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3/4/06

Mind Shadows Home      Of Men

Harvard political philosophy scholar, Harvey C. Mansfield has published a book, Manliness. Journalist Norah Vincent, a self-professed “dyke,” wrote Self-Made Man, about disguising herself as a male to explore the world of men.

On his part, Mansfield says that male power reflects human nature and is not simply a social artifact; it is a function of biology, of testosterone. To a feminist his view is not politically correct. Had he been a Harvard president, he would have resigned because faculty disagreed with his speech on male-female differences, as is the recent case with Lawrence Summers. Androgyny will never happen, says Mansfield. Or, as the French say, Vive la difference. For Mansfield, in the post-modern world manliness is "underemployed." Feminism is only one of its enemies.

To write her book, Norah Vincent disguised herself as a man, called herself Ned, learned male mannerisms, and joined a bowling league, among other things. Her fellow bowlers were working class--repairman, plumber, and construction worker, most of them at or near middle age. Educated, and a feminist, she had preconceptions about them but was surprised by how much she liked her new comrades. She enjoyed "the natural warmth of their handshakes and how 'tacitly attuned [the] men are to each other.' Their easy camaraderie and directness are in sharp contrast to her usual experience with women’s guile and 'dime-a-dozen intimacies'.” And, "no one reacts to Ned’s inept bowling style with scorn or one-upsmanship, as Vincent implies that women might; in fact, the men are generous with pointers and quietly respectful when other men demonstrate especially impressive skills."

"Ned’s experience on the dating circuit also yields unexpected sympathy for men. In looking for love, Vincent finds, men are required to slog through a purgatory of rejection, hostility, and ambiguity. When Ned tries to talk up a few women at a bar, the lovelies 'looked [me] over like inferior produce in the supermarket'." More

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