“Today the very word manliness seems quaint and obsolete,” writes Harvard University professor Harvey C. Mansfield in his controversial, thought-provoking book Manliness. “We are in the process of making the English language gender-neutral, and manliness, the quality of one gender, or rather, of one sex, seems to describe the essence of the enemy we are attacking, the evil we are eradicating.”
In this week’s feature interview for our issue on men, WIE’s Ross Robertson asks Dr. Mansfield to speak about why he thinks manliness is not as bad as it appears to be. In our research for this issue, Dr. Mansfield was a rare find—an academic who is willing to take seriously many questions about the value and significance of masculinity that are mostly taboo in the contemporary discourse on sex and gender. Here he explores such topics as the virtues and shortcomings of manly men, the complex nature of manliness itself (as it is expressed both by men and women), and the history of our postmodern experiment with a “gender-neutral society.”
As one of his Harvard colleagues has said of him, “Harvey Mansfield is a Harvard treasure, a one-man antidote to liberal complacency. I disagree with almost all of his political views, but his presence enlivens the government department, and Harvard, immeasurably.” We hope you find his ideas enlivening as well.
Recorded on: 6/1/2008
Men And Spirituality