I’ve been hearing faint messages on the ol’ sagebrush telegraph that Sen. Josh Hawley from the “Show Me” State has scribbled a new book about manhood, cleverly titled “Manhood”.
You remember Hawley, don’t you? He’s the skinny little dude who was caught on video running away from the January 6 insurrection that he helped foment. Running like his ass is on fire.
So I suspended my disbelief and did some research. The rumor is true, and the irony is too rich to resist. Manhood: The Masculine Virtues America Needs
Relax! I won’t review Hawley’s screed here. In fact, I won’t even waste my time reading it. Instead, I’ll opine on how Josh Hawley is the last person qualified to preach to Wyoming men about what it means to have a pair.
First, let's agree that neither gender has a monopoly on intrinsic virtue, so this will NOT be a column about a culture war between the sexes. But I will demonstrate that “the masculine virtues America needs” have been expressed and taught in the Cowboy State long before Josh was a twinkle in his ol’ man’s eye.
I grew up around men who exemplified masculinity by how they lived their lives. They didn’t need to pontificate about masculine virtues because their actions did the talking for them.
The first glaring difference between Hawley and a real Wyoming man is that we don’t run away from a fight, regardless who started it, as he comically did. He’ll never live that down. In the Cowboy State, folks will henceforth chuckle when the words “Josh Hawley” and “man” are mentioned in the same sentence.
Just as importantly, the kind of Wyoming men who raised me never considered politics to be an extension of their manhoods. Not even by an inch. Theirs was a quiet, dignified masculinity that was never expressed by frantic and zealous rhetoric. It was not preached, just lived.
I remember these mean clearly, though they are gone now. Solid sons of the Carbon County soil who were a generational link to the male virtues passed along to them and that they passed on to their own sons.
Mostly ranchers, but also railroaders, refinery workers, businessmen, tradesmen,...all the practitioners of the work necessary to keep a small Wyoming town safe and thriving.
Their names were, of course, Miller, but also McKay, Rasmussen, Brox, Matson, Rendle, Ogburn, Jeffrey, Terrill, Peterson, Shaffer, Hadsell, Espy, Irene and many others. We were bound by blood, marriage or simply the bonds of love and community.
Their examples have guided me through my life as a man more effectively than anything that could be written by a sprinting politician from Missouri.
If you grew up in another part of Wyoming, you have your own list of men like this. Without them, we would live in a different Wyoming, not the place we now know and love.
Hawley likely wrote his little book to score political points as a counter-punch against the progressive hoopla du jour about the dangers of historical patriarchy and toxic masculinity.
The men whose names I mentioned wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about that stuff. They were too busy fulfilling their responsibilities as men to the people around them. If someone got offended by how they went about doing that, well that’s just too damn bad.
If these fine Wyoming men were alive today, they’d suggest that Runnin’ Josh Hawley go peddle his weak snake oil somewhere else where men might need a little help standing on their own two feet and being, well...men.
It sure as hell won’t sell in Wyoming.
Rod MiIller can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org