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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Sensitive or Manly?

I've seen this false dichotomy before, but when exactly did "manly" and "sensitive" become antonyms? ABC news:

Ladies, if faced with the decision of picking between a Humphrey Bogart in "Casablanca" - the cool, independent, self-sufficient type -— or a Tom Hanks in "Sleepless in Seattle" - the sensitive, supportive, thinking type -— who would you choose?

One Harvard professor argues that if you said Hanks, that's just because you have been brainwashed by feminism.

"Women may say they want a sensitive man but they don't always love one," said Harvey Mansfield, professor of political philosophy at Harvard and author of "Manliness." "They are sometimes much more attracted to a manly man. He may be more oblivious of their needs and their desires but impresses them more."

...

In his controversial book, Mansfield argues that manliness has been hijacked by feminism and advocates of gender-neutral society. He defines manliness as confidence in the face of risk, and says America is on the verge of a manliness crisis.

How about a little less generalization and a little more room for individuality? I am a woman and I like 'em beefy, cool mannered with a 3-4 day beard growth and perhaps a little man-stench every now and then. But why does that have to come pre-packaged with insensitivity and complete oblivion to anything not related to sports or TV bloodbaths?

And why do all women have to prefer the same thing and share the same opinions? I guess we are all just so easily categorized. A different, slightly related article:

Women are such strange creatures. It is both a complaint and a compliment. They want their full independence and are totally dependent. They insist on parity of rights and expect the men to do more than their share. When men cross the gender divide and choose to wear their hair long, pierce their earlobes and dress as metrosexuals, women say they still like their men the old-fashioned way-rough, gruff and not too fluffy. Vanity it seems is still the domain of the fairer sex. While women have certainly gone beyond their former roles, men have not been remotely successful the other way. We are so trapped. Men who stay single and grow old are suspected of being gay. (This reflects our present bias against the third sex). Men can'’t hold hands; neither can they go to the toilet together. In fact, we are expected to hold our own against the strongest alpha women and cradle them like a baby when they'’re down. Life is tough these days for men.

Awww, poor guys. I've never heard a woman make a rude comment about men holding hands. I always got the impression that it is other MEN who point fingers, call names and maintain a bias against "the third sex."

Men's liberation movement above all is the recognition that men can choose to be a woman not only in the physical sense to fulfill traditional roles, which some women abhor in the name of feminism. It means a man can be who he wants to be and not be stigmatized for the soft decisions he takes. He can baby sit, get hurt and cry, stay home and cook and not be tagged a sissy, or a "takusa."

Come on, make up your mind. Has feminism has made girly, sensitive men (as illustrated in the first linked article) or does feminism abhor them (second article)?

I think the real answer is neither. There is no feminist conspiracy to make men more or less "masculine." I think the non-issue of "manly vs. sensitive" is entirely an intra-sex battle that reflects some men's own struggle with venturing outside old-fashioned, traditional male roles. Some women prefer Tom Hankses, some prefer Humphrey Bogarts, or maybe both or neither. Some Tom Hankses prefer Humphrey Bogarts. It will always be that way.

Survey: Which do you prefer to be and/or be with?