Monday, March 13, 2006

Thank God I'm a Man

Yesterday's NYT mag featured a Deborah Solomon interview with Harvey "I Put The 'Man' In" Mansfield, author of the forthcoming book "Manliness," which laments the loss of manliness in a "gender-neutral" society. I have better things to do than read the book — I think I've got me some socks that need darning — but Solomon's interview provides a preview. Apparently being a man boils down to "confidence in a situation of risk. A manly man has to know what he is doing." Manly men who take manly risks include Arnold Schwarzenegger ("he took a risk with his reputation"), Dick Cheney ("He hunts. And he curses openly") and President Bush ("What are you benching, buff guy?"). Women, on the other hand, are neater, and "make nests."

For the record, not even my kindest friends would describe me as "neat," though there may be something nesting in my oven since I haven't turned it on in over a year. I curse. I hunt (I think that qualifies, with the added bonus that no one gets shot in the face). As for confidence in a situation of risk, well, the surest example I have is of a mother's instinct when her child is in danger. I've seen it. Wowee, them little fillies can shore move fast.

Of course, it wouldn't be a discussion of manly men without a nod to how much smarter they are, too. Consider this compelling excerpt:
Were you sorry to see Harvard's outgoing president, Lawrence Summers, attacked for saying that men and women may have different mental capacities?

He was taking seriously the notion that women, innately, have less capacity than men at the highest level of science. I think it's probably true. It's common sense if you just look at who the top scientists are.

But couldn't that simply reflect the institutional bias against women over the centuries?

It could, but I don't think it does. We have been going a couple of generations now. There are certain things that haven't changed. For example, in New York City, the doormen are still 98 percent men.
Ohhh, the doormen. Well, that explains it.

Here's the thing: how good can these men be at science if they never offer any goddamned PROOF that they're better at it than women? Sheesh.

Of Manliness and Men [NYT Mag]
The Manly Man's Man [Boston Globe]
The Manliest of Manly Men, Man [Broadsheet/Salon]
AUDIO: Thank God I'm A Man [Shock Treatment*] (lyrics here)

*Via Big & Sharp. Thanks Kyle! You're manly!

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