Another day, another reason for Rush Limbaugh to get Limbaugh-size mad about some fairly innocuous shit.
This time the radio talk show host is railing against the University of Texas at Austin for a new program that aims to expand the definition of “what it means to be masculine,” claiming that the initiative treats masculinity as a “mental health issue.”
MasculinUT, which first drew attention on social media thanks to a poster campaign, promotes a more expansive approach to masculinity. Its goals include helping men come together to address “interpersonal violence, sexual assault and other issues,” UT wrote in a statement.
But the collective right-wing blogosphere got its extremely manly draws in a bunch over the program, claiming that because the program is operated through UT’s Counseling and Mental Health Center, it therefore treats masculinity like a “mental health issue.”
Limbaugh also took special exception to the fact that a university in a conservative state was offering the program.
“Texas? In red state Texas masculinity is being treated as a mental health challenge, that too many men are simply crumbling under the pressure to be a man,” Limbaugh ranted on his blog. “So if it’s not a good thing for a man to be a man, then what are they going to turn men into? What do you think is the alternative? If masculinity is a problem, then what are these guys gonna become?”
My guess is better men, but Limbaugh—a walking blubber suit of white male tears—wouldn’t know much about that.
“The idea that masculinity has anything to do with sexual assault or violence is absolutely offensive,” wrote the conservative rag.
“A man is not more likely to be a rapist or sexually harass women just because he is professionally successful, has facial hair, enjoys competitive sports, or any other masculine type trait,” it continued, referring to posters for the MasculinUT campaign featuring various students talking about wearing dresses or doing nails if they so choose.
This, of course, is not a point the program was ever trying to make.
PJ Media also jumped into the fray, calling the MasculinUT campaign “a sharp illustration of liberal higher education gone unchecked.”
Absent amid all the outrage is any reporting on the links between domestic violence and gun violence—and how the vast majority of domestic abusers are men.
Absent is the acknowledgment that misogyny appears to be an entry point for the radicalization of white American men—men who later embrace increasingly violent and radical white power ideologies.
Absent is any mention of Elliot Rodger, the California college student who killed six people and injured 14 in a 2014 shooting rampage motivated by the desire to “punish all females for the crime of depriving me of sex.”
As Jezebel pointed out in a recent article about Rodger, Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland, Fla., teen who shot up Stoneman Douglas High School in February, expressed admiration for the killer, as did Alek Minassian, the man accused of driving a rented van into a busy Toronto sidewalk last week.
“All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!” Minassian wrote in a Facebook post that’s since been deleted.
Perhaps it isn’t surprising that toxic masculinity—evidenced in horrific reports of men killing women for the crime of saying no to them—is linked to problems that the right doesn’t really regard as problems, among them gun violence, white power ideology and the abuse of women.
“What are the odds that a bunch of women are running this?” Limbaugh asked, as if the worst thing a man could do, in attempting to be a better man, is participate in a program run by—shudders—women.
What are we going to do next, listen to them?
In railing against the MasculinUT program, conservatives were, again, perfectly predictable, exposing their sense of masculinity for the fraught, fragile and superficial thing it is.