Harvey Mansfield’s Manliness is reviewed by Christina Hoff Summers in the Weekly Standard. His discussion with Naomi Wolf on last week’s C-Span left me irritated. I assumed the book was not as flimsy as her accusations & his defenses implied. And, indeed, Summers’ grasp is more sure:
But one forgives Mansfield his imprecision and hyperbole because so much of what he says is profoundly true. Not all of contemporary feminism is a playing out of Nietzschean themes, but a great deal of it is. He is also right when he points out that many feminist leaders emulate some of the cruder and unappealing qualities of manliness.
. . .
Mansfield’s analysis of women’s nihilism gives us the lens to understand these developments as caricatures of the feminist will to “empowerment.” It is a form of manly assertiveness unmoderated by Aristotelian ideals. Here we have an example of women imitating masculinity in its lower range. It is the dark side of the “gender neutral society” in which we now live.
(Probably more about this in the summer, but for now, Summers’ summary might interest our readers.)