Wolf, Mansfield on the Politics of Manliness

As the political world continues to buzz about whether Condoleezza Rice or Hillary Clinton will be the first woman president, the Harvard professor Harvey Mansfield, author of "Manliness," and Naomi Wolf, who taught Al Gore about earthtones, discuss the politics of manliness.

Mansfield: Manliness I define as confidence in a situation of risk, and I think men have that more than women.

Wolf: I don't know what bubble he's living in. He's making these sweeping arguments as if from this bubble in 1955.

Mansfield: Politics is a field of competition, and women are less interested in competition, just as they're less interested in sports. And, indeed, I think their interest in sports goes together with their interest in men more than in sports or in politics directly.

Wolf: I don't think women think about their political convictions in that kind of, you know, nitpicking way. I think they're more concerned about clean air, clean water, good schools, health care. His timing is kind of weird because in the wake of 9/11, there has been a spontaneous sort of fetishization of big, strong, powerful men who kind of kill the enemy without thinking about their human qualities.

Mansfield: It's also the case that authority, manly authority, needs to be prudent and sensible, and so it needs to be modified and qualified by prudence, you could say, or by intelligence, and often by the prudence of a sensible woman.

Wolf: You know, George Bush does listen to women. And one of the things Prof. Mansfield keeps doing in his book and in his message, and which I think it is very unfortunate, is he really defines a manly man as one who really doesn't listen to women and who essentially has contempt for women.

Mansfield: I'm not advocating that manly men in their excesses should be followed and obeyed. I'm just pointing out that manly is both good and bad, and that manly men have a certain nature which women must learn to understand and respect.