William Watson Section 40743

Manliness in America
You know their names: John Wayne, James Bond, and The Terminator straight-faced fighting machines, answering every opponent with fist, gun or wit. They can break down any obstacle and overcome any situation, no matter how dire or hopeless. But what makes these men the heroes they are? The answer is the one trait they have in common, their manliness. It is engraved both physically and mentally in every swing of their fist, every escape from the most perfect trap, and every word of seduction out of their mouths. The concept of manliness has been a part of human civilization since humankind still lived in caves. Roya Monajem identifies the beginning of the manly trait in Masculine Psychology by stating, “in the first natural division of labor among human beings, males' fundamental duty was to protect and help females in feeding and insuring the survival of the next generation.”(par. 7) Though that may still be at its core, America is facing a new age where many believe the trait of manliness is becoming obsolete. The very definition itself is undergoing change, and many wonder what this is doing to our society, a society that used to make heroes out of manly men. Harvey C. Mansfield, a Harvard professor, recently defined manliness in two specific criteria. The first is “confidence in a situation of risk, one that’s dangerous or one that’s competitive” (Doolittle, Amy. par 5). Risk can mean a large number of things: a fight, a race, or any sort of competition. Manly men will seek the challenges of difficult situations, sometimes in an aggressive manner. This side of manliness can be attributed to men such as Martin Luther King and James Bond, as well as to some women, such as

William Watson Section 40743 Margaret Thatcher. Mansfield’s second aspect of manliness is when men “’define turf and fight for it - sometimes to defend precious liberties, sometimes for no good reason’ and it is that spirit, the need to stand up for something, which propels people into public life”(Beckham, David par 5). Mansfield states that men hold the idea of ownership as a reason for fighting, or even dying. Whether dealing with ideals or something more physical, the manly men will fight for what is theirs, or what they believe they deserve. This desire to fight for their beliefs is what inspires men to the roles we often see only as male, such as diplomats, lawyers, and police officers. As Walter Kirn states in Who’s the man?, “we've known everything all along about how men are a mixture of pluck and pride and a certain primordial selfish-unselfishness that would rather die than live unfree, but which, if permitted to live free, isn't afraid to kill, if necessary -- especially to protect the weak” (par 6). Yet over the last thirty years, the manliness of our nation has been fading, and the “honorable, brave, self-restrained, zealous” manly men have been replaced by “a generation of men raised by women” (Newel, Walter R. par 9). Social engineering has slowly blurred the line between man and woman gender roles. America, in its quest for equality, has condemned the act of being manly and has made men apologize for being men. Even the term “manliness” sounds outdated and cliché to the average person, and is often replaced with “masculinity” or an equally gender-neutral term. Hollywood has played a major role in this change. As Joseph R. Phelan states, “Where once the world viewed the likes of Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart and Robert Mitchum as the celluloid embodiments of an ideal of manhood, their persona have long since faded from the popular memory” (par 1). He goes on to give examples of their replacements, people like

William Watson Section 40743 “Alan Alda, Dustin Hoffman and Donald Sutherland“, all pacifists and vegetarians, opposing the courage and risk-taking that define manliness (par 2). The post-Vietnam political shifts also contributed to this fading of manliness. The empowering of feminists and homosexuals countered the very definition of manliness. Because manliness has been fading, there have been obvious changes in our society. For within manliness lies certain traits that influence human society. Hand in hand with aggressiveness comes a protectiveness of loved ones. Men chastised for their pride also have pride for their wives and marriages, and have a tendency to be faithful. Manliness also enables men to release their inner nature. While manliness has been oppressed to hold back violence, it seems that “ ‘macho’ violence and stress between men and women may well have increased. Recent crime statistics suggest as much in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, the countries where the feminist social experiment is stigmatizing manliness” (Newell par 5). Newell also exemplifies the fact manliness plays a roll in the obligation that is marriage, “Boomers were told that we shouldn’t be hung up about providing masculine role models for children and should do whatever made us happiest, including escape an unsatisfying marriage. After all, to hold things together for the sake of the children would restrict both men and women to oldfashioned ‘patriarchal’ responsibilities” (par 6). The lack of male influence has also enabled other emotions to permeate the times; compassion, empathy and generosity have come forward, while on the other hand the past has been influenced by men manly traits of risk-taking and property (Blacker, Terrence par 6). While America wouldn’t have been formed if not for the manly pride in property, and the forefathers of America never would have risen against England to fight for what they believed to be theirs if they weren’t full

William Watson Section 40743 of pride, there is a different nation on the North American continent now, and in the words of Kay S. Hymowitz, “There remains a rift between the mystery of our sexual natures and the demands of our rational, bourgeois order. That being the case, the masculinity crisis is likely to be with us for a long time” (par 28).