The IWF was proud to play host yesterday, along with our friends at the Hudson Institute, to Harvey Mansfield, Harvard government professor and author of the book that wins this year’s prize for least politically correct title: “Manliness.”
“[Mansfield] relates a story he seems to love telling: A magazine at Harvard called and asked for his opinion of a new colleague, and Mansfield told the reporter, ‘What impressed all of us about him was his manliness.’ And there was a pause . . . and the reporter said, ‘Could you think of another word?'”
That’s the sorry state of manliness in today’s androgynous world.
Here’s an excerpt from Kay Hymowitz’s review of “Manliness” for Commentary:
“Mansfield concedes that the manly man is not always appealing. He can be willful and boastful, and patronizing toward women. But these annoyances are part of a package that makes the average Joe capable of greater heroism and command than the average Josephine. More open to facing risk, he is more likely to gain and wield power and to make his mark in the world. There can be manly women-Elizabeth I and Margaret Thatcher come to mind-but they are rare.
“Male power is not a social artifact, Mansfield argues, but a reflection of our nature, as much a part of biological reality as testosterone itself. This explains the failure of the androgynous utopia promised by the 1960’s. Even after decades of re-educating the young, the line between male and female activities has been ‘blurred’ but not erased. Men, he points out, still drive trucks, fly planes, fix cars, and mow lawns. Women still teach kindergarten, empty hospital bedpans, and clean the kitchen….
“Mansfield hardly imagines that we can return to a society where men go off to be manly and women stay at home. Instead, he argues, we should revive a core distinction of liberalism: the divide between the public and the private. Sexual stereotypes would be discouraged in public life, but in private we “should admit that they are true”-and that they are what makes for mutual interdependence. The fact, for example, that women are physically weaker than men requires women to be ‘more aware, more realistic.’ The two sexes need each other in order to be fully themselves-and to be truly free”
That’s Conservative Man. Now for Liberal Man, in a gushfest from The New Yorker on hot French menswear designer Hedi Slimane, who like Mansfield, has a “man” in his surname. (To get an eyeful of Slimane and the kind of duds that the androgynous-utopia set thinks your husband or boyfriend should be wearing, click here.)
Here’s the New Yorker’s take on Slimane:
“It is often said that he has transformed the male silhouette. Slimane’s clothes are generally made for and modelled by whip-thin young men, and among the tastemaking classes-rock stars, magazine editors, sugar daddies-the enthusiasm for his slender cuts has helped the scrawny lad displace the beefy gent as the body type of the age….
“The cavalcade of models was purposeful and persistent. They all had the same slicked-back hair and some variation on the refugee-in-his-awkward-stage build. Many of them had improbably large ears, including one whose ears looked like prosthetics. The clothes were strange and beautiful. There were keyhole coats, satin trenches, billowy trousers, cummerbunds that looked like corsets: even to the untrained eye, everything seemed flawlessly made. To that same untrained eye, however, a great deal of it seemed more appropriate for a woman than for a man.”
So which will it be, gals, a beefy guy you can lean on or a jug-eared, delayed-adult whippet in a cummerbund that looks like a corset? Whom would you rather have around when a tire on your car blows or a burglar bursts into your home. Manly Man or the Transformed Man beloved of the “tastemakers”–take your pick.