Belmont Club

The Late Great Manly Man

Bethany Mandel of PJ Media cites a New York Times article to argue that “women prefer manly men” by inferring from the frequent use in the NYT of the word “submission” some sort of innate desire for a masterful quality. But as the Telegraph points out, submission is often directed towards incompetence. In an article titled “Why women can’t resist bad boys,” Caroline Kent writes:

like many women, I have an illogical soft-spot for massive jerks. There is something about bad boys that we find incredibly appealing, even though we often regret the experience afterwards.

I’m so drawn to their powerful/sensitive/artistic (delete as applicable) natures that it allows me to rationalise away their abusive, selfish, sarcastic or psychopathic side, until it’s too late. I don’t know whether it’s chemistry or foolishness on my part, but let me try to explain why we – or at least I – do it.

Many women are now attracted to men who can’t find their way out of the woods and not to the sort of men who own the woods.  The appeal of such lost men is considerable and they go out of their way to enhance it. Woody Allen consciously adopted the persona of a nebbish. “As a comic, he developed the persona of an insecure, intellectual, fretful nebbish, which he insists is quite different from his real-life personality.” Why? Because being the loser gets the gals.


By contrast, who likes the manly man today, really? For thousands of years — at least from Beowulf — it was customary for men to stand for the “ashes of their fathers and the temples of their gods.” Now these are the guys we send off to die. We don’t even want them to win. And in fact, the job of every modern enlightened president is to stop them before they do.

Do you think any of us are ever going to marry a movie star?

Do you think any of us are ever going to marry a movie star?


Somewhere along the line, things changed. It became cool to be the anti-traditional manly man.  As Roger L. Simon realized, there was no market among the best and the brightest for Lone Survivor. Roger writes, “I was thinking about that this morning while perusing the Oscar nominations for this year. As an Academy member, I had voted but did not see my number one selection for Best Picture — Lone Survivor — anywhere on the list of the nine nominees. I can’t say I was surprised. Lone Survivor is a patriotic film and patriotism isn’t high on the list of positive traits for Hollywood these days, except perhaps to that group of once-secret outliers known as the Friends of Abe.”


It is now unfashionable to be the old manly man. When the Obama administration launched a campaign to attract enrollees into Obamacare, did they they front up a two-fisted, hard-drinking, cigar-chomping he-man?  Hell no. They employed “Pajama Boy” to lure the mice into the trap. This is who they reckoned the rising generation would admire. The heck with aspiring to be a test pilot or an astronaut. What people want today is the “funemployment” guy; the thing who drinks hot chocolate in his parents’ basement preparatory to selling them on subsidized, crap insurance. Pajama Boy is the new beau ideal.  Why would the PR men have used his visage to grace their ads if women preferred “manly men”?

Fatal Attraction

Fatal Attraction

You can make the half-serious argument that in order to be a winner in today’s world it pays to be a loser.  After all, you get subsidies. You get sympathy. You can play the victim card. Above all, you get the girl.

This inversion has been achieved by the counterintuitive method of degrading women. One website that endeavors to explain why women like losers points out that the taste for losers is achieved by making women losers themselves. Here are the reasons given for why a woman would like a deadbeat. “We don’t believe we are worthy. … We’re afraid to be alone. … We think we can teach a dog how to speak. … We’re losers ourselves! … We’re afraid to get hurt.”

This last is interesting but quite logical. Many a woman out with a Pajama Boy-type is probably reassured by the fact that at a pinch she can thrash him within an inch of his life and therefore feel safe with him.

But the insight of mutual degradation may provide the right clue. We probably seek people in proportion to our own aspirations. Our romantic goals are formed from our inner state. If we develop a taste for basements, then we look for stuff there. Civilization has lost its taste for manly men, not because those vanished figures are any less admirable but because steadfastness, courage and the need to be true have gone out of style.

Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific
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