Manly Men… Where have you gone?

Manly Men… Where have you gone?

I shared this as a comment on FB. It was a letter to the editor a few years ago and it struck me so deeply that I saved it. I’d like to share it with you. 


Dearth of manly men who are Gentlemen
Let’s hear it for the boys. Nobody was flooding the streets in my little Chicago suburb after news of Osama bin Laden’s death. But the jubilation was palpable nonetheless.
I’ll leave it to others to sort out the implications of all this for our national security.
I’m just grateful for the manly men of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six who carried it out. But I wonder: Will we always have such fellows?
Like all Special Operations Forces, the SEALs are by definition all male. Yes, women may well have been involved in support and/or planning the mission to take down bin Laden. But for physically carrying out a mission like this on the ground, political correctness goes out the window because it’s a luxury we can’t afford. The stakes are too high. This was clearly a job for men.
Whether it was the first responders on Sept. 11, 2001, the men who stormed the cockpit on Flight 93 that day or the Special Operations Forces that went in to get the mass murderer in the end, there are just times that call for manly men.
The kind our culture too often decries as being just about aggression, guts, competition and testosterone, and not nearly sensitive enough or in touch enough with their feelings.
Yes, the kind who still tell their sons to get right back up after a fall, dust themselves off and “be tough.” Who meet a daughter’s dates with a firm handshake and a “you touch her and you’ll be meeting with me and it will get ugly” look. The kind who think it’s their job to protect women and provide for their families.
Almost 10 years ago, in the wake of 9/11 itself, essayist Peggy Noonan spoke of the importance of such manliness and what she believed to be its return following the terrorist attacks. She wrote then in the Wall Street Journal that “manliness wins wars. Strength and guts plus brains and spirit wins wars. But also, you know what follows manliness? The gentleman . . .
“If you’re a woman and you go to a faculty meeting at an Ivy League University, you’ll have to fight with a male intellectual for a chair, but I assure you that if you go to a Knights of Columbus Hall, the men inside (cops, firemen, insurance agents) will rise to offer you a seat. Because they are manly men, and gentlemen.”
She’s right about manly men being gentlemen. I don’t think her optimism about the appreciation for such men coming back after Sept. 11 was born out in reality.
In the 10 years since then, we’ve continued to see a denigration of masculine men in the culture. The bumbling, silly, often superfluous father or boyfriend continues to be a mainstay of popular culture, whether in movies, commercials or sitcoms. It’s often the wise mom or girlfriend who has to show him the way.
We’ve worked hard to radically gender-integrate our armed forces, minimizing the unique contributions men once brought to it. In fact, Special Operations Forces are one of the few all-male holdouts that remain in our military. Thank goodness we still have that.
Because when a job like capturing or killing an infamous terrorist has to be done so the world can be safer — for that matter, when we gals hear a mysterious bump downstairs in the middle of the night — we want manly men to handle it.
But for how long will we have such men, such gentlemen?
I fear we already are experiencing a dearth of these fine fellows. One answer is to start encouraging more respect for the traits that good men bring to their communities and their families as well as the armed forces.
I’m afraid if we don’t, there may come a crunch time when we look for such men — in our personal lives or our nation’s life — and find there aren’t enough to step up and protect us.
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