3rd grader and sentence structure that makes no sense. He or she is a bargain basement troll not to betaken seriously and ignored as much as possible.

      • phoenix


        Or I’m right, and post inconvenient truths that you guys don’t want to accept.

        Regardless, I enjoy commenting. and I enjoy the articles. I am happy I am
        able to do so.

      • Norma Munn

        Thanks. I wondered a bit about the grammar and spelling. I usually ignore such nonsense and will certainly resume that habit in the future.

  5. cocodog

    Some folks have negative opinions of AOC, but she worked her way through college, held down a variety of jobs and learned what it took to earn a living. She has a BA from Boston College, attempted to start her own business, and managed a small business for another. She is no stranger to hard work and economic pressures everyday folks feel. This is the type of experience persons charged with the responsibility of writing and voting on legislation that affects others should have. They understand the single parent frustration when they must scrounge to food on the table or deal with a boss who believes he owns an employee. We saw what happened when employees of a candle factory tried to leave the building which was in the path of hurricane. They were threatened with termination. Not all employers are created equal, not all really care about what happens to their workers. AOC understands this she worked for folks who harbored that view.

  6. cocodog

    Foxx, many believe has been showing signs of a mental slow down for years needs to be replaced. It is does not like she should be put out to pasture with the traditional gold watch or whatever Congress gives their retirees, but she lacks the acuity to play a productive role in pushing through legislation which serves the best interest of this state. She has become a go along, come along Republican.
    The Guy who wants to replace her has nothing to show in the way of practical experience. He played football on a college team, studies law by computer, but holds nothing in the way of a job. In his 25 years of he has never had a position of responsibility in a business. He has been a schoolboy most of his 25years. Great qualifications if he is running for student body president, but highly questionable as a background for the US House of Representatives.
    The only folks this guy had contact with is other students and coaches. This state needs people who have been there and done that, like met a pay role, negotiated for a market share, or had to dig up funds to start a business venture or expand an existing one. We need folks who know what it takes to improve the economic interests of the residents of this state, not win a football game.
    Being macho has nothing to do with the issues. Experience counts in this day and age. We have seen what Cawthorn accomplished or should I say not accomplished. Let’s not have another want a be learning on the job type. North Carolina can not afford anymore of this nonsense.

    • Phoenix

      Well If AOC and can do it I guess he can too. That about all I’ve got

      Good points though.

  7. phoenix.

    Men who know they are men are in.Women who know they are women are in Men who are weak and effeminate and “chicks with dicks” are out.

    Democrat policies have brought hard times. Harder times are coming. These times burn away foolishness because no one has time for it.

    Who do you want to protect you in hard times? An effete male pussy in footy pajamas? Some trans-moron who has no idea who or what he/she/ it is/are? or A man who knows what is real and appears he can handle himself, and by extension the hard times coming?

    Its Biology.

    and its marketing.

    and once again democrats are on the wrong side.. Because there is no such thing as “Toxic masculinity” and to mention it as if its real makes normal people roll their eyes and walk away.

    Fortunately the Democrats are headed for the wilderness for 40 years (or more) where hopefully they will burn away all this stupidity and become normal again.

    Then maybe I can rejoin my party.

    • Kayman

      That’s the dumbest comment I’ve ever read on this site. Just stupidity and uber- white male centered stupidity at that. I’m a state where the majority of people moving here aren’t apart of that demographic…

      • phoenix

        In your opinion maybe. Doesn’t mean I am wrong though. Even if you don’t like it. Too bad so sad!

        Since I am getting flak I must be over the target. I’m sure taking a run a one one the Woke’s must sacred sacraments will ruffle feathers. Especailly when its true.

        Times are a changin,’ and people are going to have very little time for such foolishness.

        We’ll see won’t we.

        • bettywhite

          Unfortunately Phoenix, you are only posting YOUR opinion as well. And what in the world does “taking a run a one one the Woke’s must sacred sacraments” even mean? How can anyone take you seriously when you can’t even proofread your own posts?

    • David

      Day, dude. You sound such a sad case. I hope you get some help…

      • phoenix

        Sorry you going to have to be more clear. What are you trying to say

      • cocodog

        David, I thought your message regarding our day trader troll was right on point. It needs professional help and appropriate medication!

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