Saturday, March 18, 2006

Gender politics--is this guy for real??

In last sunday's Boston Globe, there was an article about Harvard Prof Harvey Mansfield and his new book on 'Manliness'. Reading the article, I thought I had taken a time machine back to the 1950s or perhaps even further back to Victorian England.

Go ahead--read the article, then come back to see the letter I sent to the editor.

(if you don't want to register, you can use "me at privacy dot net" [eliminate spaces, at=@, dot=.] password:boston *from*)

(Go ahead--I'll be right here. . .)

To the Editor:

Harvey Mansfield fragments society into the very rigid gender-based hierarchies that increase conflict and denigrate the contributions of both male and female traits. I actually laughed when I read:

"Forcing manly men to wash dishes, or to curb their aggressive ways in politics or business out of deference to "sensitive" women, does violence to nature and gelds modern society."

I quickly sobered, realizing the implications of his thinking. If curbing male aggression is bad for society, than the rise in gun-related deaths in Boston this year or the alarming rate of male on female sexual assault is the natural order of things. Silly me, for my 'soft', 'sensitive', and 'indirect' thinking.

Perhaps I am naive, having neither Mansfield's academic credentials, nor his anatomical attributes. I matured in a post-feminist world and hold the apparently false belief that relationships based on mutual respect and shared responsibility are healthy ones.

Gender traits are to some extent hard-wired. However, if 'manliness' is so threatened by 'womanliness', than the problem is with the dichotomy itself. Humans wouldn’t have survived if women could not be aggressive, adventurous, and fierce; men, caring, nurturing, and cooperative.

Gender wars don’t serve anyone, Mansfield’s quest for a ‘manly man’s’ world notwithstanding.

I doubt they'll print my letter, but I felt the need to write it. And you should have seen my completely *unprintable* first draft. LOL.

In a way, I hope this man isn't for real, but I fear he actually does believe in his own hype. And that's a shame because folks will read his book. Because he's a professor from Harvard, a lot of folks will give credence to a belief structure that only adds fuel to the fire of the gender wars.

OK. Back to writing.

And I have some kick-ass female protagonists. So there.

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