When Masculine Virtues Go Out of Fashion
By Tom Hoffman
The culture war begun in the sixties has, in large part, been won by the left. Nowhere is this clearer than in the feminization of men. The virtues of manhood which had been extolled and celebrated throughout the middle ages right up to the 1950s have been completely expunged from academia and pop culture. The baby boom generation was the last to be taught the values of rugged individualism, risk-taking, courage, bravery, loyalty, and reverence for tradition. John Wayne epitomized the rugged individual who was committed to fighting “the bad guy,” but he was only one of a whole host of competing figures cut out of the same cloth. What happened?
Today, the Boy Scouts are fighting the last battle in a lost cause. Any man who stands up to the “women’s movement” is completely marginalized as a sexist and homophobe. These names have become just as stigmatizing as “racist” used to be. It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly “no.”
Edward Gibbon chronicles the increasing femininity of the Roman Empire in his six-volume work, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He catalogues the progressive decadence that rendered the once-proud republic into spoils for barbarian hordes. The consuls in the early republic, who were warrior-generals adhering to a strict code of honor, gradually gave way to the backroom emperors who were no more than brazen criminals and thugs. It is the same script in all noble human enterprise: The fabric which bred success is torn apart by the complacency of the successful. When warfare is demonized as violence and negotiation is raised to an art, the end is near. Today, we are there.
Today’s politics reminds me of the make-believe kingdom of Queen Herzeloyde. She was the mother of Parzival, the hero of Wolfram von Eschenbach’s 12th-century epic poem Parzival. This masterwork is widely touted as a literary cornerstone of Western civilization. It not only extolled the virtues of knighthood and chivalry, but it also exhorted men to overcome all obstacles on the path to individual greatness.
Parzival’s mother was married to a knightly king whose military campaigns against worldly evil kept him away from his kingdom for years on end. Herzeloyde is heartbroken to hear of her husband’s death and vows to keep her son sheltered from the knightly world. She sets up a royal court in the wilderness with a deadly sanction against anyone who would allow her son to come in contact with a knight. The boy grows up oblivious of the outside world until he confronts two knights in shining armor on horseback. His mother is distraught to discover that there will be no discouraging her son’s ambition to become a knight. She goes so far as to dress her son as a fool upon his setting out upon his adventure in hopes that he will be humiliated and return to her.
Academia, with the help of the media, has labeled all reference to manly virtue as patriarchal, sexist, and homophobic. Womanly virtue, on the other hand, is extolled. Caring, compassion, sensitivity, and understanding are virtues meant to blur the distinction between good and evil and drown out the call of manly conscience to “do the right thing.” Like a mother who refuses to see the evil in her son, the feminist professors cast all moral standards as relative and subjective.
Exit the cowboy and enter the mama’s boy. Queen Herzeloyde would have no problem raising young Parzival in today’s schools, as devoid of examples of manly virtue and rugged individualism as they are. All reference to the service of a higher calling — to God and country — has been replaced by the call to community service with the emphasis on care and compassion for the downtrodden.
We now have a would-be queen named Pelosi who sits atop a vast bureaucracy dedicated to rooting out all reference to God and a higher calling while making sure that any reference to manly virtue, rugged individualism, and decency is stigmatized as “hate speech.” No nation has ever demonized manhood to its own reward. A nation that renounces violence, no matter how just the cause, signs its own death certificate — and for a violent death at that.