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Decadence draped in red, white, and blue

Playboy-lite for “conservative dads” is not the way to fight the left

Riley Gaines speaks outside the NCAA Convention in San Antonio on Jan. 12, 2023. Associated Press/Photo by Darren Abate

Decadence draped in red, white, and blue
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What did you get your favorite conservative dad for Christmas this year? Maybe a snazzy addition to his hunting or fishing gear, if he’s an outdoorsy sort? Maybe a great devotional book or novel he hasn’t read yet, if he’s a reader? Maybe a gift card to take the family out for dinner? Or maybe one of those cool bullet pens that comes in a box made to look like a gun case?

Well, one company thought those ideas were fine, but what the conservative dad in your life really needed was a calendar. Specifically, a calendar full of scantily clad, self-styled conservative women.

As Dave Barry used to say, we swear we are not making this up. The calendar is put out by Conservative Dad’s Ultra Right Beer, a brand created in reaction to the “wokeifying” of brands like Bud Light. This resembles similar ephemeral marketing stunts in right-wing media, like the Daily Wire’s “un-woke” razors and chocolate. But at least in the case of beer, razors, and chocolate, the product for sale is at worst a silly gimmick (although the ad for the razors was uncomfortably suggestive). 

Sadly, that is not the case for this company’s idea of a “Conservative Dad’s” calendar (which we are not linking to on purpose), which features big female names like Riley Gaines, Dana Loesch, and Josie the Redheaded Libertarian in various kinds of poses, some more immodest than others. Gaines is featured on the cover and is clearly meant to be the main draw, also featured for two of the months. Naturally, because she’s a competitive swimmer, she’s wearing a bikini. Other women pose in or on the edge of a bathtub. One heavily airbrushed “sneak peek” photo shows a woman applying thick lipstick, wearing a deliberately insufficient bra. 

What are these people thinking? Well, the ad copy from another preview image explains in their own words: “Beer companies used to be about great beer, American patriotism, fun, fast cars, and beautiful real women. Woke culture is working overtime to destroy these things. At Conservative Dad’s, we’re bringing back all these things, but better than ever!” While major corporations are giving our money to brands that “oppose conservative values,” these guys assure us they are “doing the opposite.” 

It would be distasteful enough if this calendar was being marketed to conservative men generally. But the fact that it’s being marketed to dads is especially shocking.

But some other conservative women aren’t buying it. “Hate it,” says Allie Beth Stuckey, in a long X post praising some of the featured women for their advocacy but strongly disapproving their choice to participate. The author who goes under the pen name “Peachy Keenan” has some harsher words: “When you’re a ‘Conservative Dad’ you’re allowed to ogle 23 [year] olds in their underwear because the girls—get this—are also conservatives so it’s fine.”

It would be distasteful enough if this calendar was being marketed to conservative men generally. But the fact that it’s being marketed to dads is especially shocking. The explicitly named target audience is men who have wives, who may have daughters. This is what they’re being encouraged to hang on their wall and look at all month, all year. To make things even worse, some of the women are themselves married, including Riley Gaines. It’s especially disheartening to see Gaines lend her image to this product, given her costly and courageous public stand against trans activism. She is an admirable, beautiful woman who has used her talent to set an example for little girls everywhere. But the example she and the other women in this calendar are setting is anything but “conservative.”

So how did this product even come to exist? What are the creators trying to do here? In another insightful X analysis, Jon Stokes suggests that perhaps conservatives “want their old sinners back.” In a world that has forgotten what men and women even are, the new sexual deviancy is so completely alien that it’s impossible to have any subversive fun with it. Hence all the copy about “American patriotism” and “real beautiful women.” It’s like a naughtier, C-grade bid for some of the same “remember when” vibes that made a film like Top Gun: Maverick such a smash hit.

But even from a cynical perspective, this is a pathetic attempt, doomed to fail. You can’t fight alien deviance with Playboy lite. You can’t fight the new decadence with old decadence, draped in red, white, and blue. As Stokes aptly puts it, you must instead “fight conviction with conviction.”

Clashes like this might seem frivolous and fleeting, but they serve as important markers for those of us who care about a conservatism that actually conserves something. Increasingly, Christian conservatism and secular “conservatism” are going to have to part ways. A surface-level shared alliance against “wokeness” is not enough. Conservatives can and must do better. Especially conservative dads.

Bethel McGrew

Bethel McGrew is a math Ph.D. and widely published freelance writer. Her work has appeared in First Things, National Review, The Spectator, and many other national and international outlets. Her Substack, Further Up, is one of the top paid newsletters in “Faith & Spirituality” on the platform. She has also contributed to two essay anthologies on Jordan Peterson. When not writing social criticism, she enjoys writing about literature, film, music, and history.


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