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Masculine Folly on Display

What's at stake.

5:23 PM, Jun 13, 2011 • By EMILY SCHULTHEIS
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If you are growing tired of hearing all the gruesome details of politicians’ personal lives, you are not alone. But you may also find yourself troubled about what these stories say about the state of our culture. 

Take a step back and check out what the past month’s scandals might actually reveal about us and the world we live in. Check out Ross Douthat’s column from yesterday’s New York Times. And Harvey Mansfield’s article on “Manliness and Morality” from our June 6th issue:

What with Arnold and DSK, male transgression is once again in the news. Let’s not equate the two cases—one is forgivable, the other, if the accusations are true, is not. Together with these male transgressions is the reaction to them, still more interesting. The reaction shows the power of morality to produce disgust and disgrace at the sight of these male weaknesses. Even though morality can’t prevent such excesses, it won’t let go of us. Just when we think we are too advanced, too sophisticated, too New York to care, we all have to stop and gasp and exclaim to one another.

Look at the old-fashioned, home truths that are vindicated in these spectacles, some obvious, some less so.

(1) Men are more adventurous and aggressive than women. This is true for good as well as ill. Men are much more violent, but also more given to innovation and invention. Most science and all common sense says this, but our society now wants desperately to be gender-neutral, and it has great difficulty in admitting this obvious difference between the sexes. Many think that admitting such differences will hurt the chances of women to gain for themselves formerly male occupations that require initiative and drive. It certainly seems strange that being capable of rape can make a person better qualified for greatness, but it’s probably true. Yet it’s not surely true; some women do have these manly qualities and do succeed.

Read the rest here.

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