Anthony Esolen in his new book, “Out of the ashes” gives the reader a “trigger warning” regarding a quote from Henry James’ novel, The Bostonians, in which the character, Basil Ransom expresses his desire to save men from the most “damnable feminization.” I have often used the term “feminizing” in my blogs. The quote expresses the changing climate of the culture with the passing of “The masculine tone.” I have some misgivings with the last statement, but it strikes me as almost a necessary consequence as men struggle to express their true masculine voice. There will be stiff opposition. Here is the quote:
“The whole generation is womanized; the masculine tone is passing out of the world; it’s a feminine, a nervous, hysterical, chattering, canting age of hollow phrase and false delicacy and exaggerated solicitudes and coddled sensibilities, which, if we don’t look out, will usher in the reign of mediocrity, of the feeblest and flattest and the most pretentious that has ever been. The masculine character, the ability to dare and to endure, to know and yet not fear reality, to look the world in the face and take it for what it is – a very queer and partly very base mixture – that is what I want to preserve, or rather, as I may say, to recover; and I must tell you that I don’t in the least care what becomes of you ladies while I make the attempt!”
Could it be that the masculine tone is being drowned out by the ascending, demanding and unapologetic voice of the feminine, which wants to demean the masculine. For example, why do we need female reporters in men’s locker rooms after the game or providing commentary during football games played solely by men? While the voice of the feminine has brought necessary correctives to gender equality, it seems to me that in many cases the feminine voice has lost the sense of equality and propriety that is necessary for the men and women to rightly relate to each other. Men are left confused and uncertain as to their God given role as men. I wonder if all the rhetoric being absorbed by our culture, has not brought a tone that is more nervous, hysterical, espousing coddled sensibilities, rather then robust debate, resolve and determination.
Could it be that this feminine tone is ushering in a “reign of mediocrity” in which the call to moral character and sacrifice of self is missing. It seems we have become preoccupied with devaluing the natural order of creation rather than working together to bring harmony and balance to our cultural narrative. I have never understood why we need “women warriors” deployed in the defense of our nation. It is innate in the heart of man to protect and defend. In the name of gender equality, we have dumbed down the requirements of a warrior. Thus, “the reign of mediocrity,” even in the armed forces.
Could it be that “masculine character” is less apparent in the call for restoration of our nation. I still appreciate Leanne Payne’s definition of masculinity. “At the heart of the true masculine is the power to honor the truth and to move forward in the truth, as it is spoken and lived out.” I admire greatly the man who speaks the truth, lives by the truth and will take “the heat” for speaking the truth. “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take you stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you” (Gal. 5:1). This includes the demands of radical feminism.