Making a Case for Strong Men - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Making a Case for Strong Men

Men are endowed with inherent powers that should be deployed to advance the greater good. Unfortunately, the woke police have labeled these powers as “toxic masculinity” and pressured men to suppress their natural talents and instincts to society’s detriment. That is the central argument of social commentary writer Anthony Esolen’s latest book, No Apologies: Why Civilization Depends on the Strength of Men, which will be released Tuesday.

Peppered with literary examples of strong men in action, No Apologies is a wake-up call to Western society to stop marginalizing the traditional male role. Esolen maintains that history owes a debt of gratitude to men as their physical strength, stoicism, and protective inclination enabled them to build cities, fight wars, and provide for their families. Esolen argues that men and women by their nature have different strengths with correlating downsides. For instance, he comments that a man’s raw physical power also facilitates his capacity for violence and makes him more susceptible to disease. A woman’s empathy is similarly a double-edged sword, as it provides her with the intuition to help others but it also enables her to manipulate situations to her own advantage.

Esolen dedicates an entire chapter to men’s natural affinity for a team structure where every member has a specific role, such as a football team. He posits that since men believe that a hierarchy where some functions are subordinate to others is essential to every system, process flow, and team, they view society’s current obsession with creating systems where every participant has an equitable role as unpractical and inefficient.

The author also endeavors to dispel the notion that the male-only institutions of the past and present were designed to oppress women. He argues that the team provides men with the companionship and affirmation they need as they manage their respective responsibilities of protecting their families and communities. Esolen further asserts that men’s motivation to live up to their responsibilities comes from their love of their families instead of a need for self-actualization.

Esolen also maintains that our society does not appropriately value physical skills. He recommends that instead of blanketly directing all high school students toward a university education, we should be cultivating a skilled labor force. The author argues that many young men have the physical fortitude, mechanical dexterity, and risk tolerance for physical labor such as construction and welding. Furthermore, as these positions are well-compensated, these young men would have the income to marry and start a family.

Esolen asserts that society functions better when men embrace their natural physical and psychological competencies and families adopt a division of labor that plays to men and women’s respective talents. Esolen introduces the book with the following caveat: “Because I am defending men here, it will appear that I am disparaging women. I am doing nothing of the sort.” This admonition was clearly necessary as Esolen demonstrates a propensity for making broad declarative statements without providing evidence that could be interpreted as disparaging to both sexes. For example, he claims, “Men do not see colors with the same boldness that women do. Women do not see things in distant and coordinated motion as keenly as men do. Men often miss the trees for the forest. Women often miss the forest for the trees.” 

The author, who perhaps longs for the days when men were the breadwinners, takes issue with the normalization of the two-income household, especially amongst white-collar professionals, who he describes as “having been taught to consider their careers as primary and their children as accessories.” Once again, Esolen undercuts his excellent observation about society’s misplaced value system by inadvertently insulting women who choose to contribute in the workplace.

No Apologies: Why Civilization Depends on the Strength of Men makes a compelling case for men to embrace their masculine physical and psychological attributes for the betterment of society. However, Esolen’s argument for destigmatizing masculinity would have been stronger if he had refrained from making sweeping generalizations that unintentionally undermine both sexes.

Leonora Cravotta
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Leonora Cravotta is Director of Operations with The American Spectator, a position she previously held at The American Conservative. She also co-hosts a show on Red State Talk Radio. She previously held marketing positions with JPMorgan Chase and TD Bank. Leonora received a BA in English/French from Denison University, an MA in English from the University of Kentucky, and an MBA in Marketing from Fordham University. She writes about literature and popular culture.
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