How to Blast Away the Left’s Attacks on Manliness
I enjoy telling people: “No worries, I’ll man-up and take care of it,” as the reactions I get plainly expose their politics and character.
If they are the sort of person who thinks “man-up” is sexist, homophobic, and misogynistic, as the mainstream media often claims today, they’ll grimace. They will even, if I’m lucky, tell me why they think so. (I say “lucky” because there is nothing as amusing as hearing a person who self-identifies as being liberal and open-minded trying to explain why you shouldn’t buck their status quo with a competing view.)
The liberal/progressive belief is that manly declarations should be censored, banned, and expunged from our minds for being insulting to women and, perhaps, also to those effeminized men among us. (I am, of course, using “liberal/progressive” as it is defined by politics today, not by the dictionary definitions of those words, as the dictionary definitions are about challenging the status quo.)
This politically correct censorship is at the basis of why manliness is in crisis. If being “manly” is akin to sexism and worse, men should then be something else, but the cabal of Hollywood, academia, and the mainstream media haven’t given men anything else to be. They are simply told not to be men. They are guilty from birth and so should just shut up.
This empty view actually can be traced back to Rebel Without a Cause, the 1955 classic movie starring James Dean. In the movie Dean keeps asking his father “what does it mean to be a man?” but his father doesn’t know. Dean is given no answers. He keeps slouching and looking at the ground and playing the lost young man brilliantly, but no one gives him any answers. Now, well over a half-century later, this is still where liberal Hollywood, academia, and the mainstream media have left the question. They are very concerned about women and women’s rights, but they are not inquisitive at all about what makes men -- and therefore with what they have been attacking.
They’ve torn down many of the ideals young men used to aspire to and replaced them with nothing -- well, nothing other than that they shouldn’t aspire to be men. With men’s ideals gone, today’s youth have often been left lost without real role models or archetypes, outside of Hollywood’s cartoonish action heroes, to emulate.
And the Left hasn’t stopped there. In attempts to further neuter males they now accuse men of “man-splaining,” “man-spreading” and of macho “micro-aggressions” in the workplace. They paint with a broad brush by claiming all men are guilty of sexism; if not on purpose, then unconsciously.
To them a gentleman is a chauvinist by definition. This is contradictory, of course, as how can a man who is so weak that he must put down the opposite sex to prop up his own ego be manly?
So, with all of that in mind, the first thing that blasts away all of these attacks on manliness is refusing to be their victim.
The man who stands up in the rubble of a natural or manmade disaster and stubbornly starts to build is a man indeed. A man who, despite injury, selflessly helps others after a car wreck or during a battle, is a man to respect. A man who, given a pink slip, nevertheless smiles and calmly tells the poor soul in human resources not to worry and thanks them for everything, is a man in control of himself.
Such a person decides, despite it all, to be the hero, not a victim.
Such a man (or a woman, as we are talking about character, not chromosomes here) has the air of being undefeatable even in defeat. They have, as Ernest Hemingway once said, grace under pressure.
This is hard to do, as these days just about everyone is a victim except the old-school man’s man, as he doesn’t give a damn what others think of him. In fiction he is Ayn Rand’s protagonist Howard Roark in The Fountainhead (or, for that matter, Rand’s heroine Dagny Taggart in Atlas Shrugged), as he doesn’t define himself by others -- the very idea of defining himself in comparison to others is out of character for him.
This simple, guiltless trait explains why some hate the man’s man, as he doesn’t accept their authority or “better judgment” and that is very vexing to someone who wants control.
It is why some grimace when I tell them I’ll man-up and handle it.
Maybe this is even why many of the feminists of this age, instead of wanting to be a new ideal, have decided what they really want is to be men. Only they can’t be -- they are women. (If only the feminists would define a new ideal not by politics, but by character traits, no matter the chromosomes, they’d get somewhere.)
After refusing to be the victim comes understanding as towhat builds character. This begins with chasing a hero, an ideal in an age that doesn’t trust ideals. This is, as Joseph Campbell articulated, the hero’s journey.
As you chase your hero, you must understand him. You must realize that today we’ve let the sophisticate slay the man in full -- or at least banish him from polite society. The well-rounded man used to be an ideal, now you are only supposed to be the tame, sophisticated dude, as if you can be a gentleman without being a man of action. That formula doesn’t work. That concoction makes hipsters, boy-men and cads, not men.
What makes men, as it turns out, is the pursuit of an ideal into something real. From the ancients to today the formula for what makes men has been bottled into rites of passage designed to make people of character a society, institution, tribe and so on can count on in good times and bad. Examples include the places we all agree build character -- boot camp, seminary school, a quality karate dojo….
The best part is that once you know the formula, you can use it in whatever chapter of your life story you are now in to become all you want to be.
Frank Miniter's just-released book This Will Make a Man of You -- One Man’s Search for Hemingway and Manhood in a Changing World provides the formula for what makes men.