Conservative Cult of Manliness

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Oh, the emotional and social burden of being born with a penis.

From a review of conservative academic Harvey C. Mansfield’s Manliness:

… As the weaker sex, he explains to the Post, women are “not in a position to ask for something directly. They’re either obliged to smile a lot and persuade, or make a scene.”

Then there’s this, from the book: “To resist rape a woman needs more than martial arts and more than the police; she needs a certain ladylike modesty enabling her to take offense at unwanted encroachment.” He even trots out this old nugget, apparently in full seriousness: “In my experience it is difficult for a man who is attracted to a woman not to find her cute, rather than intimidating, when she gets angry.”

Mansfield’s opus frequently borders on self-parody. In fact, it crosses the border on the first page of the preface: “I was going to call this book ‘a modest defense of manliness,’ but manly men are not modest, and I do not want to sound like a wimp or to begin by looking down on manly men.” (John Wayne never had to tell us he didn’t want to sound like a wimp.) …

On one of my very first web pages I said there’s nothing less masculine than worrying about your masculinity.

Gender qualities for me are sensual treats like color and fragrance.

And I like role-playing. But I know Alex doesn’t need for me to hold the door open. Often she’s just obliging me when she pauses to give me a moment to grab the handle.

Mansfield’s wife reports he does the laundry: some fantasies are best left in books.


Jeez, they let anyone teach at Harvard these days! I gather he’s a political philosopher. He should read Silvia Federici.

Perhaps his earlier work was a bit less silly.

It isn’t unusual for a university to be a haven for cranks. Fair enough since one person’s crank is another’s sage.

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