How can a man do it these days? Be one, that is? From bugs to marriage, the most primitive to the most fundamental, Frank Miniter has written the book, and spoke about it with NRO’s Kathryn Jean Lopez.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: I read Harvey Mansfield. Why would I ever need to read another book on men again?
FRANK MINITER: I devoured Harvey Mansfield’s book Manliness. It’s a book that looks back across time to historically document the dismantling of manliness. Along the way it effectively defines manliness, and it articulates why so much in our modern culture is attacking masculinity. It’s a fine book. My book, on the other hand, is the antidote to the trend Mansfield so well outlines. The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide is a how-to guide to becoming a hero, gentleman, survivor, philosopher, and more by tapping masters of different disciplines to teach the skills, philosophy, and bearing a well-rounded man should attain.LOPEZ:
How did manhood get lost? Where can it be found?
MINITER: Some today blame feminism for weakening masculinity. While it’s true that some feminists have deemed chivalry to be a polite word for sexism, the assertion that men are being emasculated because women are in the workplace is absurd. First of all, how can a man call himself a real man if he has to hold down the other gender in order to prop himself up? Sorry, such a man is too insecure to be a real man.
For a clearer perspective, it’s revealing to note that every culture successful enough to support an upper class produced sissies. For example French kings, such as King Louis XIV, once wore high-heeled shoes, silk stockings, and long, curly wigs made from women’s hair. In Victorian England, men in the upper class (those away from the farm and toil) wore frock coats with fitted waists and matching vests, silk top hats and stockings, and cravats, and practiced strutting with walking sticks with polished brass knobs. Yet those were both two of the most patriarchal societies this world has ever seen.
So then, what dandified those men? Just like urban America today, a complete lack of connection with their roots in the natural world is what is shrank their gonads. Just travel to any Third World country where men still have to till the earth with their hands and hunt to fill the pot, and look around to see if you can find a “girly-man” wishing he had a fuller-bodied shampoo. Such men don’t exist far off the pavement.
Theodore Roosevelt noted this loss of manliness in 1899 when he wrote, “Unless we keep the barbarian virtues, gaining the civilized ones will be of little avail.”
LOPEZ: Why is your “survival guide” necessary? Men have survived without it. Presumably you have.
MINITER: The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide draws on men such as Socrates, Winston Churchill, Cicero, and Tecumseh, as well as contemporary men such Sgt. Greg Stube to step forward and show the way. Yes, men can survive without this book, but they need all this knowledge regardless, and getting it in a lively, pithy way in this book is better than having to learn it all the hard way.
It should be noted that, though it is well-established that masculinity is now under attack, few are acknowledging that being an old-school gentleman warrior is a hell of a lot more fulfilling and fun than being a pensive metrosexual afraid to get his nails dirty or to have rain wash the hair gel from his sculpted look. A real man can be a hero, isn’t afraid to walk off the pavement, and knows vices are a good thing when treated appropriately. After all, drinking, smoking, and gambling won’t make you a man; despite what this politically correct nanny state preaches, it’s learning to moderate those vices that makes you into a man.