What is Manliness?

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Abbey Normal, Mar 10, 2006.

  1. Abbey Normal
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    Abbey Normal Senior Member

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    Calling All Hombres
    A Harvard sage makes the case for manliness.

    BY NAOMI SCHAEFER RILEY
    Saturday, March 4, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

    CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--"Defend yourself." That's the lesson Harvey Mansfield drew for Larry Summers the week before Harvard's president was forced to resign. Mr. Mansfield, a 73-year-old government professor and conservative elder statesman of the university, went on to suggest that Mr. Summers's capitulation to those he offended (when he said women might be biologically less inclined to succeed in the hard sciences) is not simply a craven kowtow to political correctness, but proof, also, of a character flaw. Indeed, Mr. Mansfield continued with a mischievous smile, "He has apologized so much that he looks unmanly."

    Perhaps this seems like a quaint insult, but Mr. Mansfield means something very particular by it. He would like to return the notion of manliness to the modern lexicon. His new book, "Manliness" (manfully, no subtitle), argues that the gender-neutral society created by modern feminists has been bad both for women and men, and that it is time for men to rediscover, and women to appreciate, the virtue of manliness.

    ...

    Of all the enemies Mr. Mansfield has made, none has he more consistently provoked than feminists. It's been 20 years since he voted against the proposal for a women's studies major at Harvard (the only faculty member to do so), arguing that "it is not possible to study women except in relation to men." And he has not let up since.

    ...
    Mr. Mansfield's contention that women and men are not the same is now widely supported by social scientists. The core of his definition of manliness--"confidence in a risky situation"--is not so far from that of biologists and sociologists, who find men to be more abstract in their thinking and aggressive in their behavior than women, who are more contextual in their thinking and conciliatory in their behavior.

    Science is good for confirming what "common sense" already tells us, Mr. Mansfield allows, but beyond that, he has little use for it: "Science is a particular enemy of manliness. Manliness asserts something you can't scientifically prove, namely the importance of human beings." Science simply sees people as just another part of the natural world. But what manly men assert, according to Mr. Mansfield, is that "they are important and that their party, their country, their society, their group, whatever it may be, is important."
    ...

    Mr. Mansfield suggests that it is difficult to rid men of their tendency to seek out such battles. Yet he believes that the sexual revolution has been a surprisingly easy one. "Certainly," he notes, "there has been no massive resistance like the segregationists opposed to the civil-rights movement." He has been surprised by the extent to which men have adjusted to this current system, but believes the evidence that they will never do so completely is to be found all around us.

    Take housework. Mr. Mansfield cites surveys that show that despite their now equal capacity to be hired for jobs outside the home, American women still do two-thirds of the housework. He argues that this is not simply a hangover from our former oppressive patriarchy. Rather, he writes, it is evidence of manliness. "Men look down on women's work . . . not because they think it is dirty or boring or insignificant, which is often true of men's work; they look down on it because it is women's work."

    When it comes to the subject of housework, Mr. Mansfield has a decidedly different take from that of the late Betty Friedan. He accepts her point that keeping house in the modern era need not be a full-time job, and that boredom, or "the problem that has no name," is a natural byproduct of forcing educated women to remain in the home, even when there is not enough to keep them occupied mentally or physically. But he disapproves of her "demeaning of household work to . . . a necessary thing that you can't take any pride in." And though he doesn't accuse Friedan of doing so, Mr. Mansfield suggests that more radical feminists, like Simone de Beauvoir, built upon this notion "to demean motherhood as well."

    But what does this have to do with manliness? In our conversation and in his book, Mr. Mansfield often seems to want to discuss women more than men. Ultimately, he concludes that it is OK for men and women to be treated similarly in the workplace; but in private life, "it should be recognized that men will be manly and sometimes a bit bossy . . . and that women will recognize manliness with a smile by checking it while giving it something to do or, on occasion, by urging it on."

    ...
    Such women might well wonder, as I did, what we have to gain from encouraging men to do less of the housework. But Mr. Mansfield believes that women do instinctually realize the value of respecting manliness.
    ...

    Mr. Mansfield's other observations about the dating scene at Harvard are no less provocative. At a speech to students a couple of years ago, he observed that the only "gentlemen" at Harvard were conservatives and gay men. Conservatives, he believes, realize something's been lost in the recent social revolution; and gay men "have a certain greater awareness and perspicacity than other men." (He doesn't get into the subject of homosexuality in his book, and when I press him on this, he says, "If I had, I might have said something unpleasing to homosexuals and I'm taking on enough critics as it is.")

    "What you see today at Harvard and elsewhere are a lot of liberal males who are trying to make women happy by trying to treat them as if they weren't women." "And that," says the man who never misses the chance to open a door for a woman or help her put on her coat, "doesn't work very well." So why didn't he simply write a book on gentlemanliness? "Because before you're a gentleman, you have to be a man. Gentlemanliness is a refinement. It presupposes that you have a certain superiority over women, but teaches you how to exercise it. It also teaches you that women are superior in their ways."

    Link to complete article: http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110008046
     
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  2. Nienna
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    Nienna Senior Member

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    Abbey, I got all excited when I read the first part of this. It's so weird, because I'm reading a chapter called "Save the Males" in my current book.

    OOps! My oven timer is beeping... I'll reply more later.
     
  3. Nienna
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    Nienna Senior Member

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    I love this line.
    I love this guy.
     
  4. Nienna
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    Nienna Senior Member

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    I'm reading The War Against Boys (it's taking me forever!) A major point in the chapter called "Save the Males" is that repression of emotions is not necessarily a bad thing. There's a guy named "Pollack, who is a champion of emotional expressiveness, instructs parents, 'Let boys know they don't need to be sturdy oaks.' To encourage boys to be stoical, says Pollack, is to harm them. 'The boy is often pushed to act like a man, to be the one who is confident and unflinching. No boy should be called upon to be the tough one. No boy should be harmed in this way' " ... The author goes on to contend that "These reform-minded experts should seriously consider the possibility that American children may in fact need more, not less, self-control and less, not more, self-involvement." (p.154)

    The concern for boys seemed to arise from the desire to curb their aggressiveness. In the wake of the Columbine disaster, psychologists have stressed getting boys to be in touch with their feelings, to express their feelings. This, supposedly, will help them to be less aggressive. But these psychologists seem to ignore the idea that, perhaps, boys' feelings are NATURALLY aggressive, and encouraging emotional expression will only encourage them to act MORE aggressively. The method they employ to discourage aggression is defeating their own cause; to remove boys' stereotypical stoicism is to remove the safety from the gun of aggression.
     
  5. Nienna
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    Nienna Senior Member

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    Am I the only one interested in this topic?
     
  6. Said1
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    Said1 VIP Member

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    Apparently.

    Although I'm not sure I get your point. Are in the "suck it up" club?
     
  7. Trigg
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    Trigg Active Member

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    I like the "mans man" type. Good examples are Mathew McConnehy and Sean Connery. Muscles and chest hair (not a throw back but not waxed either)Manly men who will stand up for me and make me feel safe.

    Side note: We were at a concert years ago and a drunk was leaning all over a small woman in front of us. The man with her wasn't saying a thing to the drunk. I finally told my husband to tell the guy to get lost and quit bugging her, she was very gratefull that someone stood up for her.
     
  8. Nienna
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    Nienna Senior Member

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    :confused:

    The point I was trying to make was that "manliness" is real, it is different from "womanliness," and that it should be recognized and celebrated in our culture.
     
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  9. Abbey Normal
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    Abbey Normal Senior Member

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    I suppose the metrosexual male is an outgrowth of the move away from traditional manliness?

    One of the reasons I enjoy watching the show 24, is that there is no shortage of manly men to watch. Men who take action, who have what the author above describes as having "confidence in a risky situation". The lily-livered President of this season is a counterpoint to the other men, and is at times difficult to watch because of it.
     
  10. fuzzykitten99
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    fuzzykitten99 Senior Member

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    oh, i couldn't agree more. Tim is pretty 'manly', and has gotten even more so since he started working in the industry he is in about 7 years ago. He is sensitive and is a gentleman (most times), yet is strong and stands up for me, even to his parents and relatives!!

    I always tell people I married a man, not a woman, and I expect him to act as such, however there are some things I won't tolerate, and he knows what those are, though he needs a reminder every so often.
     

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