Outgoing North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn is being roundly mocked for using his farewell speech on the House floor to rail against the rise of “metrosexuals” at the supposed expense of traditional masculinity.
Mr Cawthorn, a notoriously extreme Trumpist Republican who has been embroiled in personal and political scandals since the start of his single term in Congress, themed his speech around what he sees as the perverse rise of a more caring type of manhood.
“Our young men are taught that weakness is strength, that delicacy is desirable, and that being a soft metrosexual is more valuable than training the mind, body, and soul,” he griped.
Addressing men directly, he asked: “Will you sit behind a screen while the storied tales of your forefathers become a myth? Or will you stand resolute against the dying light of America’s golden age?
“Will you reclaim your masculinity? Will you become a man to be feared, to be respected, to be looked up to? Or will you let this nation’s next generation be its final generation?”
Many onlookers responded to Mr Cawthorn’s address not just by ridiculing the substance of the speech itself, but by pointing to the various videos and pictures of Mr Cawthorn in his wilder moments that have surfaced during his time in Congress – among them homoerotic tussles with male friends (including a cousin) and an appearance in lingerie at a party.
The 27-year-old Republican, who shot to prominence as a far right ally of Donald Trump when he was first elected in 2020, has been quiet since losing his bid for re-nomination in a Republican primary matchup against Rep-elect Chuck Edwards in May.
According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, Mr Cawthorn has left his offices in his district and at the Capitol vacant and has stopped answering constituent calls.
The congressman’s obsession with conservative constructions of masculinity and the purported decline of the American golden age, which puts him in line with far-right figures including Tucker Carlson and groups such as the Proud Boys, has long been part of his public persona. In one particularly disquieting speech, he raged against a supposed drop in national testosterone levels and urged American mothers to fight back. “If you are raising a young man,” he said, “please raise them to be a monster.”
But while the mockery directed at the congressman has mostly focused on this hypocrisy, his record in the House has been not just salacious but also tainted by various statements espousing extremist views and incidents in which he has been caught carrying firearms in restricted areas and driving on a revoked licence.
Mr Cawthorn eventually came in for a reprimand from the House GOP leadership when he claimed, apparently without evidence, that he had been invited to orgies by others in Washington, DC and witnessed people doing “key bumps” of cocaine on Capitol Hill.
It was after this incident that the Republican establishment fully rounded on him, wholeheartedly backing a primary challenger who ultimately defeated him in his safely red district this summer.
His final speech comes at a time when many Republicans are working to limit societal acceptance of gender expansiveness and some Americans are reconsidering the utility of traditional gender roles. It is not clear what the future holds for Mr Cawthorn, who is set to become one of the youngest ex-Congressmen in American history.