Lynn Gazzis-Sax asks a perfectly reasonable question about the question of masculinity and manliness.
Adam Serwer writes
It’s 2000 all over again: A Republican governor from Texas is running for president, and the press is swooning over his manly manliness.
As I read this, I realized that, if I’d been asked ahead of time to guess which politician, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Gary Johnson, or Jon Huntsley, would be singled out for “manly manliness,” I wouldn’t have been able to point to one of them and say, “yes, that one’s the obvious candidate!” And that raised the question in my mind: How far do we actually agree about manly manliness? If I were to pick two singers, let’s say Bruce Springsteen and Eric Clapton, and ask you which of them displayed more manly manliness, would you all give the same collective answer? If I were to ask you to tell me who in the world you think is most manly (leaving out loyal answers like “my husband” or “my father”), and why, would you all describe the same kinds of people, and point to the same traits?
Source: Noli Irritare Leones
Leaving aside the
insane notion that there should be anything more to “manliness” than either a) being able to produce human-ovum-fertilizing substances or else b) deciding that your genitals either are or ought to be male, what is there, exactly, that makes Rick Perry more “manly” than Bruce Springsteen, or Conan O’Brien, or the late Fred Rogers, or for that matter the female-bodied but impeccably masculine Sinclair Sexsmith?
Is Perry manly? Sure. But in the course of becoming one he’s emptied himself of every other thing that makes a real man human. I mean, yeah, it really does “take balls to execute an innocent man.” But to do such a thing requires one to have amputated every other vestige of one’s humanity.
Put it another way: if you could choose any kind of man to be would you choose his kind of “manliness” over all others?