Now You're a Man, a Man, Man, Man

Francis Wilkinson has an excellent article in the American Prospect on politics, manliness, and the politics of manliness. Useful bookends from it:
We are in our sixth year of government by gonads. Through conscious, concerted, disciplined, and relentless effort, Bush and his party have succeeded in cowing critics and defeating Democrats by advancing images of, and insinuations about, manliness in the public sphere. In the Republican political schemata, this is a man’s world. Men have made it dangerous. And only men -- real Republican men -- can make it safe again.
The one man who taught us better than any other to conquer fear was no Governor Terminator. His muscles were unimpressive. He had no physical swagger to him at all. His military experience was a desk job. He wore no cowboy gear. He smoked cigarettes not like a Marlboro Man but filtered through a slender, feminine holder that could have been a prop from the Follies Bergere. He didn’t promise to protect us. He made us believe we could protect ourselves -- from the violence of fascism and the vicissitudes of capitalism alike. And he handed us the tools to do the job. We built the better part of the American century on the back of an aristocratic, polio-addled cripple. Now that was a man.

When people say "manly," they are not always speaking, chiefly, about manliness. They are speaking about the positive attributes our society attributes chiefly to men - hard work, responsibility, toughness. Disentangling these positive attributes from exclusively male ownership is one of the chief challenges in the struggle for a truly egalitarian society.

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