Josh Hawley urges young men to 'log off the porn and go ask a real woman on a date'

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The Missouri senator and other Republican lawmakers have been on a crusade against pornography.

Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley told Fox News viewers on Tuesday that he has a plan for how to rebel against "liberal culture." It involves reproducing and giving up porn.

Host Tucker Carlson played a clip of an appearance by Hawley at a Turning Point USA event at which he told his audience: "Young men, let me make a suggestion to you. Why don't you turn off the computer and log off the porn and go ask a real woman on a date?"

Carlson asked Hawley about the remarks, and Hawley responded, "Somebody's got to be honest and tell the truth to these young men."

"The liberal culture, the message to young people is, The most you can aspire to in life is to be a consumer who sits in a cubicle in front of a computer all day and doesn't ask any questions and doesn't do anything meaningful with your life," Hawley urged:

And what we need to say to young men and young women too is just the opposite: Aspire to be something more than a consumer. And for young men, aspire to be something more than a consumer of pornography. Aspire to actually create something in your life, like create a family, for instance. That is the single greatest act of rebellion, if you like, against the liberal culture that is suppressing people's desires, that is suppressing their potential, is to go out and actually engage in real relationships, get married, have a family, have kids, have your own ideas, and be a responsible member of society. I mean, this is what people are built to do.

This is not the first time Hawley has railed against pornography. He blamed liberals for undermining masculinity and driving men to porn at the National Conservatism Conference in October 2021.

According to the Springfield News-Leader, Hawley told the conference, "Can we be surprised that after years of being told they are the problem, that their manhood is the problem, more and more men are withdrawing into the enclave of idleness and pornography and video games?"

"As conservatives, we've got to call men back to responsibility," he told "Axios on HBO" a month later. "We've got to say that spending your time not working — and we have more and more men who are not working — spending your time on video games, spending your time watching porn online while doing nothing, is not good for you, your family or this country."

Some Republicans have been waging war against the adult entertainment industry for years.

Ohio Sen.-elect J.D. Vance argued during his campaign that the nation needs a complete porn ban. "I think the combination of porn, abortion have basically created a really lonely, isolated generation that isn't getting married, they're not having families, and they're actually not even totally sure how to interact with each other," he told the Catholic publication Crisis Magazine in August 2021.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee filed a bill on Dec. 14 that would redefine illegal "obscenity" in a way that critics say could lead to a total ban on online porn.

During a hearing In January 2017 on the nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to be attorney general, then-Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said: "In the 108th Congress, you introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 77, expressing the sense of the Congress that Federal obscenity laws should be vigorously enforced throughout the United States. ... Is it still your view that Federal laws prohibiting adult obscenity should be vigorously enhanced?"

Sessions responded, "Those laws are clear and being prosecuted today and should be continued to be effectively and vigorously prosecuted in the cases that are appropriate."

Republicans' war on pornography has faltered in recent years, with the rise of the internet and court precedents making the industry virtually impossible to regulate.

In its 1973 Miller v. California ruling, the Supreme Court held that published material is generally protected as free speech unless “‘the average person, applying contemporary community standards’ would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest.” With the internet making adult content ubiquitous, legal experts say, it is now nearly impossible to make the case that adult pornography is outside of community standards in the United States.

Few Americans see access to pornography as the most important issue facing the country right now.

Since 1973, the University of Chicago's General Social Survey has asked whether Americans believe pornography should be legal. In its most recent poll in 2021, roughly 69% of respondents said it should be illegal to distribute porn to minors, while 26% of respondents said it should be illegal to distribute porn to people "whatever the age," and 5% of respondents said "there should be no laws forbidding the distribution of pornography."

In 2014, UCLA professor of communications and psychology Neil Malamuth told ThinkProgress that most studies on the topic had debunked the idea that viewing pornography was damaging to men.

"For the majority of men, we don't really find any negative effects [from viewing pornography] and even find what they consider positive effects," he said, with the caveat that watching porn can have negative effects "for a small, but important minority [of] men."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.