An accomplishment borne of adversity
by Carey Roberts
Alas, masculinity has come under siege. All manner of unpleasant things that happen to women are blamed on those linear-thinking, knuckle-dragging males. Even young lads are viewed with suspicion â€“ earlier this month a 4-year-old boy in Waco, Texas, was placed on in-school suspension following an unwelcome hug of a teacherâ€™s aide.
We shouldnâ€™t pretend to be surprised. Six years ago Christina Hoff Sommers warned us about the feminist-inspired The War Against Boys, and a year later Paul Craig Roberts wrote a column with the startling title, â€œCriminalizing Masculinity.â€
Finally in 2006, people came to realize the assault wasnâ€™t going to let up just because of the preposterous nature of the claims about the patriarchal conspiracy. Indeed, people began to wonder if the opposite was true â€“ that men had willingly carried the most dangerous and onerous roles in society to the primary benefit of women.
Even corporate America saluted the return of the macho. This year Burger King, Miller Lite, and Haggar pants all unveiled ads that put the kibosh on effeminate metrosexuals in favor of the rough-and-tumble he-guy.
So this yearâ€™s Award for Political Incorrectness is made to an individual who made an enduring public statement about masculinity during the past 12 months.
In January, Kate Oâ€™Beirne released her no-holds-barred critique of the Ladies in Lavender, Women Who Make the World Worse. Noting that the â€œmodern womenâ€™s movement is totalitarian in its methods, radical in its aims, and dishonest in its advocacy,â€ the book intones, â€œwe depend on manly characteristics to keep us safe. Every single one of the dead firemen on 9/11 was a man.â€
In April, Carrie Lukas weighed in with â€œIn Search of Chivalry,â€ a moving tribute to the men who perished on the Titanic. â€œIâ€™ll start by thanking the men of the Titanic, who 96 years ago gave up their seats so that the women could live,â€ Lukas memorialized.
Then Foreign Policy magazine came out with an article by Phillip Longman, where he makes the argument that the most harmful legacy of the Matriarchy is its tendency to view children as â€œa costly impediment to self-fulfillment and worldly achievement.â€ Longman underscores the obvious truth that no civilization can sustain itself when fertility rates drop below replacement levels. That logic leads to the dicey conclusion of his article: â€œThe Return of Patriarchy.â€
But without doubt, the yearâ€™s most important contribution to the masculinity debate is Harry Mansfieldâ€™s tome, Manliness.
Mansfield doesnâ€™t hesitate to tweak the nose of feminist dogma. He claims that in the battle of the sexes, itâ€™s women who have always held the upper hand. Thatâ€™s because â€œEvery man is his motherâ€™s son and thus better defended by her than by himselfâ€ and because a womanâ€™s â€œadvantage over men is her total disregard of â€˜some God of Abstract Justiceâ€™ to which men are unable to be indifferent.â€
Mansfield concludes with the desideratum that â€œmen should be expected, not merely free, to be manly.â€ Why? Because â€œA free society cannot survive if we are so free that nothing is expected of us.â€
Just as I was poised to make my selection, a realization flashed in my mind: Masculinity is not a matter of mastery of pen or eloquence of tongue. No, at the end of the day, masculinity comes down to one thing: taking courageous action, especially in the face of improbable odds.
So at the last moment a dark horse candidate emerged.
Mark Inglis, 47, is a biochemist and mountaineer from New Zealand. In early April he began his climb up Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. On May 15, he miraculously reached the summit.
But hundreds have ascended Everest. So whatâ€™s the big deal?
Hereâ€™s the big deal: Mr. Inglis is a double-amputee, the result of a horrific 14-day blizzard in 1982. You view Mr. Inglisâ€™ picture here:
On the way up Everest, a fixed-line anchor failed, resulting in Inglis falling. One of his carbon fiber prosthetic legs broke in half. So he had to wrap it with duct tape until a spare could be hauled in.
In a pre-trip interview, Inglis remarked, â€œIâ€™m not doing this to be the first double amputee -- if I am then itâ€™s the icing on the cake -- but itâ€™s more about Iâ€™ve been climbing most of my life and Everest is the achievement really. And it gives you the knowledge of empowerment to do other things.â€
For taking courageous action, for persevering in the face of adversity, and for exemplifying the raw spirit of daring-do masculinity, the 2006 Award for Political Incorrectness goes to Mr. Mark Inglis.