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Antifeminist scholarship

Here's a pretty old post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 18 years ago, in 2006, on the World Wide Web.

Here’s conservative scholar Harvey C. Mansfield, interviewed a few days ago in the New York Times Magazine by Deborah Solomon, about his new book Manliness. Let’s how leading conservative scholars from Harvard stand up for academic integrity and daring, substantial research, in the teeth of the anti-intellectual and anti-scientific hordes of lazy Black philosophers and hysterical female biologists…

Q: As a staunch neoconservative and the author of a new feminism-bashing book called Manliness, how are you treated by your fellow government professors at Harvard?

Look, if I only consorted with conservatives, I would be by myself all the time.

So your generally left-leaning colleagues are willing to talk to you?

People listen to me, but they don’t pay attention to what I say. I should punch them out, but I don’t.

In your latest book, you bemoan the disappearance of manliness in our “gender neutral” society. How, exactly, would you define manliness?

My quick definition is confidence in a situation of risk. A manly man has to know what he is doing.

Hasn’t technology lessened the need for risk taking, at least of the physical sort?

It has. But it hasn’t removed it. Technology gives you the instruments, and social sciences give you the rules. But manliness is more a quality of the soul.

Here’s how the contenders stack up:

How does someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger stack up?

I would include him as a manly man.

What about President Bush? He’s a risk taker, but wouldn’t his penchant for long vacations be a strike against him?

I wouldn’t say industriousness is a sign of manliness. That’s sort of wonkish. Experts do that.

What about Dick Cheney?

He hunts. And he curses openly. Lynne Cheney is kind of manly, too. I once worked with her on the advisory council of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

In your book, you say Margaret Thatcher is an ideal woman, but isn’t she the manliest of all?

I was told by someone who visited her that she is very feminine with her husband.

Why is that so important to you in light of her other achievements?

We need roles. Roles give us mutual expectations of what is either correct or good behavior. Women are neater than men, they make nests, and all these other stereotypes are mostly true. Wives and mothers correct you; they hold you to a standard; they want to make you better.

I am beginning to wonder if you have ever spoken to a woman. …

Here’s political scientist Mansfield’s vigorous defense of economist Larry Summers’ genetic theories against the politically correct sniping of female biologists:

Were you sorry to see Harvard’s outgoing president, Lawrence Summers, attacked for saying that men and women may have different mental capacities?

He was taking seriously the notion that women, innately, have less capacity than men at the highest level of science. I think it’s probably true. It’s common sense if you just look at who the top scientists are.

But couldn’t that simply reflect the institutional bias against women over the centuries?

It could, but I don’t think it does. We have been going a couple of generations now. There are certain things that haven’t changed. For example, in New York City, the doormen are still 98 percent men.

Yes, but fewer jobs depend on that sort of physical brawn [?! sic] as society becomes more technologically adept. Physical advantages are practically meaningless now that men are no longer hunter-gatherers.

I disagree with that.

When was the last time you did something that required physical strength?

It’s true that nothing in my career requires physical strength, but in my relations with women, yes.

Such as?

Lifting things, opening things. My wife is quite small.

What do you lift?

Furniture. Not every night, but routinely.

Further reading:

4 replies to Antifeminist scholarship Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. Sergio Méndez

    Reading this interview I feel better to know that I will probably never make it into Harvard…

  2. Ben Kilpatrick

    What an imbecile… I’d say more, but, yea, that’s one of the more impressive examples of stupidity I’ve read recently. heh

  3. Roderick T. Long

    Ah, Harvey C. Mansfield! (Or “Harvey C-minus Mansfield” as he was nicknamed.) I have a few more stories about him.

    a) I took a course from him back in the early 80s. It was a big lecture course, 200 students or so, and very little class discussion. (He would stand up in front of the class and intone crazy Straussian interpretations in a soft whisper.) About 15 years later I ran into him at a conference and I mentioned that I’d taken his course. He said, “Yes, I remember you.” Bullshit! He had no basis whatsoever for remembering me. A “noble lie,” I guess, but to what end?

    b) While I was his student I went to a talk he gave about racism, affirmative action, etc. Two incidents out of this. One is, he asked “Why does it matter whether blacks are statistically under-represented on the Harvard faculty? Jews are statistically over-represented on the Harvard faculty, and no one thinks that’s a bad thing.” The Harvard Crimson quoted this as “There are too many Jews on the Harvard faculty.” The Spartacist paper improved this still further, to “There’s too many Jews.”

    c) Okay, that last anecdote ends up worse for his critics than for him. But here’s the really surreal one: He was saying in his talk that racism is essentially dead in the USA today. During the Q&A a black student expressed doubt about this claim.

    Mansfield answered: “No, racism is really pretty much dead. For example, you never hear the N-word any more.”

    Student: “That’s not true. I certainly hear it.”

    Mansfield: “Hmm, it’s odd that you say that, because I never hear it.”

    Student: “Well, people might be less likely to call you that.”

    Mansfield: “No, just the opposite — I would think people might feel freer to use it around me than around you.”

    (So, the fact that Mansfield doesn’t hear the N-word much from people in his social group — Harvard professors! — shows that racism is dead. Free at last, free at last!)

  4. Otto Kerner

    At first, I felt somewhat alarmed when he said that his relations with women require physical strength. But, then he explained about the furniture, so, well, that explains that.

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