When Masculine Virtues Go Out of Fashion

The following is a column written by Tom Hoffman of the American Thinker.

The culture war begun in the sixties has, in large part, been won by the left. Nowhere is this clearer than in the feminization of men. The virtues of manhood which had been extolled and celebrated throughout the middle ages right up to the 1950s have been completely expunged from academia and pop culture. The baby boom generation was the last to be taught the values of rugged individualism, risk-taking, courage, bravery, loyalty, and reverence for tradition. John Wayne epitomized the rugged individual who was committed to fighting “the bad guy,” but he was only one of a whole host of competing figures cut out of the same cloth. What happened?

Today, the Boy Scouts are fighting the last battle in a lost cause. Any man who stands up to the “women’s movement” is completely marginalized as a sexist and homophobe. These names have become just as stigmatizing as “racist” used to be. It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly “no.”

Edward Gibbon chronicles the increasing femininity of the Roman Empire in his six-volume work, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He catalogues the progressive decadence that rendered the once-proud republic into spoils for barbarian hordes. The consuls in the early republic, who were warrior-generals adhering to a strict code of honor, gradually gave way to the backroom emperors who were no more than brazen criminals and thugs. It is the same script in all noble human enterprise: The fabric which bred success is torn apart by the complacency of the successful. When warfare is demonized as violence and negotiation is raised to an art, the end is near. Today, we are there.

Today’s politics reminds me of the make-believe kingdom of Queen Herzeloyde. She was the mother of Parzival, the hero of Wolfram von Eschenbach’s 12th-century epic poem Parzival. This masterwork is widely touted as a literary cornerstone of Western civilization. It not only extolled the virtues of knighthood and chivalry, but it also exhorted men to overcome all obstacles on the path to individual greatness.

Parzival’s mother was married to a knightly king whose military campaigns against worldly evil kept him away from his kingdom for years on end. Herzeloyde is heartbroken to hear of her husband’s death and vows to keep her son sheltered from the knightly world. She sets up a royal court in the wilderness with a deadly sanction against anyone who would allow her son to come in contact with a knight. The boy grows up oblivious of the outside world until he confronts two knights in shining armor on horseback. His mother is distraught to discover that there will be no discouraging her son’s ambition to become a knight. She goes so far as to dress her son as a fool upon his setting out upon his adventure in hopes that he will be humiliated and return to her.

Academia, with the help of the media, has labeled all reference to manly virtue as patriarchal, sexist, and homophobic. Womanly virtue, on the other hand, is extolled. Caring, compassion, sensitivity, and understanding are virtues meant to blur the distinction between good and evil and drown out the call of manly conscience to “do the right thing.” Like a mother who refuses to see the evil in her son, the feminist professors cast all moral standards as relative and subjective.

Exit the cowboy and enter the mama’s boy. Queen Herzeloyde would have no problem raising young Parzival in today’s schools, as devoid of examples of manly virtue and rugged individualism as they are. All reference to the service of a higher calling — to God and country — has been replaced by the call to community service with the emphasis on care and compassion for the downtrodden.

We now have a would-be queen named Pelosi who sits atop a vast bureaucracy dedicated to rooting out all reference to God and a higher calling while making sure that any reference to manly virtue, rugged individualism, and decency is stigmatized as “hate speech.” No nation has ever demonized manhood to its own reward. A nation that renounces violence, no matter how just the cause, signs its own death certificate — and for a violent death at that.

_._

For anyone wanting to learn to be a MAN look to Jesus Himself, then go to The Art of Manliness.

And if you can’t fit that in-between your manicure appointment and yoga class, then you may be a lost cause.

96 Responses to When Masculine Virtues Go Out of Fashion

  • Today, the Boy Scouts are fighting the last battle in a lost cause.

    I wish that fellow would leave this sort of talk to the likes of Rod Dreher.

    The irony is that an antidote was offered by (of all people) Eleanor Roosevelt when she said, “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. Masculine virtues retreat when people refuse to defend them.

  • Mr, Hoffman hasn’t met my three sons; or any of our MEN serving (multiple battlefield deployments) in the armed forces.

    But, point taken. We must actively promote manhood.

  • Maybe Mr. Hoffman hasn’t discovered the Catholic faith. Understanding the excellent example of Jesus and the Communion of Saints!

    That and he probably watches too much t.v.

  • I think that “rugged individualism” is the opposite of traditional manly virtue. Traditional manly virtue had a sense of corporate mission.

  • Why is there a photo of someone next to my post?

  • Daniel,

    I don’t know.

    My best guess is that you filled out a gravatar-type profile in the past and WordPress recognized your cookie and attached said picture from that previous gravatar-type profile.

  • “When warfare is demonized as violence and negotiation is raised to an art, the end is near. Today, we are there.”

    I don’t mean to be rude, but you’d have to be a bit of an idiot to believe that. Not just because the U.S. is currently fighting two wars, but because warfare is always very popular in the U.S.

  • Patrick you beat me to it.

  • War, even when it is legitimate, is always a defeat for humanity.

  • I’d extent Patrick’s comment to the entire Hoffman article. Dumb.

    Eric Brown, JP2 wasn’t a real man. We must remember the examples of Jesus and the early martyrs who drew their swords against their oppressors instead of cowering defenselessly like women.

  • I’d extent Patrick’s comment to the entire Hoffman article. Dumb.

    It is not, and don’t tempt me to say what is. For in excess of forty years, we have all been choked by a kultursmog which has had some consistent messages: in favor of exhibitionism, dependency, and manipulation over reticence, stoicism, self-reliance, competition, and rules with consequences.

  • First of all, I like the picture from Big Jake.
    War is not always a defeat. It is unfortunate and sad (I have personally experienced it), but it is on occasion necessary. As we try to establish justice in our fallen world among imperfect people, we must sometimes resort to imperfect means (i.e. war). Unjust wars are a defeat, but just wars can bring about justice (freeing slaves, ending genocide, etc.) As MLK once said “All it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.” War should not just be written off as “a defeat to humanity.”
    That is not to say that war is the core of masculinity, but struggle definitely is. Whether that struggle is against Communism like JPII or against yourself or in battle.
    A great book on Christian masculinity is “Wild at Heart”.

  • You should rename your website Catholic Chest Thumpers and Gun Barrel Strokers Anonymous dot com.

    You all are an embarrassment to the church.

  • Pace Gibbon, Augustine was far more accurate in his depiction of the decline of Rome. His description of the Parade honoring the “god” Priapus in which an honorable Roman matron crowned you can imagine what, sounds much like the “Gay Pride” parades of today. Satan and his cohorts are just so repetitious and unimaginative.

    Many women [feminists] do not give up their girlish unfairness. They do not openly express what most concerns them – their appearance. If you do not believe me, try telling one woman that another woman is good looking. Then duck.

  • R.F.W.,

    Why does testosterone make you feel insecure?

  • Oddly enough, at exactly the same time this feminization of men has been taking place, popular culture has become increasingly loud, violent and aggressive. You can see it clearly if you compare an old John Wayne or Humphrey Bogart movie to one of Sly Stallone’s or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s action flix. The latter have bigger and louder guns and a much higher body count than The Duke or Bogie ever imagined. In addition, street crime and violence have risen exponentially.

    Why is this happening if boys are being removed from all those awful patriarchal influences and being discouraged from any kind of aggressive play? For the same reason wild elephants who are raised without older males around become violent and aggressive — they not only never learn “how” to fight, they never learn WHEN to fight, or why to fight. So they either become completely passive and never fight at all, or they fight all the time over every little thing. Learning to be a man means learning to control and channel aggression appropriately, and boys are not learning this.

  • Hoffman’s virtue theory is strange–disordered, even. He seems to be saying that what he calls the womanly virtues (negotiation, caring, compassion, sensitivity, and understanding) are bad for society when extolled and practiced by men. Virtues, however, are habitual dispositions to do the good. Practing one doesn’t prohibit practicing another. One can be both magnanimous and humble, courageous and prudent, etc. We’re all in our own way meant to practice and develop all the virtues as best we can. The more virtuous we are, the more human we are, the closer we are to being what we ought to be.

  • Also, when men are discouraged from displaying masculine virtues, women are forced to fill the void, which can be pretty difficult.

  • Ouais. See Rebel without a Cause.

  • “Also, when men are discouraged from displaying masculine virtues, women are forced to fill the void, which can be pretty difficult.”

    From the mini-series I Claudius:

    Tiberius to his mother Livia: “Why can’t you act like a normal woman!”

    Livia: “In order to act like a normal woman you need normal men around you!”

    How very, very true.

  • “Why is this happening if boys are being removed from all those awful patriarchal influences and being discouraged from any kind of aggressive play? For the same reason wild elephants who are raised without older males around become violent and aggressive — they not only never learn “how” to fight, they never learn WHEN to fight, or why to fight. So they either become completely passive and never fight at all, or they fight all the time over every little thing. Learning to be a man means learning to control and channel aggression appropriately, and boys are not learning this.”

    Bravo Elaine! A boy growing up without a father will have a difficult time escaping the fate of being a wimp or a savage unless some worthy male steps into the breach. The sexes are not fungible, and you have placed your finger on one of the prime functions of good fathers throughout the ages: teaching a boy that being a man doesn’t simply mean being a large boy.

  • Wow. Until I read this article I never realized how contemptible women are.

  • “Wow. Until I read this article I never realized how contemptible women are.”

    Still trying to sharpen up those reading comprehension skills phosphorious? The point of the post is that men and women have different sets of virtues that play important roles in society. This of course is merely stating the obvious, and it is a tribute to the force of political ideology that so many people attempt to deny it.

  • “The point of the post is that men and women have different sets of virtues that play important roles in society.”

    I didn’t realize that so much of the scriptures were written only to women. Good to know that the stuff Jesus said about the peacemakers being blessed, turning the other cheek, loving your enemies, forgiving 77 times, and all that stuff Paul wrote about love being patient, kind, not storing up grievances and being the greatest of virtues are primarily things women need to cultivate. Makes them much easier for me as a man to ignore.

  • “I didn’t realize that so much of the scriptures were written only to women.”

    Glad to enlighten you Ryan that there is more to the scriptures than Christ giving a peace sign. If you get to heaven you and Pope Urban II should have some interesting conversations. G.K. Chesterton, who celebrated the martial virtues, can give the color commentary.

  • “The point of the post is that men and women have different sets of virtues that play important roles in society.”

    Not so. Hoffman is very clear that the “womanly” virtues are bad for society: “Caring, compassion, sensitivity, and understanding are virtues meant to blur the distinction between good and evil and drown out the call of manly conscience to ‘do the right thing.'”

  • Not so Kyle. The whole passage makes clear that Hoffman was talking about the distortion of these values in contemporary culture:

    “Academia, with the help of the media, has labeled all reference to manly virtue as patriarchal, sexist, and homophobic. Womanly virtue, on the other hand, is extolled. Caring, compassion, sensitivity, and understanding are virtues meant to blur the distinction between good and evil and drown out the call of manly conscience to “do the right thing.” Like a mother who refuses to see the evil in her son, the feminist professors cast all moral standards as relative and subjective.”

    Hoffman is right on target. Every society needs balance and our society has become extremely unbalanced in this area.

  • Thank you Donald. I do enjoy engaging with different perspectives and am always willing to be instructed. I’m sure your conversations with Pope John Paul II and Dorothy Day will be equally enlightening.

  • “I’m sure your conversations with Pope John Paul II and Dorothy Day will be equally enlightening.”

    No doubt Ryan, although I would insist on Don Juan of Austria giving the color commentary!

  • Where does Hoffman say the “womanly” virtues have been distorted? He characterizes the extolling of “womanly” virtue itself as a bad thing!

  • It sounds like he is criticizing extolling the feminine at the expense of the masculine. That’s my read.

  • That is exactly how it is read.

    Kyle is deploying the usual liberal strategy of confusion in order to muddy the message.

  • I don’t think that Hoffman expresses himself with precision here, and I’m not sure that I’m in full agreement with him, but what he’s driving at seems to be a basically Aristotelian concept that true virtue is found in moderation. Thus, to take a single polarity, mercy with no justice, and justice with no mercy would both be disordered, non-virtuous states.

    He’s not saying that mercy is bad while justice is good, but rather that if one makes mercy a virtue but justice a vice, excluding justice from society, we end up with an unbalanced society which in fact reflects neither.

    Now, I think that it’s rather broad brush to take it that certain virtues are strictly masculine, while others are strictly feminine, but I don’t think it’s particularly off base to insist that remove one side of the balance scale results in disorder.

  • I think you would be hard pressed finding any writings in the New Testament, or in the first 300 years of the Church that extol war in any way. Since St. Aquinas put forth the just war theory, there has not been a war that lived up to it. This is because the world would not accept the teaching of the early church that we should not commit violence to each other, so St. Aquinas came up with a theory he knew no war could meet.

    You may be able to argue that “manly” values are what made America great, or that war and violence have their place. But you can not argue that doing violence to others has any place in Christian teaching. Pope Urban may have thought he was doing the right thing in freeing the Holy Lands through the Crusades, but even the Pope can make an error. O do you feel that Pope John the XII who the Catholic Encyclopedia describes as a coarse, immoral man, also made no errors. Or the many other Popes of the middle ages who sought more to enrich themselves and their families. We believe the magisterium, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, accurately passed on the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, not that they were right and justified in all they did.

  • It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly “no.”

    Men being the only ones who were educated = The earthly paradise

    Women outnumbering men in colleges = sissified socialist hell.

    Wow. Until I read this essay, I never realized how contemptible women were.

  • Although this theory does explain a lot about recent history.

    After 9/11, Bush let Osama Bin Laden get away, and focussed his attention on Iraq. . . thus backing down from the bully who actually hurt us, and fighting a country that did nothing to us. Exactly the behavior predicted by this exciting new theory of He-Manliness. . . or lack thereof.

    I always suspected that Bush was a little. . . (and here I’m making that gesture where you hold your hand palm down, fingers spread and then twist it back an forth)

    You know what I mean. . .

  • Wow, the Vox Nova pansies are out in full splendor today.

  • He’s not saying that mercy is bad while justice is good, but rather that if one makes mercy a virtue but justice a vice, excluding justice from society, we end up with an unbalanced society which in fact reflects neither.

    I’m sorry. . . isn’t he saying exactly that:

    All reference to the service of a higher calling — to God and country — has been replaced by the call to community service with the emphasis on care and compassion for the downtrodden.

    A society dedicated to care and compassion of the downtrodden? The horror. . . the horror. . .

  • j. christian,

    Are you saying the apostles who went to their death not allowing their followers to fight were panzies? Maybe St. Ignatius was a panzy when he was marched across Europe to Rome and asked those who came out to great him to not fight for his relief.

    If you wish to discuss Catholic teaching on virtue and the “manly” virtues, please do. If you wish to call those who are willing to suffer non violently in the name of Christ (or who believe christians are called to be non violent in all causes) panzies, then please count me with the martyrs who did just that.

  • The Apostles were contributors to Vox Nova? Who knew?

  • I doubt if Saint Augustine would make the cut for Vox Nova however:

    “Do not think that it is impossible for any one to please God while engaged in active military service. Among such persons was the holy David, to whom God gave so great a testimony; among them also were many righteous men of that time; among them was also that centurion who said to the Lord: I am not worthy that You should come under my roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed: for I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it; and concerning whom the Lord said: Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. Matthew 8:8-10 Among them was that Cornelius to whom an angel said: Cornelius, your alms are accepted, and your prayers are heard, Acts 10:4 when he directed him to send to the blessed Apostle Peter, and to hear from him what he ought to do, to which apostle he sent a devout soldier, requesting him to come to him. Among them were also the soldiers who, when they had come to be baptized by John,— the sacred forerunner of the Lord, and the friend of the Bridegroom, of whom the Lord says: Among them that are born of women there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist, Matthew 11:11 — and had inquired of him what they should do, received the answer, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. Luke 3:14 Certainly he did not prohibit them to serve as soldiers when he commanded them to be content with their pay for the service.

    5. They occupy indeed a higher place before God who, abandoning all these secular employments, serve Him with the strictest chastity; but every one, as the apostle says, has his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. 1 Corinthians 7:7 Some, then, in praying for you, fight against your invisible enemies; you, in fighting for them, contend against the barbarians, their visible enemies. Would that one faith existed in all, for then there would be less weary struggling, and the devil with his angels would be more easily conquered; but since it is necessary in this life that the citizens of the kingdom of heaven should be subjected to temptations among erring and impious men, that they may be exercised, and tried as gold in the furnace, Wisdom 3:6 we ought not before the appointed time to desire to live with those alone who are holy and righteous, so that, by patience, we may deserve to receive this blessedness in its proper time.

    6. Think, then, of this first of all, when you are arming for the battle, that even your bodily strength is a gift of God; for, considering this, you will not employ the gift of God against God. For, when faith is pledged, it is to be kept even with the enemy against whom the war is waged, how much more with the friend for whom the battle is fought! Peace should be the object of your desire; war should be waged only as a necessity, and waged only that God may by it deliver men from the necessity and preserve them in peace. For peace is not sought in order to the kindling of war, but war is waged in order that peace may be obtained. Therefore, even in waging war, cherish the spirit of a peacemaker, that, by conquering those whom you attack, you may lead them back to the advantages of peace; for our Lord says: Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9 If, however, peace among men be so sweet as procuring temporal safety, how much sweeter is that peace with God which procures for men the eternal felicity of the angels! Let necessity, therefore, and not your will, slay the enemy who fights against you. As violence is used towards him who rebels and resists, so mercy is due to the vanquished or the captive, especially in the case in which future troubling of the peace is not to be feared.”

  • I think Kyle’s reading (and that of some others here) of Hoffman’s post is flawed, and I have taken issue with it in his blog

    Click Here to seek Kyle’s post

    I will re-post my comment here, and add one point at the end:

    Kyle, with due repect to your philosophical acumen, which I respect not a whit less than my own, I must take issue with your reading of Hoffman’s piece. To me, it seemed unlikely that you would read a blog piece like that in an unfair way and interpret it wrongly, but it seemed no more likely that someone would take the very odd position you described. In order to relieve the dissonance of two equally absurd possibilities, I read it for myself. I speculated that the quote you lifted might possibly be redeemed by its context, and my suspicion seems to be confirmed by the actual blog post. I did not think it very plausible that someone would argue that caring, compassion, sensitivity and understanding are in and of themselves, deficient and incorrigibly prone to blur the moral conscience. I did not find it very likely that Hoffman was advocating manly virtues to the exclusion of the ones that he deems unmanly. The way I read the piece, he is pointing out a problem with the way academia and the media promote one set of virtues to the exclusion of another set which they reject, but he is not necessarily doing the same from the opposite direction (promoting what they reject, rejecting what they promote).

    Here is the quote you gave in its context (disregarding the further quote, which only serves to emphasize whatever point he is actually making):

    ” … Academia, with the help of the media, has labeled all reference to manly virtue as patriarchal, sexist, and homophobic. Womanly virtue, on the other hand, is extolled. Caring, compassion, sensitivity, and understanding are virtues meant to blur the distinction between good and evil and drown out the call of manly conscience to ?do the right thing.? Like a mother who refuses to see the evil in her son, the feminist professors cast all moral standards as relative and subjective.”

    I think the key to understanding what Hoffman is saying is the verb “meant”, which I have italicized above for emphasis, along with what I take to be the subjects of that verb, the doers of the action: “Academia…the feminist professors…with the help of the media”. It is a critique of what they are trying to do with those virtues, not of the virtues themselves.

    I doubt he would disagree with your point, that all the virtues must be practiced. He is simply correctigng an unbalanced excess in one direction by promoting an emphasis on those virtues which he judges to be marginalized. There is no good reason to insist on a reading of Hoffman as denying a legitimate place for compassion, sensitivity and understanding. I will seek his opinion on our different interpretations of his piece. He, of course, would know what intended.

    My final point is simply this – the root of the word virtue, vir is an accurate rendering of the classical Greek ????? (aret?), which is literally about manliness, and referrs to general excellence of character. It encompasses morality, but is not limited to it, but signifies excellence on all attributes.

  • What I suspect J Christian is pointing out, Paul, is that some people seem to be working themselves up into a tizzy of worry over misinterpreting a piece which really isn’t saying anything all that shocking (or exciting).

    Kyle says that he’s worried by the philosophy of virtue expressed in Hoffman’s piece — that hardly strikes me as surprising as Hoffman is writing a (not terribly deep) piece of social criticism, not laying out a philosophy of virtue. That the result is not a coherent philosophy is not surprising. (Kyle doesn’t even seem to totally disagree with the piece, as in his facebook posting publicizing his post he notes that he does see a problem with “manly virtues” being given short change in our society — pointing to the reworking of Aragorn’s character in the film version of LotR versus his character in the book.)

    Then, within the first four comments over there, we have one commenter saying Jesus would have wept, one saying this is a prime example of American fascist tendencies, and a third claiming that the TAC author “fetishizes violence” and wants to “give the government unchecked power to exterminate the threatening Other”.

    All about a fairly fluffy piece asking why it is that we don’t have better male role models in media and society.

    Much ado about nothing? Methinks so.

  • Though I think it fair to say that men and women express different aspects of human nature. That this different expression of human nature results in different expressions of the virtues I think can only be contradicted by those that live in a 70’s era understanding of human psychology.

    This is not to say that men do not express compassion nor women defense. However, frequently one can see distinctions in expression. Thus the reason why the good Lord made men and women to marry and raise children.

  • Uh oh. . . hold on to your codpieces, gentlemen:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2253645

    Is the Tea Party a women’s movement? More women than men belong—55 percent, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll.

    Women. . . in public life!

  • According to phosphorious and those that drink his kool-ade, all us “masculine men”, ie, conservatives, are misogynists.

    We are so misogynistic that we hated Sarah Palin to the national stage where liberals have rallied around her in droves.

    Yeah, the logic fits…

    …if you’re a kool-ade drinking liberal.

  • I think it was Lewis or Chesterton who described the modern age as virtues run amok. (Probably Chesterton, because that sounds a lot like Orthodoxy.) I agree with DC and Elaine that, without the idea of virtue as the golden mean, we get a society with crazy excesses. The modern “urban” culture, which dominates the suburban middle schools, distorts masculine virtues into violence and promiscuity. On the other side of the coin you have the emasculation that Hoffman writes about.

    I don’t agree with everything Hoffman says – I don’t think he understands the idea of moderation – but he is accurately describing part of the problem.

  • I don’t agree with everything Hoffman says – I don’t think he understands the idea of moderation – but he is accurately describing part of the problem.

    Bingo.

  • Yeah, the logic fits…

    …if you’re a kool-ade drinking liberal.

    Or Tom Hoffman.

    Pinky hit the nail on the head.

  • Yeah Phosphorious, you got me. I obviously have a great problem with women in roles of political leadership.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2008/10/06/reagan-in-a-skirt/

  • I don’t agree with everything Hoffman says – I don’t think he understands the idea of moderation – but he is accurately describing part of the problem.</i."

    But that’s the problem. . . that he only deals with part of it.

    He has convinced himself that we live in a “feminized gae” (shudder!) and that the only cure is to “take back our masculinity” or something.

    While sneering at thew idea of “compassion for the downtrodden.”

    Lewis warned, in The Screwtape Letters i think, that one of the devil’s favorite tricks is to put us on guard against a vice that we don’t have, so that we avoid a virtue we desperately need.

    Looking around America today, I don’t see a country that is too reluctant to go to war, or use violence to further its goals. And Hoffman blames the sissified “libs.”

  • Yeah Phosphorious, you got me. I obviously have a great problem with women in roles of political leadership.

    Still it must worry you on some level that the Tea Party is being feminized, right? Otherwise why all the fuss.

    No one. . . except the evil feminists. . . complained when academia were exclusively male dominions. THAT was the natural order apparently.

    Once women have a slight majority in academia, and the world falls apart.

  • Sarah Palin is of course an interesting case. The claim is that Hoffman doesn;t despise women. . . e just wants women to act like women and men to act like men.

    And yet Sarah Palin displays all the manly virtues, doesn’t she? She shoots wolves from helicopters, for Pete’s sake.

    A woman who acts like a man is praised and lionized by the modern conservative. A man who acts like a woman is despised and ridiculed.

    This is properly called misogyny, no matter how much you don’t like the label.

  • This is properly called rubbish phosphorious no matter how much you may dislike the label. Palin is the mother of four kids and happily married. You don’t get much more feminine than that.

    I have never had a problem with conservative women in positions of political power. I of course oppose liberal women holding positions of political power just as I oppose liberal men holding those positions.

    Your problem phosphorious is that you find it much easier to debate the conservative strawmen you construct in your mind than actual conservatives.

  • Phospho,

    A woman who acts like a man is praised and lionized by the modern conservative. A man who acts like a woman is despised and ridiculed.

    So according to your theory, there must be some women who act like women whom these conservatives despise. Could you please provide some examples of those women?

    Frankly, I think all we’re learning from this conversation is that some people hate conservatives a lot more than they love reading comprehension…

  • phosphorious,

    Besides physical differences, do you think there are any distinctions between men and women?

  • It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly “no.”

    I have been accused of having poor reading comprehension several times now. And conservatives have lined up to say how HAPPY they are that women are taking a larger role in GOP politics. . . because of course you have nothing against women.

    Then you all must flatly disagree with the passage quoted above, right?

  • So according to your theory, there must be some women who act like women whom these conservatives despise. Could you please provide some examples of those women?

    How does this follow? Here’s the argument as I understand it so far:

    Hoffman decries the lack of manly virtues and the overabundance of womanly virtues. he doesn’t explicitly say,as far as I can tell, that men should act like men and women like women, althought hat is how he’s being interpreted by everyone here. It seems to me that he simply dislikes “compassion for the down trodden” and the womanly emotions that nurture it. It seems to me that he simply doesn’t like women. But perhaps I’m wrong.

    But we can test this! It’s simple: Are the conservatives who defend Hoffman equally disgusted by men who act like women (those compassionate pansies!) and women who act like men?

    I claim that the answer is no, with Sarah Palin as exhibit A. A man who cries is beneath contempt, a woman who hunts is a presidential prospect.

    Conservatives don;t mind women who act like women. . . they can;t help it, and they provide much needed child rearing services (although they could stop mollycoddling the boys, couldn’t they!). . . but they respect women who act like men. They DO NOT respect men who act like women

    What have I failed to grasp about conservatism?

  • phosphorious,

    Besides physical differences, do you think there are any distinctions between men and women?

    Good question! There’s a lot of half baked ev-psych and hokum surrounding this issue.

    If pressed for an answer, I would say that the difference does not lie in the two sexes having different virtues, but in the expression of those virtues. Does anybody really think that women aren;t brave or that men aren’t compassionate? Or that both sexes shouldn’t be both? Did women not face Nero’s lions bravely, did Jesus not weep for Lazarus.

    Men and women may express the virtues differently, but to suggest that there are different virtues is damn nonsense.

  • Does anybody really think that women aren’t brave?

    I do not think physical courage is common among women.

  • It may be that Hoffman meant to correct an imbalance and not to disparage what he calls the “womanly” virtues, but he doesn’t make that intention clear in the text. He doesn’t praise “womanly” virtues when practiced rightly or distinguish between those virtues when they are meant to blur the distinction between right and wrong and when they are not. The way he tells it, the “womanly” virtues are meant to blur the distinction between right and wrong. He doesn’t clarify that the virtues themselves don’t have this effect. I suppose one might ask him if the “feminist professors” promote these virtues because they blur and lead to relativism or if it’s merely the particular use of said professors that makes these virtues do this. How he answers would help us understand what he meant, but for now I’m just going on what he said.

    Darwin is correct that I share a concern that certain virtues are not celebrated as they once were. If I were to put my complaint with Peter Jackson’s LOTR films in a nutshell, it would be that Jackson and his writers stripped several characters of their defining virtues. Aragorn loses his magnanimity, for example. Hoffman’s post doesn’t worry me such much as it leaves me shaking my head. If his point was to ask why we don’t have better male role models in media and society, then he could have made that point in a number of effective ways without seeming to say that it’s bad when “womanly” virtues are extolled.

  • Aragorn was the most poorly portrayed character in the trilogy of films. Other than his speech before the final battle, I thought Viggo Mortensen completely failed to convey why anyone would follow Aragorn to dinner, let alone a battle. This failed portrayal stood out to me, since I believed the other portrayals were dead on accurate.

  • …equally disgusted by men who act like women (those compassionate pansies!)…

    Hey, you’re the one reading “pansy” pejoratively. I threw that out there as an experiment. Why should one care about being called a “pansy” unless there’s something unique about his masculinity that he wishes to defend?

    Gotcha. :)

  • When Hoffman writes the following, what does he mean? Is he correct?

    It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly “no.”

    What for Hoffman would be a healthy tread?

  • Most women and men have different types of physical courage. My wife will always look to me to take the lead in any sort of confrontational situation with third parties, and I am happy to oblige. On the other hand she is the veteran of two difficult pregnancies, one involving twins, which she faced with stoicism and grace, and which I suspect would have eluded me.

  • Donald,

    I don’t blame Viggo as much as others. Having seen him in other films, I think he could have portrayed Aragorn well, but the writers and producers felt the character needed to be more pusillanimous, I guess. Sure the character in the book had moments of self-doubt, but the filmmakers took those brief moments and constructed the whole character out of them. Arwen has to tell him to toughen-up, Elrond has to do the same. Even when he gets the crown, he looks unsure of himself. As Aragorn is my favorite literary character [really, how liberal can I be? ;-)], I left the theaters very disappointed.

  • I rather suspect that he would view a healthy trend as one in which men were earning college degrees in at least the same percentage as their proportion of the population. I rather suspect that most college educated women, as they search for a prospective husband, would wish for the same.

    In regard to the military, I share his concern that the combat arms should remain a male preserve, since I think that is an area where sex differences clearly matter. I say that as the father of a daughter, who, with my encouragement, is considering a career as an officer in the Air Force.

  • It seems that Hoffman’s (not very deep) essay is something of a palimpsest that everyone is trying to write over. One side merely sees it as “we’ve devalued some of the manly virtues too much,” and the other reads it as “a woman’s place is in the kitchen.”

  • You might be right in regard to Viggo Kyle, I am not familiar enough with his other work to make a judgment. What surprised me was that the other characters seemed to me to be accurately portrayed. “Strider’s” protrayal just left me very cold. On the other hand I liked Boromir portrayed by Sean Bean, a character I had no use for in reading the books.

  • It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly “no.”

    What for Hoffman would be a healthy tread?

    He seems to be saying that the college-education/professional world is being shaped in such a way that it is much more amenable to women than to men, and thus that same portion of men are being in some sense excluded.

    I can’t speak for Hoffman, nor would I count on he and I agreeing on everything, but I would personally tend to think that a balanced academic culture would result in equal numbers of men and women thriving in college — given that men and women make up equal percentages of the population.

    In professional life, I tend to think that natural human thriving would result in men predominating somewhat, since I think it is greatly to the benefit of children to receive the full time care of a parent, and I think that in the vast majority of cases women are better suited to this than men.

    This failed portrayal stood out to me, since I believed the other portrayals were dead on accurate.

    Just to extend the digression: I’d have to add Legolas, Gimli, Faramir, Denethore, Arwen and Galadrial to that list.

  • As Aragorn is my favorite literary character [really, how liberal can I be? ;-) ], I left the theaters very disappointed.

    Indeed, you’re going to have to watch out Kyle. When word gets out that you idolize an admitted torturer, you’re going to be voted off the island and find yourself out in the water with us sharks…

  • Jump on in Kyle. Its fun being a Calvinist, Enlightenment individualist who seeks to oppress the poor and overturn Catholic Social Teaching and impale all who seek its pure realization in the political domain.

  • Hey, you’re the one reading “pansy” pejoratively. I threw that out there as an experiment. Why should one care about being called a “pansy” unless there’s something unique about his masculinity that he wishes to defend?

    Gotcha. :)

    Very good! Hoist by my own petard!

    But of course you’re quite wrong, overlooking the difference between connotation and denotation.

    For example, the phrase “mackeral snapper” denotes a certain set of individuals, namely Catholics. Might I not object to being called such, without being at all ashamed of being catholic?

    Or shall the name of this blog be changed to “The American Mackeral Snapper”?

    :-)

  • Donald,

    I agree: Sean Bean did wonders for Boromir. I liked Ian McKellan’s Gandalf as well.

    Darwin,

    I remember our having that debate over Aragorn, Gandalf and torture. Good debate. Anyhow, just because Aragorn’s my favorite character doesn’t mean I agree with everything he did. Some of my favorite characters are villains, after all.

  • j. christian,

    It seems that Hoffman’s (not very deep) essay is something of a palimpsest that everyone is trying to write over. One side merely sees it as “we’ve devalued some of the manly virtues too much,” and the other reads it as “a woman’s place is in the kitchen.”

    I think you’ve nailed it.

    Kyle,

    I remember our having that debate over Aragorn, Gandalf and torture. Good debate. Anyhow, just because Aragorn’s my favorite character doesn’t mean I agree with everything he did. Some of my favorite characters are villains, after all.

    No, no, you can’t get out of it that easily. Reason and distinction are simply not allowed in these debates. You’re just going to have to be a “textbook fascist” with the rest of us. :-)

  • The LOTR movies are among my favorites, but what Peter Jackson did to Faramir’s character is unforgiveable. The Faramir of the movies bore absolutely no resemblance to, arguably, the noblest character in Tolkien’s books.

  • I hope that Hoffman will follow up and clear up any misinterpretion of his piece whether I am guilty of it or Kyle et al are. The piece is vague and open to either interpretion, and on that score I can agree that those criticizing this post have a point, for even if they are not reading hm right, that need notbe entirely their fault. The author can own up to some blame for that.

    I offer only one more argument for my intepretation of Hoffman’s intent in writing this piece, which I omitted because my last comment was already too long: At the end of his pot, Hoffman offers Jesus Christ as a model of what he takes to be the ultimate in manly virtue (he also offers a link to a fairly inoccuous web site). Our Lord is not generally believed to have displayed, during His earthly life and ministry, a notable lack in compassion, sensitivity or understanding.

  • “At the end of his pot”! :) LOL

    There should be an “s” in there somewhere!

  • I would charitably interpret Hoffman’s article as simply a plea for more balance between “masculine” and “feminine” virtues, rather than as a misogynistic rant. He emphasizes the good side of the masculine virtues and the downside of the feminine ones, true, but he does so precisely in order to BALANCE the way society denigrates masculine virtues.

    As for the notion that conservatives love women who display masculine virtue… well, I think that’s true but only under certain conditions.

    Ask yourself this question: if Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter were 20 years older, had gray hair and wrinkles, and/or weighed at least 50 pounds more than they do now, but had exactly the same ideas, character, and experience they currently have, would they still be regarded as conservative icons… or would they be written off as a couple of old, loudmouthed, emasculating broads (or worse)? If that were the case, I rather suspect that they would be criticized rather than praised for displaying “masculine” virtues.

  • I think that’s a really good point, Elaine. For both men and women, a certain element of sex appeal is the familiar. Thus, the appeal to women of the “sensitive guy”, and the appeal to men of the woman who actually enjoys sports, hunting, etc. At the root of attraction is often a bit of the image in the mirror.

  • Okay, I reread Hoffman’s post in the most charitable light possible. Nobody here disagrees with the idea that manly virtues are good and should be taught and that many areas of our society neglect it. But Hoffman exaggerates to the point of absurdity. Nobody here should agree with his post in its entirety. I cannot believe that even Hoffman himself believes everything he wrote. He probably thought that writing to a conservative audience he could get away with some cheap shots against libs without actually being fair or accurate. Those who criticize the post are absolutely justified and those who defend it are really glossing over it because they agree with the central message.

  • I’m not sure how highly correlated effeminacy and loss of manly virtue are. Today’s manly men use facial products and get body waxes even though the cowardly men of yesterday would’ve thought that too effeminate. I remember an episode of All in the Family where Archie is disgusted by the fact that his male neighbor cooks. Today, cooking is fast becoming a man’s activity.

  • “Today’s manly men use facial products and get body waxes”

    Speak for yourself on that score restrained radical! No body waxes for me, and only shaving cream and alcohol, for external use, touch my face!

    Cooking has always been a partially male activity. My late father-in-law was a Navy cook, and you would not have wanted to have seen him come lumbering towards you in a dark alley! My late father would sometimes cook, in addition to operating the steel shears at the truck body plant where he worked. Of course summer barbecues have usually involved male cooking, although I have been teaching my steak secrets to my daughter.

  • Of course any thread on the masculine virtues is not complete without this film clip:

    The three surviving flag raisers from the battle, Ira Hayes, John Bradley and Rene Gagnon, raised the actual flag from the battle in this final scene.

  • Ask yourself this question: if Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter were 20 years older, had gray hair and wrinkles, and/or weighed at least 50 pounds more than they do now, but had exactly the same ideas, character, and experience they currently have, would they still be regarded as conservative icons… or would they be written off as a couple of old, loudmouthed, emasculating broads (or worse)?

    Two words: Margaret Thatcher. Not hot, yet a conservative icon on both sides of the Atlantic.

  • I still relish her “handbagging” “wet” male ministers!

  • “Older, with gray hair and wrinkles” – you mean Phyllis Schlafly?

  • Speak for yourself on that score restrained radical! No body waxes for me, and only shaving cream and alcohol, for external use, touch my face!

    I think we can also allow Old Spice or Clubman — after shaves are okay so long as the formula goes back at least 100 years.

    On cooking, I’m reminded of the scene in Donnie Brasco where the gangster explains that while women may cook, men are chefs.

  • Don, now that I think about it, you’re right about the cooking. But I stand by my other example. Many of today’s new veterans probably use facial products. The meathead firefighters down at the gym go to tanning salons and wear lip gloss.

  • O tempora, O mores. A note to all our female readers. Do not even think of marrying a man who takes more time primping than you do. You will regret it! :)

  • Restrained – The American Thinker site is not a place of subtle distinctions. Hoffman’s article is good by their standards. I read their articles sometimes. Then again, I also eat at Wendy’s sometimes, and I don’t brag about it or expect much from it.

  • I usually just despise the AC/VN rivalry, but I had to compare their thread with this one. We’ve definitely got better commenters here. AC covered more topics, better, and more civilly, with some really interesting writing. I think we got closer to the right answer, as well. Nice going.

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