Skip to comments.A question of manliness
Posted on 07/14/2006 8:28:57 AM PDT by fgoodwin
A question of manliness
By MARTIN NEWLAND, Daily Mail
07/12/06 - News section
There is, apparently, a resurgence of manliness in America. Superman has returned to the big screen and unshaven, testosterone-charged film stars such as Colin Farrell no longer look socially marginalised.
The A To Z Of Manliness, a compendium of tips on such matters as how to punch properly, is number two on the New York Times bestseller list, while a rash of academic books on the importance of real men have added fuel to the fire. The Boston Globe recently summed up the phenomenon: "We're in the middle of a Menaissance."
Years of feminism, which insists on the absolute interchangeability of the traditional roles of man and woman, are giving way to a reassertion of the male attribute of machismo, it is claimed. The metrosexual, that urbanised, sensitive, emotionally and physically androgynous model of 21st-century manhood, is dead.
What is manliness?
All hail the modern caveman. But wait a minute. Before we even ask what kind of man modern women really want, how exactly are we defining manliness? My dictionary lists "courage, valour and energy" as key characteristics of the manly man. But by that measure, my wife, who has gone through the horror of childbirth and who runs a family of six, is more of a man than me.
Nor can we equate Superman with Colin Farrell as fellow icons of the new American manliness. Superman is discreet about his gifts, he is modest, he wears a suit when not saving the world (when he opts for the kiss curl and tights). Mr Farrell is an indiscreet wildman. Manliness should not be confused with machismo. I will give you an example.
Years ago, I was on the family ranch in Argentina with my uncle, leaning on a fence, the other side of which stood a huge Brahman bull. The bull was in a tetchy mood because his testicles were dragging along the floor and had become infected. My uncle, with a twinkle in his eye, handed a spray can of disinfectant to his foreman, a strutting, mustachioed gaucho, and asked him to apply it to the infected area.
A look of horror flitted across the foreman's eyes, but then he thrust out his chin, squared his shoulders and, before my uncle could stop him, jumped the fence and sprayed the bull before walking away nonchalantly.
"Que macho (what a man)," I exclaimed. "That wasn't macho," said my uncle. "That was stupid. A real man would have told me to f*** off." Machismo gets you stabbed in bars "for looking at my bird", or flattened by the 10: 15 to Euston during a drunken game of chicken with your mates.
Manliness is not braggadocio. It is stoicism, self-respect, decisiveness, assertiveness. Of course, advocates of the Menaissance may argue that we shouldn't be too concerned about what kind of a man women want these days. Isn't that, they would say, the way we arrived at simpering metrosexuals desperate to please their other halves?
And yet it's instructive to consider that a woman's understanding of manliness tends to be very different from a man's. My wife and daughter are fixated by the American drama Lost, in which a group of people stranded on a remote island after a plane crash battle to stay alive against sinister forces. They frequently confer on which male characters are the sexiest, and in doing so make the perfect distinction between machismo and manliness.
The men they say they would fall in love with are not the washboard-stomached firebrands, but rather the ones most able to protect them and provide for them in those inhospitable surroundings.
These characters are possessed of a calm stoicism, and a desire to look after the weakest first. This judgment by my wife and daughter does not indicate fluffy submissiveness, but cool pragmatism. Their heroes are not to be found blubbing on a football pitch like half the England team, or taking part in the orchestrated grieving that has become an integral part of British national life.
It is the atavistic desire to provide for those you love that forms the basic building block of manliness. It has existed since the physically stronger sex travelled the plains in search of meat for the family and it continued until the rise of feminism in the 1960s, a movement which would have us believe that men and women are biological and emotional clean slates, each possessed of identical and interchangeable faculties when it comes to work, life and family.
This is the lunacy that allows women fighter pilots to get aloft even though a man is more effective in combat because his stronger frame better protects him from G-forces. It is the feminist orthodoxy that renders my wife faintly embarrassed when she owns up to being a housewife. It is the notion that children do not need fathers.
'Feminists bearing pitchforks'
Up and down America, feminists bearing torches and pitchforks are on the trail of Harvey Mansfield, a Yale University professor whose book, Manliness, laments: "We are in the process of making the English language gender neutral, and 'manliness', the quality of one gender, or rather of one sex, seems to describe the essence of the enemy we are attacking, the evil we are eradicating."
He continues: "Feminism needs to come to terms with manliness. I think women are confused about what they want men to be and that leads to male confusion."
Mansfield believes there are stark differences between the sexes, and that they should be celebrated. If those manly attributes are hard to pin down, most women tend to know them when they see them.
A straw poll of the wives and mothers in my small Kent community offered up the following characteristics. A real man is chivalrous and emotionally robust and mature. He is modest, does not wear his heart on his sleeve, and is dutiful to wife or lover, and to family. A real man provides for and protects those he loves.
All those attributes that allowed men to drag down mammoths for their families and communities in prehistoric times - aggression, competitiveness, decisiveness - still survive and govern the most basic aspects of sexual attraction, marriage and child rearing.
This does not make a man superior, but underpins the fact that men and women complement each other, bringing unique gifts to the business of ensuring the survival of the species.
It was the caveman who went about the rather unsophisticated business of killing the mammoth and dragging it home, but it was the cavewoman who turned it into food and clothes.
Feminism, as Prof Mansfield suggests, has sought to eradicate one vital side of this equation. The result is a confused hotchpotch of duties and responsibilities, and the emergence of what has been untidily dubbed the metrosexual male - tieless, depilated, sarong-clad and permanently engaged in the exhausting business of anticipating feminine disgruntlement.
So what hopes for a Menaissance in this country? Although I have serious doubts about America's ability to distinguish between manliness and machismo, it is still a far more manly place than Britain.
Just look at our cultural icons. We worship the cry-baby Beck-ham, hairless, smothered in costly unguents, neurotically self-aware. We hang on to every syllable uttered by the mindless, spoiled and usually gay men in the Big Brother house. The Yanks have Superman, Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Here, the Tory leader makes sage pronouncements on the evils of chocolate oranges and four-wheel-drive vehicles, not to mention the respect and deference due to hooded youths as they happy-slap their way across Britain.
And there are greater cultural differences which mean that the so-called Menaissance may be a long time coming to these shores. First, while America is still a Christian country, Britain is post-Christian. As the historian Michael Burleigh has said, the Anglican Church is little more than an 'echo chamber' for the latest purely secular moral, political and social trends.
In the Christian tradition, the man has a set of immutable duties towards wife and family that cannot be overlooked, and these duties rest on the ethics of personal responsibility, morality and, overriding all this, a responsibility to provide for the family. How dramatically those duties have been eroded.
Secondly, in Britain we have lived for more than 50 years under the umbrella of an all-powerful welfare state. This is a good thing in that it protects the weakest, but bad in that our taxation and redistributive structures have served to stamp out that key element of manliness - self-betterment and provision for those you are responsible for.
Why bother working? Why bother marrying and remaining faithful to wife and family if a single mother on benefits garners more than a low-paid married couple with one child, both of whom work?
In meritocratic America, where welfare is harder to get, self-betterment is a constituent part of staying fed and housed. Men cannot afford to be feckless. If they don't help themselves, no one will.
And America, it must be remembered, is a country which still venerates male icons: heroes such as Jim Bowie are loved because the nation's history is force-fed to the young in schools.
Here, the devaluation of our history curriculum and the rejection of our imperial past, which still forms a deep part of the national psyche, have left our young men with no sense of heroes and heroism.
And yet there are occasional green shoots pushing through the surface in the battle to reassert manliness in Britain. Much has been made of the best-selling tome The Dangerous Book For Boys, which in its introduction says that "in this age of video games and mobile phones there must still be a place for knots, tree houses and stories of incredible courage".
The book seeks to allow fathers and sons to enjoy enterprises such as the building of go-karts. I remember the authors being quizzed on Radio 4 by Mariella Frostrup, who, it soon became apparent, was somewhat hostile to the notion that the activities described should be the sole preserve of males.
The authors Conn and Hal Iggulden were sent into parox-isms of denial that their book was in any way sexist. I remember thinking that if you write a book about manly things, you should be ready to defend it in a manly way.
Their response should have been: "Boys and girls are different, Mariella. Get over it." Instead they were borne under by the sheer weight of BBC political correctness. What a pair of wets.
The sad thing is that Mariella represents the consensus. A while ago, a young lad came to play with one of my sons. They spent the whole day in pitched battles with toy guns.
When his parents arrived to take him home, their faces dropped. They told us they did not allow him to play with guns, and marched him off for a dinner of nut cutlets and yoghurt. Poor little fellow.
The feminist lobby, which has achieved much for women over the past 40 years, must take its foot off the accelerator. It is established beyond doubt that men and women are equal in all fields ranging from human dignity to employment rights, but this must not be allowed to evolve into the idea that men and women are the same.
Men must learn to reclaim manliness, not in the machismo mould of previous generations, but in a modern incarnation that will serve as an anchor in the shifting sands of today's gender politics.
D*mn' Straight. Great Post! Thanks!
Froufrou, it just may be that your husband's work is actually worth twice as much as yours. A BA is just a ticket to ride, you have to provide the value.
The idea that equal employment rights is the same as equal pay is absurd. Give it some thought.
It ain't this crap, either.
"A BA is just a ticket to ride,"
You want fries with that?
Seems to me you are asking of the lagnaipe.
lagniappe: In LA, a trifle given to tradesmen; a gratuity.
Sorry, I am evidently missing your point. But, you are no doubt correct about my husband; his work is very skilled, whereas I am truly just a bean-counter.
If you are overqualified for your current job, have you considered another position? Do you both / either / neither have CPAs?
Your situation is unfortunate, but is the difference in education the only thing that differentiates your qualifications vs. your husband (other than your gender)?
My point was; I asked for nothing. Your implication was that I might be interested in fries. The tone of your first message was that somehow you should have an equal pay to your husband, especially since you had a BA.
If "bean-counter" = CPA, brush up your resume and go after that job which will satisfy your monetary goals.
Hubs is a facility supervisor - he's the go-to person for any and everything and truly he deserves his pay, since he's on-call every other weekend. Mine is a desk job and neither of us has a CPA. It's true that mine is far less demanding.
I was remarking on the tone of the article and the implication that women are equal but not. It's one or the other.
The tone of the article was just the opposite. Men and women are equal in the respect that each was created in the image of God. However, God expressed specific attributes in men and other attributes in women. Neither has second rank.
The feminist movement has had an ally in the media and entertainment businesses to emasculate males, defined as removing male vigor, not the castrating concept. Altho IMO many feminists would be satisfied with the later. Admitting that men have masculine traits and women are wired to have feminine traits has nothing to do with equality under Holy law or governmental law.
Therefore, your proposition of it being one or the other does not apply to genger differences.
Boys are born to seek danger, take risks, and be the hero. To use Frank Eldridge's line, No little girls imagine a game in which thousands die on a battle field of blood. And , by the same token, boys don't hold pretend tea parties.
They sure have. Among other things, lots of man-bashing.
I've yet to be on a campus where most women weren't worrying about some aspect of combining marriage, children, and a career. I've yet to find one where many men were worrying about the same thing.
What has the women's movement learned from Geraldine Ferraro's candidacy for vice president? Never get married.
The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.
Also, many Clinton soccer moms turned our young boys into little sissies.
Hvae you never studied Sociology? Because you just took imprinting out of the picture. There are plenty of boys who not only 'do' tea parties, but lots of other things like mommy. I'd say you are stereotyping just a bit...
I can't truly tell from the article what the guy wants us to take away from reading it. The whole movement was sold with the package 'equal pay for equal work' which we all know is b.s. since women have wombs. This is where someone will tell me about men taking maternity leave...
Tea parties are not what boys wake up on Sat morning wanting to do. If those plenty of boys "do" tea parties, then they are lost for now and will grow up wounded in the soul.
None of this has anything to do with little boys not liking their mothers. Boys love their mothers. Mothers nurture them, console them, and civilize them.
Sociology, as taught in the modern unversities, is a poor substitute for the Bible if you want to understand the true natue of man and woman.
I give a rat's arse about maternity leave as an argument for the inequality of salaries. Not all men make the same salary, so what.
If you don't like the level of your income, bust your hump and make what you want. Only in America do you have the right AND the opportunity do do that.
I could not possibly agree more.