What makes a man?

Harvey Mansfield discusses the concept of manhood.
  • Transcript


Question: What makes a man?

Harvey Mansfield: So manly means confidence in the face of risk. And that, I think, is a quality that’s not necessarily called a virtue, that you do see more with males than with females. Women have a certain confidence, but it’s … they don’t seek out the risk the way that most manly men do. And I hasten to say that not all manly men are good in fact; at least half of them, I would say for a start, are not good. You can face risk in order to do terrible deeds. So … so like the Islamic hijackers who took down the World Trade Center. But on the other hand that’s the only way to counter them is with countered manliness. So in the manliness of the policemen and the firemen in New York who went up the World Trade Center, knowing there was a very good chance they wouldn’t come down. So it’s … it’s …manliness is not necessarily something good. It’s not necessarily a man. It could be a woman. My example is Margaret Thatcher, I would say was the mightiest woman of our age. And there are other formidable, manly women. But for the most part, it’s a quality that hovers over the male sex.

Recorded on: 6/13/07