March 12, 2006

A BRAWNY GIRLY MAN (via Mike Daley):

Questions for Harvey C. Mansfield: Of Manliness and Men (Interview by DEBORAH SOLOMON, 3/12/06, NY Times Magazine)

In your latest book, you bemoan the disappearance of manliness in our "gender neutral" society. How, exactly, would you define manliness?

My quick definition is confidence in a situation of risk. A manly man has to know what he is doing.

Hasn't technology lessened the need for risk taking, at least of the physical sort?

It has. But it hasn't removed it. Technology gives you the instruments, and social sciences give you the rules. But manliness is more a quality of the soul.

How does someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger stack up?

I would include him as a manly man.

Strange how little Mr. Mansfield understands the political/philosophical implications of his own thesis. Mr. Schwarzenegger is actually quite European/feminine, which is why he's so unwilling to challenge the statist status quo, when California could really use a governor who favored making economic life riskier.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 12, 2006 8:00 AM

First manly needs to be defined.

IMO it's personified by our western cowboy who isn't self aware, but is self confident that he knows what to do and then does it without thinking about it. A kind of Zen thing. In defeat and victory, his dignity remain intact.

I agree that Arnold is a euroweenie kind of guy. Perhaps all men who strive to body build to the extent that Schwarzenegger has, are compensating for a lack of self confidence. Who knows, but the excessive musculature, the preening, the posing and the unguents are off-putting, and as governor, he's trying to hard to be liked.

Posted by: erp at March 12, 2006 11:28 AM

"Manliness seeks and welcomes drama and prefers times of war, conflict, and risk."

Posted by: oj at March 12, 2006 11:34 AM

ERP, you don't have to look that far back. Most NCO's in Iraq would fit the image nicely. And after hearing about Brokeback Mtn., I'm not to sure about the current crop of cowboys. {;>)

Posted by: Genecis at March 12, 2006 3:23 PM

The following URL is for a video of mansfield debating at the subject "Is Manliness a Virtue in a Free Society?" at Dartmouth last october.

Posted by: Genecis at March 12, 2006 3:29 PM

"Is Manliness a Virtue in a Free Society?"
Harvey C. Mansfield, Professor of Government, Harvard University debates
Peter Travis, Professor of Anglo-Saxon and English Language, Dartmouth College 10/12/2005

From ISI's Cicero's Podium: A Great Issues Debate Series.

For video, script available.

Posted by: Genecis at March 12, 2006 3:40 PM

The Brokeback Boys are sheep-herders, not cowboys, but you're right about our soldiers. I don't have the privelege of knowing any of our military personally, but I've seen quite few at the airports when traveling and a finer looking bunch you couldn't find.

Posted by: erp at March 12, 2006 4:48 PM

The quotes I loved from the interview were:

1) I am beginning to wonder if you have ever spoken to a woman. Your ideas are so Victorian.

I have a young wife who grew up in the feminist revolution, and even though she is not a feminist, she wants to benefit from it. I wash the dishes, and I make the bed.

How young is she, exactly?

She's 60. I'm 73.


2)Yes, but fewer jobs depend on that sort of physical brawn as society becomes more technologically adept. Physical advantages are practically meaningless now that men are no longer hunter-gatherers.

I disagree with that.

When was the last time you did something that required physical strength?

It's true that nothing in my career requires physical strength, but in my relations with women, yes.

Such as?

Lifting things, opening things. My wife is quite small.

What do you lift?

Furniture. Not every night, but routinely.


Posted by: Mike Daley at March 12, 2006 10:28 PM

Another chapter in the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" anthology.

Posted by: erp at March 13, 2006 10:39 AM