The Masculine Mystique

But a man’s got to have a code to live by. And according to mine, stranger, a real man don’t ride around saying things like it’s “a considerable fact that almost any man can beat up almost any woman.” That sounds to me like something some yeller-bellied, four-eyed tenderfoot might say before his ma washes his mouth out with soap.

And another thing, buckaroo. Where you get off saying things like, “One has only to think of Jane Austen to be assured that women have a sense of humor, distributed in lesser quantities to lesser brains”? Jane Austen? Who’s she? You got something to say, you say it straight and back it up. Big mouth don’t make a big man.

And what’s this about Hitler, buddy? Says right here that Hitler “deliberately incited a low, worse-than-vulgar, manliness, a manliness that was nothing but manliness.” You write that? Hobble your lip. Our boys in WWII had a whole lot more Simon pure manhood than that one-nut pervert and his goose-stepping loony gooneys. Here you go thinkin’ and thinkin’ about the essence of manliness, and you come up with Hitler as the genuine double-rectified, real article? Sorry, don’t get it done, Dude.

Now I twig what you’ve been tryin’ to do. You been fixin’ to write this big serous book ’bout whatever happened to manly men, and how tomorrow would be a better place if so many of us weren’t, as you say, “unemployed.” And you want to show off about how all these big thinkers you mention”Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, Nietzsche”agree with you. And about how all these uppity women like Simone de Beauvoir complain about everything but never had an idea that some man didn’t think of first.

Ain’t that about it? Oh, and this too. People who believe in “liberal democracy” are to blame for everything because they don’t trust manly men to stand still when the law comes round. Democracy? I like the sound of that word. That’s pretty near what I thought I was fightin’ for at the Alamo and against the Japs and the Krauts, too.

Oh, and I almost forgot. You say both manly men and feminists are “nihilists.” You got three whole chapters on the subject, and they boil down to sayin’ it can be a good thing to be nihilist if you’re a man like Teddy Roosevelt, but always a bad thing if you’re a gal like Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer or Kate Millet because then it’s “denying nature.”

Fine word “nihilist.” I looked it up in the dictionary once. I don’t have to be a college boy to see how bad you’ve burnt the hash. A real man talks slow, talks low, and don’t talk too much. You, on the other hand, carry on like a shave tail suffragette saying one damn fool thing after another.

Says right here on page one of this book, for example, that “Manliness seeks and welcomes drama and prefers times of war, conflict and risk.” Not hardly. Where I come from, a man who welcomes drama is likely to be called a drama queen. And a man who kills when he don’t have to, we call a punk. Did Gary Cooper in High Noon go looking for a fight? Was Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca on the shoot? And ain’t you never heard me say, “All battles are fought by scared men who’d rather be someplace else”?

Yeah, a lot of hombres carry on about what big men they are, but that doesn’t make them so”not in my book. Truth be told, and you can ask any woman you meet in the saloon, it’s the mudsills with the biggest mouths and the biggest guns who usually turn out to be the little willies.

You want to know what a real man is? Stop reading all those books by tin star philosophers. From what I hear, most of them peckerwoods, (especially the Greek ones) were nellies anyway. No, you want to know what a good man is, you pick up the Good Book.

That’s what my daddy, God rest his soul, made me do, and I thank him for it. Made me read about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. One thing about them, they could fight, but they were all good, God-fearing, family men, or tried to be. They were men who loved their wives and children enough to teach ’em about God, Truth, Honor, Loyalty, and to show ’em the right way in life. Real patriarchs.

I try to be like that myself. I’m a baby hugger. When I fight, I fight for my family, and for all the families of this great democracy of ours. Yet here I read your whole book on Manliness all the way through, and there is not one single word about bein’ a good husband or bein’ a good father. Instead, you say manliness is all about showing off, looking for trouble, and dealin’ with this thing called “nihilism,” which, as far as I can tell, means livin’ as if God don’t exist. Mister, that’ll be the day.

O.K., a lot of guys make mistakes, I guess, but every one you make, a whole stack of chips goes with it. I know the women folk can be irritatin’ with all their yammerin’ about “relationships.” All men hate to hear “We need to talk about our relationship.” But the one thing any real man knows is that when a gal starts naggin’ you about your feelings, you don’t go spoutin’ off. All you need do is pay her a little attention. Tell her how she sure looks pretty. Helps, too, if you take her dancing. What you certainly don’t do is go writing a book about how feminism gets in the way “of the pleasurable duty of henpecking,” or about how you should be the boss man ’cause women “fear spiders” and the like. Hell, I fear spiders, but I saddle up anyway.

Yes, some of the ladies keep trying to fence us in. I even hear tell there were some good men at that school back East where you teach who couldn’t keep their jobs for life because a bunch of women run the place these days. Hell, from what I hear the women-folk are even takin’ over all the science and engineering jobs and makin’ the top man, what’s his name, Summers, skedaddle.

But a real man don’t whine about its being the end of a way of life. He just says, “Wagons forward!” and takes his herd over the hill. What’s it to you if these feminists, as you say, all want to get into “the academic profession, where one can be aloof from men and devote oneself to the study of the destiny of woman?” As one cowboy friend of mine said, “Women have the right to work wherever they want, as long as they have the dinner ready when you get home.”

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Phillip Longman

Phillip Longman is policy director at the Open Markets Institute and senior editor at the
Washington Monthly.