Some attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference took a break Friday to sing the praises of men. All of them.
While they represented disparate factions of the right, the participants in the “Tribute to Men” agreed on one thing: America is facing a plague of “soy boys,” conservative slang for a feminized, liberal man arising from the idea that eating soy products affects a man’s hormones, making him more like her.
“I don’t want to have sex with a soy boy,” declared Kaya Jones, a former member of the Pussycat Dolls who has refashioned herself as a pro-Trump pundit.
Organizer DeAnna Lorraine, upset that the Boy Scouts now accept girls, dubbed them “the soy scouts.”
Manliness, masculinity, and male essence were on the minds of the several dozen people at the Tribute to Men, held in downtown Washington’s Hotel Harrington. In a CPAC week marked by the relative tameness of the official speakers, the Tribute to Men, a separate event timed to coincide with it, stood out for its fringiness.
Speaker Brandon Straka, who rocketed to fame on the right and became a frequent Fox News guest as the organizer of the ex-Democrat “Walkaway Movement,” said that straight white men were liberals’ “target du jour.” Straka is scheduled to speak Saturday at CPAC.
Straka, who is gay, declared that “ain’t nobody loves men like I do.”
“I want an applause for straight men,” Straka said, receiving a wave of applause.
A parade of speakers at the event, who sometimes struggled to talk over a PA system blasting songs like “It’s Raining Men” and “God Bless the U.S.A.,” bemoaned the death of “traditional men” and the rise of what one speaker called “femimen.”
Participants were angry about a variety of culture war issues, from the sexual assault allegations against Justice Brett Kavanaugh to quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s Black Lives Matter protests. A speech from former Oakland Raiders safety Burgess Owens, the author of Liberalism or How to Turn Good Men into Whiners, Weenies and Wimps, was interrupted by an audience member angry about Kaepernick.
“Get that son of a bitch off the field!” the man yelled.
But nothing riled the attendees more than Gillette’s January ad against “toxic masculinity,” which suggested that American men could opt for a kinder, less aggressive kind of manliness.
Several speakers slammed what Lorraine called “that horrible Gillette ad.”
“I’m sure you’ve seen the Gillette commercial,” said PragerU YouTube personality Will Witt, prompting excited boos from the crowd.
Organizers had planned a symbolic “burning” of Gillette products in a repudiation of the company, although none ultimately took place.
The event was organized by Lorraine, who has positioned herself as a pro-Trump relationship expert with her book, Making Love Great Again, and Omar Navarro, whose election challenges to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) made him a cause célèbre in some corners of the right. While Navarro lost both his 2016 and 2018 races by more than 50 points, he plans to run against Waters again in 2020.
While CPAC itself has been relatively buttoned down, the sideshow put some of the right’s most outré figures on stage.
The far-right Proud Boys men’s group was a major presence at the event, with members regularly chanting the group’s slogan, “Uhuru.” Two of the group’s leaders, Enrique Tarrio and Luke Rohlfing, were on hand, along with a handful of members sporting the group’s signature yellow-and-black polo shirts.
Tarrio, wearing a Proud Boys shirt and hat, read from the Proud Boys manifesto and Pat Buchanan’s Death of the West, as he challenged “parasite” enemies.
Then he led the crowd in a series of toasts.
“To the entrepreneurs!” Tarrio said to cheers. “To the housewives!”
Other conservative causes made an appearance—several people in the crowd were wearing shirts declaring that “Roger Stone did nothing wrong,” a slogan that was chanted at one point during the event. The crowd was almost uniformly pro-Trump, with Jones praising the president’s handling of the first lady and his ex-wives.
“You have three wives that are taken care of very well,” Jones said.
The event came to a close with promises to redo the event even bigger during next year’s CPAC week, and a vow renewal between a married couple.
In an attempt to stress the important of men, Witt shuddered to think of what his life would be like without male groups like the Boy Scouts.
“I might be a beta male,” Witt said. “A soy boy.”