Tuesday, October 24, 2017

When the world turns

I saw the following tweet a few days ago that sums up perfectly the liberal attitude to our biological sex:

It's got everything in the space of a tweet.

The liberal starting point is a belief that what gives life meaning or dignity is a freedom to self-determine who we are (identity) and to pursue what we will (subjective goods). Therefore, as a logical follow on, our predetermined qualities (our sex, our race, our ethnicity) are thought of negatively as limits on our freedom.

Free yourself, shouts the liberal, from your manhood or womanhood, from traditional roles, from moral norm and standards, from your communal tradition, from your history and culture, from sexual complementarity, from traditions of beauty in the arts and architecture, from your faith. Strip yourself bare and be free! Be illimitable!

But the liberal cry is a dissolving one that makes us and what we have in common smaller, less meaningful and increasingly marginalised.

And there are people who are tiring of it. Youssef Sarhan's tweet drew over 3000 comments, nearly all of them critical. The world is turning, at least a little, away from liberalism as an orthodoxy.

Below is a selection of the responses to Youssef Sarhan. Some were from men, but many were written by women in defence of manhood:

One response had an interesting philosophical angle:

There's something to this. It is more usual to accept that we have a created nature and to seek to complete this to its highest and most developed form and to enact it within, and for the benefit of, a human community. If we reject this, as "limiting," we are suggesting that we can remake reality, and do so better than what we were, by nature, created to be. It suggests that we are not creatures existing as part of an order of reality, but uncreated and outside of it, like gods of the spheres. There is a hubris to this, alongside the loss of what is to be found when we are placed within a meaningful order of reality, rather than lost outside of it.


  1. Yes, his tweet aligns perfectly with your many posts analyzing the core idea behind (modern) Liberalism.

    Although I agree with you on the value of traditional roles that align with our biological realities, he IS correct that they limit.

    Luis Sanchez misunderstands. Each role you choose to accept limits you but rejecting "manhood" does remove the restriction on which role you can choose for yourself (and that role can be eclectically chosen from many common roles).

    1. If you reject manhood, and you are a man, you cannot develop a core aspect of your own created nature. So you limit yourself by rejecting something significant within your own nature.

      In my experience, we don't live well when we depart to any degree from a sense of "integrity of being". So life is more about "honing in" in a self-disciplined way to what holds together our sense of integrity of personhood, rather than expanding the boundaries of what actions are available to us.

      (Admittedly there are some exceptions to this - integrity does push us sometimes to break through to a newer, higher level - we tend to accumulate over time toward this. But this is not a random "select in any direction" process. It is a tightening in self-discipline until we arrive at a higher stage of something we are pushing toward.)

  2. "If you reject manhood, and you are a man" ?

    You are not a man, you are simply a male.

    Youssef Sarhan may simply be acknowlegeding that he, personally, is not up to the task. He may be looking for comfort and support.

    Historically, manhood has always been a traditional challenge and aspiration for young males, in every culture. Some cultures have formal rituals to mark it or test it. Many are we-know-it-when-we-see-it. We all recognize it, for instance, we realize that our own son has now become that man. It's not a measure of age.

    Maybe it's becoming too difficult for too many males in the West. Overwhelmed and bewildered, maybe they're rejecting and escaping from concepts of manhood and the understood constraints and responsibilities. Maybe they're increasingly confused about what is expected of them. Clearly, the point of it escapes them.

    They've lost confidence in both sexes.