While speaking with a group of pastors in December, the leading Republican candidate for Senate in Missouri claimed that sex trafficking is the result of the sexual revolution in the 1960s and 1970s, despite the fact that sex trafficking has existed for as long as humanity has been keeping historical records.
“We have a human trafficking crisis in our state and in this city and in our country because people are willing to purchase women, young women, and treat them like commodities,” Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said in newly leaked audio first obtained by The Kansas City Star. “There is a market for it. Why is there? Because our culture has completely lost its way. The sexual revolution has led to exploitation of women on a scale that we would never have imagined, never have imagined.”
Hawley discussed his theory of sexual trafficking at a “Pastors and Pews” event hosted in December of last year and the audio was published by the Star on Wednesday.
In his speech, Hawley said it was important that sexual traffickers are held accountable, but said that the “false gospel of ‘anything goes'” must also be addressed.
“We must also deliver a message to our culture that the false gospel of ‘anything goes’ ends in this road of slavery,” Hawley said. “It ends in the slavery and the exploitation of the most vulnerable among us. It ends in the slavery and exploitation of young women. It will destroy our families.”
“You know what I’m talking about,” Hawley continued. “The 1960s, 1970s, it became commonplace in our culture among our cultural elites, Hollywood, and the media, to talk about, to denigrate the biblical truth about husband and wife, man and woman.”
The denigration of biblical teachings about marriage and family and “the appropriate place for sexual practice and expression” has led to the “terrible after-effects of this so-called revolution,” Hawley said. That revolution, he said, “was in fact… a great step back.”
“One of them is, one of those effects, is a crisis in our country that goes by the name of human trafficking,” he added.
When the Star reached out to Hawley’s campaign for comment, Hawley’s spokesperson reportedly doubled down, saying that Hawley had made himself clear.
“We now have a sex trafficking epidemic because too many men view women as objects for their own gratification and control. Hollywood and the media have promoted this attitude for decades, and it is wrong,” Hawley’s spokeswoman told the Star. “Attorney General Hawley regularly challenges audiences to get serious about sex trafficking by getting serious about changing male attitudes toward women, so that all women are treated with respect, equality, and dignity.”
Hawley isn’t the only candidate in the Missouri Republican primary who has railed against women breaking free from traditional gender roles.
Courtland Sykes, who is running against Hawley in the primary, released an official campaign statement last week demanding “a home cooked dinner at six every night” from his fiancée. In the statement, Sykes criticized feminists and painted a picture of how he believes his someday-daughters should live their lives.
“I don’t want them to grow up into career obsessed banshees who forego home life and children and the happiness of family to become nail-biting manphobic hell-bent feminist she devils who shriek from the tops of a thousand tall buildings they think they could they are [sic] think they could have leaped over in a single bound — had men not ‘suppressing them’ [sic],” Sykes wrote. “It’s just nuts. It always was.”
Hawley is likely to win the Republican primary, after which he will face current incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) in the general election. RealClearPolitics rates the seat as a toss-up, and the only polling so far, from a Republican-leaning polling firm, has Hawley up three percentage points.