Philosopher Christina Hoff Sommers’ review of Harvey Mansfield’s new book, Manliness, is a tour de force. Here is how it begins: “One of the least visited memorials in Washington is a waterfront statue commemorating the men who died on the Titanic. Seventy-four percent of the women passengers survived the April 15, 1912, calamity, while 80 percent of the men perished. Why? Because the men followed the principle ‘women and children first.’
“The monument, an 18-foot granite male figure with arms outstretched to the side, was erected by “the women of America” in 1931 to show their gratitude. The inscription reads: ‘To the brave men who perished in the wreck of the Titanic. . . . They gave their lives that women and children might be saved.’
“Today, almost no one remembers those men. Women no longer bring flowers to the statue on April 15 to honor their chivalry. The idea of male gallantry makes many women nervous, suggesting (as it does) that women require special protection. It implies the sexes are objectively different. It tells us that some things are best left to men. Gallantry is a virtue that dare not speak its name.”
In her favorable review, Hoff Sommers discusses Mansfield’s view of Nietzsche’s baleful (and ironic, given his low opinion of women) influence in the development of feminist ideology (he called Simone de Beauvoir “Nietzsche in drag”), the way men become gentlemen, and Eve Ensler’s “Vagina Monologues.” It’s a long but sparkling review, required reading for anyone who cares about the feminist-mandated decline of manliness.