Of Manliness and Men

Deborah Solomon has an interesting yet somehow bizarre interview with Harvard political scientist Harvey Mansfeld on the topic of his new book, Manliness. It’s difficult to tell when Mansfeld is being serious or tongue-in-cheek.

How does someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger stack up?

I would include him as a manly man.

But doesn’t he exemplify the sort of man whose overdeveloped muscles are intended to mask feelings of insecurity?

Yes, but then he stepped up to become governor of California. He took a risk with his reputation.

What about President Bush? He’s a risk taker, but wouldn’t his penchant for long vacations be a strike against him?

I wouldn’t say industriousness is a sign of manliness. That’s sort of wonkish. Experts do that.

What about Dick Cheney?

He hunts. And he curses openly. Lynne Cheney is kind of manly, too. I once worked with her on the advisory council of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. McGehee says:

    The first rule of manliness is, “Never talk about manliness.”

  2. James Joyner says:

    Probably a pretty good rule.

  3. Eneils Bailey says:

    I read the interview on the link. The first time through it does seem hard to make the distinction between “being serious or tongue-in-cheek.”
    Considering that he is probably the only conservative on campus, the recent turmoil Summers had with the “Department of Menopausal Studies,” he was being interviewed by a woman from the liberal NYT, I think he was toying with her like a cat plays with a wounded mouse.
    I did find the two comments about Lynne Cheney and Margaret Thatcher to be very interesting. Lynne Cheney as “kind of manly” when he worked with her and Margaret Thatcher as “very feminine” with her husband. I assume he has respect for these two women. Was he saying women should approach work differently, yet retain the traditional role of of a woman?
    Just my opinion, maybe I read too much into it.

  4. NoZe says:

    This is political science?

  5. James Joyner says:

    NoZe: Not from first glances; maybe sociology? This is Harvard, though, where a president was chided for suggesting that a rap album isn’t serious scholarship.

  6. floyd says:

    let’s face it, our schools have decided that we should raise our girls to be men, and our boys to be pets. real men would not tolerate the nit-picky level of control imposed by today’s society.