Manliness by Harvey C. Mansfield; Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent
The American male has been feeling blue. Whether from a loss of power in a postfeminist society, a dearth of dependable jobs, or the absence of compelling role models, he is said to be in the throes of a “masculinity crisis.” Worse, the problem has trickled down, becoming what Newsweek has belatedly noticed as a “boy crisis.”1 Young males tend increasingly to be poor readers and restless students, and to lack the interpersonal skills demanded by our information economy. In higher education, as has been widely reported, 58 women now enroll in college for every 42 men, with the ratio worsening by graduation time as males drop out in larger numbers.
These two new books add to what is by now a sizable literature on the troubles of today’s American male. In many ways, they could not be more dissimilar. Harvey C. Mansfield, the author of the brusquely titled Manliness, is a distinguished scholar of political philosophy at Harvard. Norah Vincent is a hip, young New York journalist and self-professed “dyke”; in Self-Made Man, she recounts her journey into American life disguised as a man.
About the Author
Kay S. Hymowitz, a contributing editor of City Journal, writes frequently for COMMENTARY on social and cultural issues.