Why are men making a hard-right turn?
By Bob Hunter
Unlike my previous writings, this article aims to raise questions, not defend a thesis or propose a solution. Why are men making a hard-right turn? Is there an explanation? How is this happening and what are the contributing factors?
There are several possible reasons:
Trump era politics. Trump championed tough-guy politics mixed with religious faith and behold, a new brand of nationalism was born. Evangelical men bought into it by the thousands. In the words of Baptist scholar Alan Bean, “The unspoken mantra of post-war evangelicalism was simple: Jesus can save your soul; but John Wayne will save your ass.” Trump exemplifies those values and his emergence onto the political scene gave men permission to express it.
Natural polarity. Some men are getting more conservative because society is becoming more progressively liberal. Newtons’ third law applies; for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Truthfully, a lot of men are fed up with society’s slide toward to the left and feel corrective action is needed. Correcting the extremes of one movement can only be corrected by postulating the equal and opposite extreme, thus some men are moving farther right in order to distinguish themselves from what they perceive as the extremes of the left. It begs the question, is the current trend a reactionary movement of sorts?
Perceived chaos and anarchy. Discipline and control are the logical alternative to perceived chaos and anarchy. Take major U.S. cities for example. Many of those cities are governed by left leaning politicians guided by principles of progressivism. Cities like Portland, Seattle, and L.A. are regressing into a third world state. An American wasteland of masculinity is one way to describe it. Rioting, rampant drugs, homelessness, incarceration, etc. Societal ills disproportionately affecting men. As chaos reigns in the streets, alternative norms are sought. Is the shift right a quest to escape?
Gender ideology. Manhood is under attack and “what’s in a man?” has never faced more scrutiny. The vagueness and ambiguity surrounding gender has turned a lot of men away from the source of those ideas and arguments. Could this be a factor in men returning to traditional definitions and understandings of manhood for clarity? Has gender fluidity and feminism backfired? How can a man be a man, if he can suddenly change that preference and become a woman? Is the question many ask.
The allure of toxicity and radicalism. Former kickboxing champion Andrew Tate was the most googled man in 2022. Tate’s toxic brand of masculinity gained widespread popularity on social media racking up billions of views until he was banned. Tate’s teachings echoed medieval times where men fight for valor, assemble a harem of women, and hoard wealth. Young men by the millions followed Tate on social media reveling in fantasies of physical dominance, sexual prowess, and wealth accumulation just like their idol, Andrew Tate. Not all of his influence was bad, Tate encouraged men to get off the couch, hit the gym, and be productive citizens. Unfortunately, he also reinforced misogyny, patriarchy, and polyamorous relationships. Why did Andrew Tate’s brand of toxic masculinity draw such interest?
Example #1: Comedian J.P. Sears recently announced his conversion to Christianity from a life of new age spirituality. During the pandemic, Sears went viral with a series of videos mocking mask mandates and decrying government control. Sears claims the presence of evil in the world and a sense of God being at war with Satan drove him to Christianity. The Christian practice of prayer was also instrumental in guiding Sears to his newfound faith. Faith and freedom are now his message. Now the darling of far-right conservatives, Sears claims he is on a mission from God. Sears testimony can be found here: I Changed My Mind About God - Here's Why - YouTube
Example #2: A few years ago, our small not-for-profit partnered with a larger youth organization to deliver adventure ministry to youth. We shared mutual concern for the fatherless and a desire to mentor youth. In recent weeks, the partnership dissolved. The organization’s director, a Fuller Seminary graduate, moved to Alabama and made a hard right -turn embracing John Piper’s theological perspective which included strict complementarian views. He now believes we are living in the last days according to God’s sovereign will. He claims to stand on the truth while others experience the enemy's deceit. Needless to say, we had to part ways, I’m theologically Wesleyan and I embrace egalitarianism which is perceived as an unbiblical threat. To what extent does the allure of certainty and absolutism play a role in men embracing neo-reformed theology and deterministic thinking? Is this a reaction to post-modernism’s relativism?
Final questions: Is it just me, or is the middle disappearing? Will this trend last? Is it possible to unpolarize our faith and differentiate ourselves from the extremes?
What are your thoughts?