I take little interest in men’s balls. Unlike Tucker Carlson …

Let me be the first to admit that I’m not an expert on testicles. I’m not even an amateur enthusiast, if I’m being honest. Still, even with my limited knowledge of the subject, I was taken aback by recent reports that applying infrared beams to the little fellas might be the key to saving men and averting the apocalypse.

The source of these unusual claims? Fox News, that perennial font of spuriously sourced wisdom. Tucker Carlson, one of the most popular pundits on the network, recently had the Ohio-based fitness professional Andrew McGovern on his show to discuss how one might “reverse the effects of falling testosterone”. (As everyone knows, if you’ve got a complex question about hormones, personal trainers make far better sources than endocrinologists.)

One of McGovern’s ideas to increase testosterone was red light therapy or “testicle tanning”, which he described as a “bromeopathic” therapy. Carlson, who has spent much of the past year spreading misinformation about Covid vaccines, and recently joked about how he’s unvaccinated, appeared intrigued by the unorthodox concept. “Open your mind,” he told the singer Kid Rock, a guest on his programme, who was rather more sceptical. “Don’t you think, at this point, when so many of the therapies, the paths they’ve told us to take, have turned out to be dead ends that really hurt people, why wouldn’t open-minded people seek new solutions?” (Kid Rock did not agree – and when Kid Rock is the voice of a reason in an argument you know things are dire.)

Carlson’s own mind, it should be said, has been bursting open at the seams with testosterone recently. The broadcaster has a new documentary coming out called The End of Men which, as far as I can gather, is all about how men aren’t as tough as they used to be and don’t produce as much sperm as they used to do, and how we’re all going to die because of this. I say “as far as I can gather”, because the documentary’s trailer, a condensed version of which just went viral on Twitter, doesn’t contain a coherent argument, just lots and lots of crotch shots. It’s an incredibly homoerotic montage of muscly men, including one very bizarre shot of a naked dude standing in front of what looks like a large lateral flow test with a red glow around his manly bits.

While Carlson’s visual metaphors are inspired, the meat of his documentary appears to be anything but. If I had a penny for every time a highly privileged rightwing man proclaimed masculinity to be in peril I would have more money than Elon Musk. Last year, for example, the Republican politician Josh Hawley lamented that feminists and the left want to “give us a world beyond men”. These evil forces have demonised men, Hawley said, forcing them to withdraw into the “enclave of idleness and pornography and video games”. Which honestly doesn’t sound like such a bad deal to me.

But I’ll give credit where it’s due. Carlson’s opinions on the crisis of masculinity may be trite, but I think his embrace of testicle tanning is, overall, a positive development. Much of the man’s time is currently spent broadcasting racist and hateful ideas to large swathes of the US. If we can get him to embrace “bromeopathy” instead, if we can turn him into the male equivalent of Gwyneth Paltrow, we can minimise his harm. Far better that he sells luxury testicle tanners on his own version of Goop than peddles hate on Fox News.

That said, I don’t want to imply that people like Carlson and Hawley are entirely off base when they complain about masculinity being in peril. They are, in fact, entirely correct that the modern world is bad for men. But it’s not woke culture men need to be worried about: it’s toxic chemicals and pollution, not gender theory, that are are shrinking penises and lowering sperm counts. But how on earth do we get these rightwingers to realise they need to be more concerned about the climate crisis than the left? It’s a tough nut to crack.

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