Pro tip: Don’t check your email while driving. Not only is one in four car accidents in the United States the result of texting while driving, but you may be so shocked that someone you’ve known for years asks you to text about Tucker Carlson and testicle tanning so you dodge and almost fell into a river.
At least that’s what happened to me this morning. My editor asked if I could have “an angle on Tucker Carlson’s weird manhood/ball tanning knit,” to which my initial response was surprised that there already was an angle on Tucker’s ball tan, let alone needed a new one. This is an image I never asked for and could have lived happily without.
Unfortunately, this is indeed a thing, as evidenced by Carlson’s Tucker Carlson Originals documentary series, in which he interviewed someone named Andrew McGovern who claims to be a fitness pro and is a fairly enthusiastic proponent of roasting chestnuts, if not over an open fire, at least in that way something like a microwave. If men want to increase their testosterone levels, McGovern says they should consider red light therapy.
While I would certainly recommend Carlson, McGovern, and most men watching this program to try some form of therapy, it wouldn’t involve making their testicles light up like two disco balls. Andy Levy, the co-host of The New Abnormal podcast, wasn’t wrong when he likened this New Age pseudoscience to “a male version of Goop” — Gwyneth Paltrow’s quack lifestyle brand. It’s tempting, therefore, to leave it at that and chalk this up as yet another bizarre far-right sham like PizzaGate or The Big Lie – a sort of QAnon of the move.
But the truth is too serious for that. Sure, red light therapy on your balls probably won’t help boost testosterone levels as Carlson hopes and McGovern claims. As many pointed out on Twitter, it could actually decrease male fertility. However, the desire to become increasingly masculine and macho is very real and deadly serious.
Preoccupation with masculinity and gender roles is a hallmark of a fascist movement. In fact, it’s baked into the equation. Consider the fascist aesthetic: the strong, muscular Vladimir Putin shirtless astride a stallion; Nazi soldiers goose-stepping in perfect sync; the fasces proper – a tied bundle of wooden poles or sticks representing strength in numbers at the expense of individual freedom – which Mussolini and others adopted as symbols of fascist movements. It’s a decidedly masculine, austere aesthetic designed to convey dominance, power, and control.
Dominance, power and control are traits closely associated with traditional Western notions of masculinity. According to sociologist Paul Kivel, in our hypergenderized world, we associate masculinity—and therefore men—with qualities such as “violence,” “toughness,” “strength,” and “control over women.” Feminists and their allies have opposed these socially constructed behaviors for more than fifty years, insisting on women’s liberation from male oppression and men’s freedom from what Kivel calls the “be-a-man” box. This, we believe, is the key to a fairer and fairer society.
Tucker Carlson believes women are “very primitive” and “like dogs.” He celebrates vigilantes like Kyle Rittenhouse. He has argued that a fascist uprising in America is justified and that parents should “beat up” teachers who teach about LGBTQ Americans, and he idolizes authoritarians like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
So in this context, Carlson’s preoccupation with testosterone and masculinity cannot simply be written off as “goop for bros” or the goofy murmur of a rim diver. Rather, they point to his fascist worldview that sees men – or, more specifically, in Carlson’s case, straight, white, Christian men – as the natural arbiters of total social control and everyone else (mostly women, but also progressive, LGBTQ people and People of Color) as inferior, inferior, and ideally subservient. Those who do not know their place, as the fascist movements of the past show us, are not treated kindly.
However, a little perspective is crucial here. Carlson is not in the process of goose-stepping himself to total power, and for the time being — though it undoubtedly represents a national disgrace and a threat to our democracy — remains reluctant to get involved with Fox.
Still, there is cause for concern. It wouldn’t be ideal if large sections of the American public chose to grill their balls. If you’re reading this and thinking you could make your own donuts, maybe you don’t.
In addition, however, Carlson has the most-watched show on cable news — meaning his words are reaching a huge audience. His presence on Fox News gives him credibility, if only with his viewers. His word is gospel to millions of Americans.
For these reasons and more, it’s imperative that while we laugh at the absurdity of Carlson’s obsession with other men’s balls, we also take a moment to consider what he’s telling us. The seeds planted in the minds of American men – that something has been stolen from them, that their natural places as kings of their castles and lords of the universe have been usurped, and that only through violence, aggression and strength can they reclaim that mantle – are the seeds of a rising authoritarianism. They cannot be ignored, no matter how absurd they may be.
So be sure to listen to what Tucker Carlson says. It is an important guide to where the modern right is headed and could be crucial in preparing for the fight to save democracy. But please, for the love of all that is good and holy, do not tan your testicles.
https://www.independent.ie/life/us-tv-host-tucker-carlsons-testicle-tanning-isnt-just-goop-for-bros-its-far-darker-than-that-41569458.html US TV presenter Tucker Carlson’s testicle tanning isn’t just “Goop for Bros” — it’s a lot darker than that