Harvey C. Mansfield: Of Manliness and Men

Historians in the News

Q: As a staunch neoconservative and the author of a new feminism-bashing book called ''Manliness,'' how are you treated by your fellow government professors at Harvard? Look, if I only consorted with conservatives, I would be by myself all the time.

So your generally left-leaning colleagues are willing to talk to you? People listen to me, but they don't pay attention to what I say. I should punch them out, but I don't.

In your latest book, you bemoan the disappearance of manliness in our ''gender neutral'' society. How, exactly, would you define manliness? My quick definition is confidence in a situation of risk. A manly man has to know what he is doing.

Hasn't technology lessened the need for risk taking, at least of the physical sort? It has. But it hasn't removed it. Technology gives you the instruments, and social sciences give you the rules. But manliness is more a quality of the soul.

How does someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger stack up? I would include him as a manly man.

But doesn't he exemplify the sort of man whose overdeveloped muscles are intended to mask feelings of insecurity? Yes, but then he stepped up to become governor of California. He took a risk with his reputation.

What about President Bush? He's a risk taker, but wouldn't his penchant for long vacations be a strike against him? I wouldn't say industriousness is a sign of manliness. That's sort of wonkish. Experts do that.
Read entire article at Deborah Solomon interview in the NYT Magazine

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