"Manliness" starts in a fussy lecture-hall mode with [Harvey] Mansfield taking the wordy, long way around to prove a few points about the male and female--that they're innately different, and in exactly the ways people always thought they were before they did any thinking on the subject.Conservative bloggers, as we all know, are obsessed with what they call the Mainstream Media, the MSM, for what they perceive as its ideological biases, which is more accurately interpreted as something slimmer: a failure to share fully the ideological biases of conservative bloggers, who feel that while there may be some oppositional role for the press insofar as Bill Clinton has a penis and Nancy Pelosi wore a head scarf in a mosque, the press should remain an explicitly national organ. That is not to say a government organ, although the authoritarian predispositions of contemporary conservativism make it difficult to tell the two apart. It is to say more simply that they feel the regular news ought to run more like the sports page--broadly informative, critical when the boys are doing badly, but basically committed to rooting for the home team. That an objective observer would conclude this already to be the case might be an irony, or might not.
-Walter Kirn, reviewing Harvey C. Mansfield's Manliness in the Times
Internet liberals, meanwhile, share an additiction to proving that The Media is not, as conservatives claim, liberal. What Liberal Media?, as Eric Alterman, a pugnacious historian whose sole gift is to take himself incredibly seriously, plaintively asked in a rather plaintive book. Ever-fond of bitching that the public and The Media don't buy their "frames," by which liberals mean something like rhetoric (more accurately, something like salesmanship, marketing, propaganda), these liberals show themselves daily to be immune to understanding one of the most elementary rules of good marketing, which is to capitalize on any perception of market stregth. Whining that your brand looks stronger than it is doesn't sell more six packs, in other words. But that is not the lesson for today.
Rather, note the shared belief of our quibbling camps: that at some point in the past, the media was "doing its job." Implicit in every complaint about the MSM or the not-liberal liberal media is the notion that there was once a better press, whatever your definition of better--that the reporting was superior, the editorial boards wiser, the philosophy clearer, and so on.
Crap. Thomas Jefferson may have been starry-eyed about newsprint, but let's be honest about the quality of the American newsmedia. It has never been very good, and the more it grew into a professionalized institution with its own mostly bogus rules of ethics, its own farm-team pedagogies, its own graduate schools and career paths, the worse it got. Pride commeth before the fall, and all that. Editorial pages have always been full of the windiest nonsense, and reporters who were once the sleazy products of pubs are now the sleazy products of M.A. programs, where there brains are rotted with Social Responsibility and its attendant evils rather than with bourbon and unfiltered cigarettes. But it's all equally bad for you.
With that long introduction, I can only say that in tone if not topic, you could easily imagine this scolding editorial by notable Orlando uterus Kathleen Parker to be a harangue about the folly and sin of women's suffrage, say, or legalizing miscegination. Here is the heart of it:
We can debate whether they're right until all our boys wear aprons, but it won't change the way we're perceived. The propaganda value Iran gained from its lone female hostage, the mother of a 3-year-old, was incalculable.In the annals of bad writing, there's probably not a greater transgression than the habit of making a broad, potentially counterfactual assertion, and then following it with the familiar, "There's not enough space here to go into all the ways that this is true, but it is true, by god, and everyone knows it." That, of course, is the priciple tactic of the gender traditionalist, who feels that with thousands of years of the ol' patriarchy on his side, women bearing the brood and men tilling the field, women baking the bread and men hunting the boar, women weeping and men warring, why, how otherwise could it be? These are people who embrace an essentially static model of human knowledge and understanding. That virtually every other thing our species believed about itself and the universe around it throughout almost the whole of our history on this planet has proven to be not merely wrong, but spectacularly wrong, fundamentally wrong, wrong to the point that wrongness loses its categorical meaning and slips off toward infinity, is irrelevant where boys and girls are concerned. Boys like trucks; girls like dolls. That's the way it's always been, and by my four humors and all the ether between here and canal-crossed Mars, by the wheel of Apollo's chariot and the angry spirits of the harvest, I swears to ya that's the way it shall always be, amen.
It is not fashionable these days to suggest that women don't belong in or near combat -- or that children need their mothers. Yes, they need their fathers, too, but children in their tender years are dependent on their mothers in unique ways.
There's not enough space here to go into all the ways that this is true, but children (and good parents) know the difference even if some adults are too dim, brainwashed or ideologically driven to see what's obvious.
Why the West has seen it necessary to diminish motherhood so that women can pretend to be men remains a mystery to sane adult.
What our authoress is saying in the pages of the Post is that we must keep our womenfolk-wombearers cossetted and coddled, baking bread as they themselves ferment and rise, in order to avoid the possibility that the weak leader of an impoverished theocracy might one day use some British ladycakes as an example of the fact that We, the West, are Wimps. "You gonna let yer lady do it for you?" Oh-ho-ho, it's like when Marissa Tomei knew cars and Joe Pesci didn't. The message: Mothers, stay home. Don't go off to war. Don't get raped--it is, like, totally worse for women.
I suppose it's what you'd call the Dinesh D'Souza school of thought: treat your women as would your enemies, in order that your enemies not treat your women as your enemies otherwise would.