Currently Reading

Boris Johnson Diagnoses Putin with “Toxic Masculinity” by Harrison Pitt

2 minute read

Read Previous

G7 Concludes: Struggling to Keep Apace in a New World Order by Tristan Vanheuckelom

Turkey Lifts Its Veto Against Finland and Sweden Joining NATO by Hélène de Lauzun

Read Next


Boris Johnson Diagnoses Putin with “Toxic Masculinity”

In recent years, left-wing politicians have seemed to oscillate between saying that women ‘don’t exist’ and arguing that the world would be a much better place if only more of them did. Their right-wing rivals, meanwhile, have usually been clever enough to avoid such ontological confusion.

However, one nominally conservative politician who has sometimes flirted with ‘woke’ language around gender is Prime Minister Boris Johnson. At the G7 in 2021, he made an absurdly strange promise to rebuild the world economy in a “gender-neutral” and “more feminine” way—as if these two terms do not utterly contradict each other. This peculiar statement was put out at a time when, not least among the poorest in the UK, any renewed growth at all—feminine or otherwise—would have been welcome. After all, the country suffered a 9.9% decline in GDP throughout 2020, most of it caused by the government’s addiction to heavy-handed lockdowns.

In the time since, Johnson has tended to be slightly more sensible. Where many of his colleagues have struggled on the issue of whether women have the right to bear penises, Johnson felt qualified enough to argue recently that the “basic facts of biology remain overwhelmingly important” when it comes to distinguishing between men and women. Courageous indeed. 

But now he has ventured back into bewildering territory. On Wednesday, ahead of a scheduled NATO meeting, Johnson lifted some further talking points from the wokesters’ playbook, calling Putin’s monstrous invasion of Ukraine “a perfect example of toxic masculinity” and urging the world to install “more women in positions of power.” It is not clear how these remarks promise to help the people of Ukraine, whether that takes the form of shoring up security in that country and the wider region or, better still, seeking some way to end the fighting. As for Johnson’s additional assertion that Putin’s lack of womanhood caused the invasion, the Prime Minister might find that Catherine the Great’s Wikipedia page re-pays close study. 

It is also somewhat puzzling that a male Prime Minister, shortly after a bruising leadership challenge which came close to ejecting him from Downing Street, should wish to begin mouthing off about the need for more female political figures on the world stage. After all, rumour has it that there are plenty of women in his own party—particularly Liz Truss and Penny Mordaunt—who are considering leadership bids in the event of Johnson’s widely expected demise. Why should Johnson not resign now and thereby make room for these ambitious ladies? If the need to diversify the genitalia at NATO summits is such a moral imperative, how should we interpret Johnson’s refusal to entertain resignation on these grounds? Perhaps he suffers from a milder variant of the ‘toxic masculinity’ he claims to discern in Putin’s power-hungry deeds.

Joking aside, Boris Johnson is facing the political battle of his lifetime. He must prove to Conservative voters, as well as to Tory MPs, that he is a fount of energy and ideas, not a statesman in mental decline. Every moment spent trying to impress Guardian readers or pumping out dim-witted left-wing guff is a waste of time. 

Harrison Pitt is a writer for The European Conservative. Based in the UK, he has also been published in The Spectator, Quillette, Spiked-Online, The Critic, and others.