In public schools, feminized churches, and our popular culture, a uniform standard of good behavior has emerged: just be nice. This is not enough. It ignores te unique excellence and distinct roles to be played by men and women in a healthy social life. But this is no matter to advocates; for them, sex differences are merely a social construct designed to subordinate women. Differences must be hammered out.
Boys who show energy and initiative are labeled as sufferers from attention deficit disorder and quickly put on Ritalin. Worse, older masculine ideals are put down as archaic, oppressive, “sexist,” and barbaric. This has led to a degradation of both sexes. Men are increasingly predatory or useless, fathering kids they quickly abandon, leaving their older wives with children, and retreating from responsibility with a cynical demand for equal treatment. If they are less anti-social, they are wimpy, insecure, and superfluous figures. Women, in the name of equal rights, find themselves barren and unattractive after investing their prime years in a career that does not live up to billing in terms of fulfillment. Even if they manage to settle down, masculine virtues like emotional self control and bearing are in short supply among their mates.
English Professor Anthony Esolen reminds us of what we have lost:
Many millions of boys in America, for instance, are growing up in homes without fathers, so they find “fathers” of their own on the streets or in the diseased and silly fantasies of mass entertainment, musclemen who can take down a city, or charismatic gang leaders who move caches of drugs and make exciting things happen.
They miss the more subtle fortitude of moral vision and farsighted self-sacrifice. Male heroes in popular literature for boys, 80 or 90 years ago, might be all right with a gun or a sword, but they might also be bespectacled dons like Mr. Chips whose discipline was a form of love.
I see manhood as the drive to lead — to serve by leading, or to lead by following loyally the true leadership of one’s father or priest or captain.
The man exercises charity by training himself to be self-reliant in ordinary things, not out of pride, but out of a sincere desire to free others up for their own duties, and to free himself for things that are not ordinary.
The man also must refuse — this is a difficult form of self-sacrifice — to allow his feelings to turn him from duty, including his duty to learn the truth and to follow it.
A man loves his own family, but he also loves his family by refusing to subject the entire civil order to the welfare of his family; he understands that if he performs his duty, other families besides his own will profit by it.