It was the fight heard ’round the world, or at least the C-SPAN-viewing portion of the world: An argument between Sen. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma and Teamsters union president Sean O’Brien broke out at a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing this week, threatening to turn physical—and requiring none other than Sen. Bernie Sanders to break it up.
After what can only be described as a bro-tastic round of American-taxpayer-funded mudslinging on Tuesday, Mullin and O’Brien got into a scrape so juvenile and reeking of toxic masculinity (which, in my mind, smells like Axe Body Spray mixed with adrenaline sweat) that I have no choice but to simply reprint it below, as not even the screenwriter behind the latest blow-stuff-up movie aimed at men 18-49 could improve on the dialogue:
Mullin: “Sir, this is a time; this is a place. You want to run your mouth? We can be two consenting adults. We can finish it here.”
O’Brien: “OK, that’s fine, perfect.”
Mullin: “You want to do it now?”
O’Brien: “I’d love to do it right now”
Mullin: “Then stand your butt up then.”
O’Brien: “You stand your butt up.”
Sanders (to Mullin): “Stop it! No, no, sit down! You know, you’re a United States senator.”
As someone who doesn’t spend a ton of time around raged-out white men, extremely by choice, I’m bowled over by the latent homoeroticism of this argument (so much talk of butts!). What’s more striking, though, is that O’Brien and Mullin seem to think nothing of getting into it, frat-party-style, in the literal Senate. Yes, in case you’re wondering, that would be the same Senate that made a fuss about women wearing pants until the 1990s.
Depressingly enough, the O’Brien-Mullin showdown wasn’t even the only show of wannabe-macho bravado in U.S. politics this week, as Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee accused former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of “elbowing him in the kidneys” after he voted to oust McCarthy as speaker last month. “Thirty-five members of Congress, eight of us voted against him. I’m the one who did it, one of them who did it. He publicly called me out,” Burchett told reporters after the alleged incident (which McCarthy has denied.)
At this point, I think we’ve all evolved beyond the “If women ran the world, all would be peaceful!” line of thinking, but I do have to say that it’s hard to picture anyone but a cisgender, heterosexual white male actively bringing violence (or threats thereof) into their workplace and not being so much as slapped on the wrist for it. Can we just agree that the Senate is a less-than-ideal place to physically address your issues with your peers, and maybe pass a resolution to make therapy for men mandatory?