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Harvey C. Mansfield
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    This book invites-no, demands-a response from its readers. It is impossible not to be drawn in to the provocative (often contentious) discussion that Harvey Mansfield sets before us. This is the first comprehensive study of manliness, a quality both bad and good, mostly male, often intolerant, irrational, and ambitious. Our "gender-neutral society" does not like it but cannot get rid of it.Drawing from science, literature, and philosophy, Mansfield examines the layers of manliness, from vulgar aggression, to assertive manliness, to manliness as virtue, and to philosophical manliness. He shows that manliness seeks and welcomes drama, prefers times of war, conflict, and risk, and brings change or restores order at crucial moments. Manly men in their assertiveness raise issues, bring them to the fore, and make them public and political-as for example, the manliness of the women's movement.After a wide-ranging tour from stereotypes to Hemingway and Achilles, to Nietzsche, to feminism, and to Plato, the author returns to today's problem of "unemployed manliness." Formulating a reasoned defense of a quality hardly obedient to reason, he urges men, and especially women, to understand and accept manliness, and to give it honest and honorable employment.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12993-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Chapter One The Gender—Neutral Society
    (pp. 1-21)

    Today the very wordmanlinessseems quaint and obsolete. We are in the process of making the English language gender-neutral, and manliness, the quality of one gender, or rather, of one sex, seems to describe the essence of the enemy we are attacking, the evil we are eradicating. Recently I had a call from the alumni magazine at the university where I work, asking me to comment on a former professor of mine now being honored. Responding too quickly, I said: “What impressed all of us about him was his manliness.” There was silence at the other end of the...

  5. Chapter Two Manliness as Stereotype
    (pp. 22-49)

    It is a big change we make, a heavy responsibility we accept, when we go to gender neutrality and abandon manliness. In doing so we call manliness a stereotype. The wordstereotypeis a term of science, but it is also a word at large in our speech, used disparagingly to designate a construction of folklore or alleged common sense. When we call manliness a stereotype, we invoke or imply the authority of science. What does science say about manliness?

    To support the change to the new society we call upon science to supply us with a study, for in...

  6. Chapter Three Manly Assertion
    (pp. 50-81)

    Let us now leave the gray, flat, featureless domain of science to look for something new. Our science rather clumsily confirms the stereotype about manliness, the stereotype that stands stubbornly in the way of the gender-neutral society. But we already knew before science told us that men are more aggressive than women: is there also something to be learned in this fact? In this chapter I will elevate manliness from aggression to assertion and thereby discover its connection to politics.

    Aggressionis a vague word because it applies to any action that increases your power.Poweris a vaguer word...

  7. Chapter Four Manly Nihilism
    (pp. 82-121)

    In manly assertion there is more than a little drama. The old man and Achilles call attention to themselves and their feats. Hemingway and Homer make sure that the stories of their heroes are exciting, their speeches impressive. An assertive speech is a claim on us to vindicate a wrong and to make things right; it’s a claim to justice. It may not be directly political, but even Hemingway’s old man, not a political type, wants a world in which his knowledge and deed are honored. The manly man, as we say, “makes a statement.” It’s a statement of significance;...

  8. Chapter Five Womanly Nihilism
    (pp. 122-162)

    In the 1970s manly nihilism came to American women. It did not come directly from Nietzsche, who, though not a woman-hater, was hardly a friend of feminism. It had to come indirectly through Simone de Beauvoir and others who inspired the women’s movement. Nietzsche was on the right, and he looked for manliness exclusively in males; but strangely enough these seemingly fatal mistakes did not condemn him. They could be shrugged off as inessential. The women’s movement, never fussy or fastidious, took ideas from other men who were not favorable to the cause of women (or otherwise misbehaved with women)—...

  9. Chapter Six The Manly Liberal
    (pp. 163-189)

    The revolution that made the gender-neutral society was not led by liberals but by women of the left, inspired as I have argued, by a womanly nihilism. Their heroine was Simone de Beauvoir, and behind her, Marx and Nietzsche. The feminists discussed in chapter 5—Firestone, Greer, Millett, and Friedan—were highly critical of liberals and of liberal principles as well. Although the women’s movement followed close upon the civil rights movement, it took a very different path. Civil rights leaders in the 1960s, above all Martin Luther King, called on America to be true to itself, to live by...

  10. Chapter Seven Manly Virtue
    (pp. 190-228)

    The gender-neutral society has for its goal the transcendence of gender or sex. Gender-neutral transcendence means that society as a whole and in all its members will not automatically give you a plus or a minus on account of your sex. The humanity we share in common will become the standard for behavior, enabling each of us to transcend his or her sex and live as much as possible without regard to sex. Of course everyone has a sex, so becoming neutral as to sex requires that we overcome our own sex. The gender-neutral society, though far advanced in aspiration,...

  11. Conclusion Unemployed Manliness
    (pp. 229-244)

    I am not going to end this book by giving out pointers on how to live, though I suppose I could. I could tell young women not to disparage motherhood in the hearing of a man they want to attract. If you do, you will make a man think his mother is being disparaged and he will compare you to her—just what you want to avoid. I could tell young men that women want to be taken seriously almost as much as they want to be loved. To take women seriously you must first take yourself seriously and after...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 245-269)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 270-280)
  14. Index
    (pp. 281-289)