America, many conservatives believe, is facing a masculinity crisis. The general drift of modern culture, the argument goes, has merged with the anti-patriarchal agenda of the radical left to create a climate in which boys and men are made to feel that there is something inherently suspect or even shameful about their sex.
Hawley’s speech did not take note of how thoroughly masculine virtues, under this definition, have been diluted within his own Republican Party during the Trump era.
Nor did he cite the figure who is the most vivid counterexample. The person who is the most credible answer to the GOP’s manhood problem is a woman: Liz Cheney.
Wyoming’s lone congresswoman is widely loathed by acolytes of Donald Trump. Certainly Hawley has not sought to join her in confronting the former president or demanding accountability for the ways his claims of election fraud led to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. But it would be hard to argue that Cheney does not represent “courage, and independence and assertiveness.”
Many people will be uncomfortable viewing these admirable qualities through the prism of gender. Standing firm on principle, and doing the right thing even when there may be a high cost to doing so, are qualities anyone should aspire to — no matter whether they are male, female or reject binary gender categories altogether.