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November 19, 2018


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Ellen Wertheimer

It would be particularly helpful to those of us who read The Faculty Lounge (as I do) if you would define "manliness" as you are using it.

Anthony Gaughan

Welcome to The Faculty Lounge, John. It's great to have you join us! Tony


Dear Ellen,
You are asking a vital question. Unfortunately, given the spatial limitations besetting my reply, I am afraid that I cannot offer a robust answer. But I am inclined to say that manliness, at its core, must contain the virtue of courage, especially physical courage. This is not to suggest that courage is necessarily adequate to render an unmanly man manly. But it is meant to suggest that without courage no man could lay claim to being manly (or expect others to bestow such claim on him). I have explored this thesis in "The Burdens of Manliness," 33 Harv. J. L. & Gender 477 (2010) and "Manliness's Paradox" in Masculinities and Law (Cooper & McGinley, NYU Press, 2012). If you should be so kind as to peruse either work, I look forward to your questions and criticisms. Thanks for your blog comment.


Thanks for the welcome, Tony!


Perhaps the definition of manliness starts, with respect to humans, with a biological organism, capable of producing the sperm to initiate fertilization, which is not capable of incubation of the resulting fetus.

From there, human societies differ in the inevitable consequences of this disparity, and all the many other biological differences, between the majority of male and female humans.

Today, there is a distinct effort to pretend that these differences don't exist, except, of course, when societal mores favor one's own slice of the populace (defined by gender or related discriminatory customs). Power struggles abound, and in "elite" circles we hear more and more open demonization of men, especially "white men," in an effort to wrest away control of this or that.

"Toxic masculinity" is a favorite slur du jour. It allows one to stereotype, and demean, nearly an entire gender.

Of course, the only purpose of all this is "unity" and to "bring us all together."


Dear Anon,
Thanks for your reply. I think you're making some provocatively interesting remarks. Frankly, I wish more scholars who feel as you do would be more willing to express them in the form of articles and books. Justice Holmes, whom I will blog about, would surely have welcomed a vibrant marketplace of ideas.

The Law Offcies of Kavanaugh Thomas, LLC, PC, LTD, Chartered, AV Rated

George W. Bush was court appointed to be President because he was a Macho Man. Nothing but. Imagine Al Gore. Al. God, just the thought of it made Scalia and Thomas cringe. When Bush stood on the deck of that BIG boat in his green flight jacket (I saw one for sale at Ross) with the banner "Mission Accomplished" that was a supremely macho act. That appealed to a large segment of the population that likes Macho Men. Hell, the guy even drove a huge F-250 pick up and they named a truck after him called the "King Ranch." Macho.


I am not sure if I understand the definition of manliness - defined as courage, especially physical courage - if you include President Bone Spurs, I cannot go out in the Rain in it. Unless you mean faux-manliness.

The Law Offcies of Kavanaugh Thomas, LLC, PC, LTD, Chartered, AV Rated

Jared^^^^Don't you dare call our dear leader, Cadet Bone Spurs. He is very courageous. It takes a lot of testicular fortitude to bullshit and tell the world his helicopter wouldn't start in the rain. Maybe it needed new points and plugs. Distributer coil got wet. I thought he looked so hunky in those ill fitting hiking boots while visiting California.

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