Hug Your Sons, Dads

Indrani Sen
Published in
3 min readOct 23, 2020

Photo: Lucas Uebel/Getty Images

I Miss Big, Wet, Embarrassing Kisses From My Father,” John DeVore wrote yesterday on his Medium site, Humungus.

It was a one-day-later reflection on a truly awful tweet—one that is (thankfully) already fading into the morass of toxicity that this election cycle has unleashed. John Cardillo, a right-wing pundit, captioned a photo of Joe Biden hugging his son with the question: “Does this look like an appropriate father/son interaction to you?”

“The message is both muddy and crystal clear,” DeVore writes:

Cardillo is plainly suggesting there is something… off… about these two men. He’s also mumbling another message under his breath: love is weakness.

I like to think of myself as a dirtbag sommelier so I also detected notes of homophobia in Cardillo’s obnoxious little one-liner. He’s singing a sad jingle to the macho faithful: any physical affection between men is… gay.

This is a bad thing, of course. To be gay. To love who you love.

This idea is brutally harmful, especially to those who espouse it. As the author and essayist Thomas McBee wrote in Forge last year, “The stubborn notion that there is one monolithic, ‘natural’ kind of masculinity — and the enforcement of its unyielding rules — has been blamed for an alarming litany of health risks in men, including suicide and heart failure. Part of the problem is that ‘traditional’ or dominant masculinity has as its central tenet the notion that expressing emotion or, crucially, asking for help, is ‘feminine’ and therefore ‘weak.’ Men who subscribe to traditional ideas of masculinity are less likely, therefore, to seek help, and may even not be treated properly when they do.”

Of course, Cardillo’s ugly tweet was swiftly ratioed (“The roasting was hot and relentless,”…

Indrani Sen
Writer for

Editorial director at Medium, mom, gardener, cook. Formerly at Quartz.