Why the World Needs Men

Why the World Needs Men

No Apologies pulls no punches: the transformation of society into a gynocracy has been a disaster. But the attack on manliness is not merely an attack against boyhood or manhood: “Ultimately the attack upon the home, and upon the marriage of man and woman, is an attack on the God who made man and woman” (183). If we call “very bad” (or even toxic) what God has called “very good,” we call God a liar. God has made men to lead and protect and subdue the earth (Genesis 1:28). Christians ought to honor the high calling to which God has called men. This high calling, for the glory of God, is for the good of all.

Matt Walsh’s recent film, reviewed here, documented Walsh’s worldwide quest to find an adequate answer to the age-old question, “What is a woman?” In fact, Walsh’s film aimed to expose the incoherency of the radical gender ideology sweeping the West, especially as it has impacted women and girls. In his 2022 book No Apologies: Why Civilization Depends on the Strength of Men, Anthony Esolen exposes how radical gender ideology and its evil twin, feminism, are short-sighted in their attempt to “destroy the patriarchy” by demonizing manhood as “toxic masculinity.” The book’s defense of manhood, Esolen explains, is especially for the young boys in our society. Men are strong enough to withstand attacks. Boys are being destroyed before they reach manhood.

Drawing on nature, history, literature, science, common experience, and Scripture, Esolen defends a traditionalist understanding of manhood, an understanding that recognizes the good and unique differences between men and women and the consequently different roles for men and women in the family, society, politics, and the church. Men’s unique roles in these spheres are not for self-aggrandizement, as feminists would have us believe, but for the common good—and for the good of women especially. Men performing their roles well is good for all, for “[w]e cannot corrupt one sex without corrupting the other. Male and female stand and fall together” (xi). Thus, throughout his book, as Esolen highlights men’s unique contributions to civilization that cannot be replaced by women, he does so not to demean women but to promote the good of all of society, both men and women.

Esolen repeatedly rejects the doctrinal claims of modern feminism in No Apologies. He begins in Chapter 1, “Strength,” by exposing one of the most obvious falsehoods proclaimed by modern feminism: the false claim that men and women are physically interchangeable. A woman can do anything a man can do, and sometimes better, proclaim the feminists. With colorful examples from history and his own life, Esolen demonstrates that men and women are physically unequal, and the greater strength of men enables them to perform physical tasks which women cannot. The team required to raise a barn or cut down an oak tree with an axe is necessarily male, for such tasks stretch adult men’s strength to the upper limit, thereby excluding women from direct participation. Esolen qualifies his claim–there will be some very strong women who may exceed some men in strength. Despite this, Esolen argues, men’s average strength far exceeds the average strength of women, and that is what counts when dividing labor.

Men’s unique strength is not merely external and physical but also internal and emotional. Men have a stronger ability than women to quiet their emotions when a task at hand must be accomplished. Contrary to those moderns who would encourage boys and men to express their emotions by opening the floodgate of tears, Esolen encourages boys to become men and learn when they must stiffen their upper lips and accomplish the work that must be done. To counter the claim that masculine emotional resiliency is a mere cultural relic, Esolen cites example after example from the literature of societies all over the world, past and present, Western and non-Western, which tells of men who must withstand the pull of emotion in order to accomplish their pious duty to their people and their gods. Aeneas must leave his lover Dido to fulfill his divine calling to found Rome. The Chinese master, Confucius describes the good man as he who “obeys the sacred custom, and . . . does not permit the grief to master him” (19). Native Americans told the tale of an adolescent boy who resists his grandmother’s tears in order to brave the hunt to provide for his people and courageously kill the evil murderer, Klarrheit. For Esolen, men must not allow their emotions to disable them, especially when the family and nation are depending on them to act.

In his chapter “Agency,” Esolen explores men’s drive toward action, and how that drive has historically been used for great projects that have benefited both cities and all mankind. Whereas some today object, arguing that boys’ restless energy is learned from their upbringing, Esolen correctly points out that such a claim “defies not only everything that we know about the physiology and the behavior of mammals, but also the testimony of human cultures in every climate, in every age, and at every stage of technological development” (30). Boys and men have an energy that seeks “to change the face of the earth” (30). One way or another, men will act: either to destroy or to build up. Esolen describes how men acted in coordination to build aqueducts to bring fresh water to ancient Rome. Men of modern society, given the tools of the ancient world, would have neither the mental aptitude nor the physical capability to accomplish such a task. But such tasks are what make civilization possible.

If men are those who accomplish the frankly brutal tasks that are necessary for a city or country to even exist, then men and masculinity are not dispensable. Rather, man’s inner drive prompting him to shape his world according to his will is a foundation of a flourishing society. Yet modern academics and modern politicians have promoted ideas and policies that do not encourage boys to grow into the sort of men who do great things for the sake of their people and land. Esolen tells of the work of lawyer and professor of law, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, who coined the term “intersectionality”–an analytical tool that considers how overlapping identities can advantage or disadvantage individuals. Crenshaw’s intersectionality is for Esolen “the academic fad of our time” that has led Crenshaw to pursue policies directly detrimental to the needs of boys, such as the Equality Act (40). The Equality Act ostensibly promotes the interests of women and homosexuals, but in reality “is a dagger aimed at the heart of the healthy masculine camaraderie that builds aqueducts and lays pipelines” (40).

Modern society in America has been a disaster for boys and their potential development into men who would work to better their world. The government incentivizes family breakdown and the resulting fatherlessness. Modern education and college credentials are pushed as a cure-all, when in fact they discourage young men from pursuing the sort of work in which they would really thrive. Related to this, the trades and blue-collar work are improperly funded and discouraged as somehow less worthwhile than office work. Esolen suggests that we have structured society in this way in part because we believe the world runs on magic.

We no longer understand how things work or how things are built: like magic, special words or keystrokes are all that is necessary. Maintaining aqueducts, for example, is now done entirely through computers. What will happen when computers glitch or break? Men with know-how will have to work to repair and rebuild. Yet our society no longer produces such men. The focused, knowledgeable action of men built civilization: we have forgotten that fact to our detriment.

Men’s drive to shape the world is not merely physical. Citing psychologist Ellen Winner, Esolen explains how some men have a “‘rage to master,’ a consuming and obsessive interest in what fascinates them, often to the exclusion of more ordinary pursuits” (54).

Read More

Scroll to top