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Manliness

Publisher: Yale University Press • 304 • 2007 pages

Here at last is the first comprehensive study — and unapologetic defense — of manliness, refuting the feminist propaganda that dominates popular culture’s portrayal of men and masculinity. Harvard professor Harvey C. Mansfield examines manliness from a huge variety of perspectives, including vulgar aggression, assertive manliness, philosophical manliness, and — as is most needed in these effeminate, anti-manly times — manliness as a virtue.

Drawing innumerable absorbing illustrations and examples from science, literature, and philosophy, Mansfield sketches a revealing and all-encompassing portrait of manliness — as boldly and nobly seeking and welcoming drama, preferring times of war, conflict, and risk, and bringing change or restoring order when it must be done. Manly men in their assertiveness, says Mansfield, raise and deal with uncomfortable and difficult issues, bringing them to the fore and making them public and political instead of sweeping them under the rug.

Mansfield also embarks upon a wide-ranging tour of masculine stereotypes — from Achilles and Plato to Nietzsche and Hemingway, all the way up to the politically motivated and manipulative caricatures purveyed by modern feminism. Formulating a reasoned defense of the noble quality of manliness, Mansfield urges men — and women also — to understand and accept manliness, and to restore it to its rightful and honorable place in our society.

Why society needs manliness to survive and prosper:

  • Why a defense of manliness requires that a man look a woman in the eye and tell her that she is, yes, inferior in certain important respects
  • Why the weakness of women in comparison to men need not be a position of inferiority, but of strength when joined with manly enterprise
  • How feminism has made women think that they are unfaithful to the cause of women if they do not behave like men
  • Aristotle’s provocative view of manliness as a habit, easy for some to acquire and difficult for many others
  • Why, in Aristotle’s vision of the perfect city, male authority is so important
  • Manliness: why it seeks risk, not comfort and convenience
  • Why Tocqueville maintained that manliness was the remedy for democratic despotism
  • John Locke: how his vision of limited government requires a manly spirit of determination to stand up for one’s rights
  • Aristotle’s distinction between the instinct to protect one’s turf and the virtue of courage
  • Nietzsche’s vision of manliness: why he equated it with truthfulness
  • Feminism: its origins on the Left and clear, unacknowledged debt to Marxism
  • Why our gender-neutral society needs to readopt the distinction between public and private
  • How our society should frankly and unapologetically acknowledge the difference between men and women, without engaging in legal discrimination
  • The gender gap in politics: why it is so wrongheaded to assume that if more women ran for office, the gap would disappear
  • Why man’s worth is not self-evident, and must be established and rearticulated by individual men
  • Communism: how it made a covert place for manliness disguised as “revolutionary consciousness”
  • The revolution that created our current gender-neutral society: how it was inspired and led by women of the Left
  • How feminist women did not want equality in order to cooperate with men and share equally the burdens of society, but equality for the sake of independence and autonomy from men
  • Why radical feminists regard love with such deep suspicion and even distaste
  • The essential connection between the two male qualities, low and high, of aggression and single-mindedness
  • How all the different strains of feminism today are working to keep women independent of men — and why this is fundamentally self-defeating
  • How the treatment of boys and girls in school reflects the larger society’s prevailing notions of democracy

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