In the war social justice warriors wage daily, there is no greater casualty than the word ‘manliness.’ Once used to describe the builders and destroyers of myriads of civilizations, the word ‘manliness’ has almost been demonized beyond repair. Being ‘manly’ nowadays seemingly places a target on your back, and in some extreme instances you are perceived as “threatening.” However, there is a glimmer of hope. Manliness, although encapsulating a wide variety of behaviors, characteristics, and actions, still lives in today’s society.
Waller Newell, professor of Political Science at Carleton University in Ottawa, stated in his book, The Code of Man:
“Americans may not talk much about manliness, but they know how to show it.”
In this particular instance, Newell was referencing the heroic response to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. One can also look at the overwhelming amount of men that join our armed forces and law enforcement details (this is not meant to discount the women that serve. They are equally brave and righteous). Indeed, despite the constant bombardment that men are regularly facing in today’s society for their masculine qualities, manliness is alive and well today, and it just takes an observant bystander to witness this.
In addition to the destructive rhetoric that SJWs heap onto men, there exists another reason as to why masculinity has disappeared from today’s society. Like many other would-be-men my age, the post-Cold War security society that we were born into removed the trials and coming of age journeys that boys of almost any other generation would have had to face. Boys in the early 20th century faced wars and brutality on a scale never before witnessed by humanity. Before that, they faced real hard work (not like the hard work boys complain about today, like finishing up chores or completing homework), untamed nature, the collapses of empires, and the destruction of civilizations. The average boy today can expect to face none of the trials and tribulations that his ancestors faced as a part of daily life. Even the oldest, richest families in America once started from humble beginnings, embarking on terrifyingly unknown journeys across the ocean to take on the so-called New World.’
In a speech delivered to the citizens of Chicago, entitled “The Strenuous Life,” Teddy Roosevelt said:
“I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.”
In this monumental and influential speech, Roosevelt argued that intense effort, of both mind and body, along with the overcoming of incredible hardships, were and still are ideals men should strive towards, not turn away from. Those who do not embrace the strenuous life, from the perspective of Roosevelt, do not live a meaningful one.
Needless to say, Roosevelt stood out as a man among men and continues to be the beacon of manliness, with his essence emanating from his speech, in the trepidation of today.
In this upcoming series of articles, I will explore the many different avenues boys can utilize to uncover manliness in our modern age, what it takes to be a man based off characteristics and virtues many iconic men share, and some studies of manliness by fiction and non-fiction writers from the past and present.
I hope you all look forward to my upcoming articles, and hopefully, we can all preserve masculinity and guarantee that today’s boys grow up into men that our ancestors would be proud of.