On Christmas Eve on my other blog—what’s its name again?—I spoke about men and women’s social expectations for them. My argument was that women had stopped expecting men to behave as Menschen (which isn’t quite the same as Übermann, but definitely a little more than your average Joe. When a German calls another man a Mensch, you can almost hear him underline it and put an exclamation point after it: “What a man!”). And because women no longer demanded special treatment by men, men stopped trying to be Menschen and became dogs … except that such a comparison is unfair to the dog, who at least can be expected to show some fidelity.
Now in the magazine First Things, poet and homeschooling mother Sally Thomas takes a look at the problem from the other side of the fence. Her argument is a little more than simply saying, “Boys will be boys”. Rather, she goes on to argue, “It’s a mistake for parents to presume that a fascination with the idea of blowing something away is, in itself, a disgusting habit, like nose-picking, that can and should be eradicated. The problem is not that the boy’s hand itches for a sword. The problem lies in not telling him what they are for, that they are —the sword and the itch alike. … Heaven forbid, we always say, that our boys should have to go to war. Still, what even a symbolic knighthood accomplishes is the recognition that a boy’s natural drive to stab and shoot and smash can be shaped, in his imagination, to the image of sacrifice, of laying down his life for his friends.”
Monsignor Charles Pope refers to this article, and at one point makes the trenchant comment:
Yes, it has been very frustrating to be a man in the modern age let alone have to grow up under the tutelage of social scientists and education bureaucrats who scorn and suspect your very nature. Boys are aggressive. That is natural and good. They must be taught to master it and focus the energy of their aggression on the right object, but they should not be scorned for who and what they are. Such scorning has become for too many a sense that they are socially “enlightened.” It is time to see this attitude as a the type of bigotry and sexism that it too often is.
When this next paycheck comes out (happy birthday to me-ee …), I’m going to check out Be a Man: Becoming the Man God Created You to Be, by popular Catholic speaker Fr. Larry Richards, whom I heard on Catholic Answers Live (that link is for Real Audio format, click this link to get an .mp3 version). And I’ve started to follow a blog called The Art of Manliness, which has some trenchant observations.
All in all, it sounds like manhood is making a comeback.