Monday, April 03, 2006

Last night, on CBC’s Sunday report, I watched Carole MacNeil squash Harvard’s Professor of Government, Harvey Mansfield, like a bug. The really sad part is that wasn’t her intention. She just asked him a logical question.

And what was this complex, gut-wrenching query that caused Harvey to cry (rather girlishly),

“I surrender! I surrender!”

‘Define Femininity’.

I should explain that Harvey Mansfield just wrote a book.
And what is his book about? It’s titled ‘Manliness’.

So, in retrospect it seems logical that if you are going to go to all the trouble of writing a book about what defines “Manliness”, and then go on TV to promote said book, that you also ought to define it’s counterpart ‘Femininity’.

On Sunday Report, Harvey defined Manliness as “Confidence in the face of Risk”.

Quotes from Harvey Mansfield: (Link to full article below)

“While maleness is partly just a fact of biology, in humans it is linked to thinking and reason in ways that make manliness something much more than mere aggression. In humans, masculinity is more than just defense of one’s own; it has been extended to require noble sacrifice for a cause beyond oneself.

Certainly, women reason and sacrifice too, and they are not devoid of aggressiveness. But their participation in these things is not “equal.” As Aristotle said, men find it easier to be courageous--and women find it easier to be moderate. Of course, you cannot avoid Aristotle’s qualifier, “for the most part.”


(Note from E. Ann - Aristotle is also on record as recommending men wait until age 37 to marry, and then to choose a wife 20 years younger. Women, in Aristotle’s perfect world, would be ruled by men, except in the domestic affairs where women were encouraged to reign supreme.
Okey-dokey then.)

Here’s the link to the article quoting Harvey’s above.
http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2003/04.10/13-manliness.html

And here is an article on a debate between Harvey and a feminist.
http://www.taemag.com/issues/articleid.17576/article_detail.asp

Highlights:

Mansfield, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Government, is quoted as saying:
"It was men who destroyed the World Trade Center, and it was also men who rushed in to save people who were trapped. Perhaps women still need men to save them from men," Mansfield said.”


Uh-buh?

Um… Harvey, are you suggesting the firefighters went into the Twin Towers to save women only? Can you hear yourself? Oh! And Harvey? It was TERRORISTS who destroyed the World Trade center. And judging by the suicide bombers these days, terrorists come in BOTH genders.

Other Highlights:

“Cott (The feminist who debated against him) questioned Mansfield's insistence on using manliness as an ideal term.

"There must be a better term than manly. Nobility, character, courage, and integrity are wonderful principles for human behavior. Why not dispense with trying to save the word and hold up these other terms as ideals?"

But Mansfield could not accept this compromise.


"Principles are all very fine, but they need someone to stand up and vindicate them, to risk one's life for them in extreme cases. Principles don't establish themselves. They need someone to defend them." ”

Honey? Take out the garbage and defend my principles, mmmmkay?

UPSHOT:
This Harvard man is so ham-handed at expressing himself he’s certainly not doing men any favors.

The interviewer on Sunday report, Carole MacNeil, a congenial journalist as ever I’ve seen, didn’t even ask him hard questions and he STILL crumbled like a cookie.

And then (after Carole drove a 4x4 through the holes in his argument) he basically went on to say that women would be better off doing housework.
(He later decided that hadn't been the best word he could have used)

CONCLUSION:
If Mr. Mansfield gets a spot on Oprah, he better wear full body armor.

ASSIGNMENT
How do you define ‘Manliness’ and ‘Femininity’?

Test next Monday.
Spelling doesn’t count.
;-)

8 comments:

Sandra Ruttan said...

Gee, thank goodness you gave us a week for this one.

Or I'd just go with the feminine usually have boobs and the masculine shouldn't.

M. G. Tarquini said...

he basically went on to say that women would be better off doing housework.

I've always contended that housekeepers would be better off doing housework. But that's just me.

Anonymous said...

This monolithic-thinking caveman thinks that maybe someone like me ought to squish that weenie Mr. Manfield to protect the poor innocent feminine womenfolk.

Imagine that girlie-man Manfield mouthing off like that. He should be clipping hair or arranging furniture. That's all he knows about. He hasn't a clue as to what makes a man a man.
He gives cavemen like me a bad rep.

A Harvard Professor of Government, yeah, that sounds like the description of a Man's job. NOT.

Bernita said...

Culturally or biologically?

Ric said...

Ah, the ladies are back to man bashing....

E. Ann Bardawill said...

Bernita - Define how we PERCIEVE Manliness and Femininity, then.

I'm not man-bashing in general, quite the contrary. guys deserve a much better spokesperson that this doofus. I think I grasp what Harvey is attempting to say, but he's going about it so badly I'm uncertain. I expect I'll pick up his book from morbid curiousity if nothing else.

I'm working up to an essay on this.

Dana Y. T. Lin said...

Manliness = being manly.

Femininity = being feminine.

There. Where's my brownie?

For The Trees said...

Okay, Dana wins. The terms are almost incomprehensible, anyway.

Manliness is a culturally-defined term, anyway.

Feminism is, because women don't have to change it. They just know what they are.

Now give me MY cookie.