Saturday, July 15, 2023

Musings on the Changing Roles of Masculinity and Femininity in America

By Rudy Barnes, Jr., July 15, 2023

David French and Senator Josh Hawley have contrasting views on masculinity.  French takes issue with a recent study by the American Psychological Association that finds “stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression are harmful.”  French agrees that “dominance” can be harmful, but believes that the other attributes of masculinity “have important roles to play.”

Senator Hawley asserts that “men have lost their way, with toxic masculinity, the feminization of America, the epidemic of fatherlessness and the crisis of boys portending the end of man.”  He goes on to warn that “no menace is greater to this nation than the collapse of manhood” which Hawley blames on a “woke” religion and politics.

French noted that traditional male roles are no longer limited to men, but are now shared by women who choose to compete with men in civilian and military careers.  And while the roles of women in America have advanced dramatically over the past 50 years, “men are falling behind women in higher education and suffering higher rates of drug abuse and suicide.”

It’s inevitable that the concept of equal rights in America’s libertarian democracy will continue to support changes in the roles of men and women that generate political controversy; but the traditional social and cultural dominance of men in America should neither stifle the social advances of women, nor sustain traditional male dominance.

Advances in the leadership roles of women in the military have been even more dramatic than in civilian roles.  As a 1964 graduate of The Citadel and a retired Army officer, I remember the trauma of admitting the first women at The Citadel in the 1990s.  Nancy Mace was one of them, and as a congresswoman she exemplifies the advances of women in leadership roles.

America is already divided on issues of race along partisan lines.  We should know from our experience with racism that political differences based on a person’s race or sex cannot be resolved in polarized partisan politics.   We must provide for the common good by promoting men and women as individuals with equal rights under the law.

If males are falling behind females in higher education and are suffering from a higher incidence of drug abuse and suicide, it’s not caused by less male dominance any more than more Black poverty is caused by less white supremacy.  Justice is not a zero sum game.  Civil rights laws can and should rectify inequities caused by racial or sexual discrimination.

Male dominance and white supremacy were never rights--only traditional anomalies that provided undeserved benefits to men over women, and of whites over blacks.  The radical right has wrongly opposed equal rights based on race and sex as “woke” politics, and all Americans should support the advances of women in civilian and military leadership positions.



On David French and How The Right Is All Wrong About Masculinity,  see

On Josh Hawley’s Thoughts About How Men Have Lost Their Way, and How to Save Them.  See

“Nowhere is the traditional model of male leadership held in higher esteem than at The Citadel, the

Military College of South Carolina. Since 1842 it has made leadership its hallmark, with the Citadel Man exemplifying the ideal citizen-soldier--that is, until 1993, when the first female applied for admission to the all-male corps of cadets. In defending its single-gender tradition in the litigation that followed, The Citadel recommended a separate but equal leadership program for women in a Women's Leadership Institute (WLI).  Columbia College was one of two women's colleges in South Carolina named to co-sponsor WLI; but the dean of the Leadership Institute at Columbia College resisted participation in WLI, asserting that a traditional military model of leadership is incompatible with the model taught at her college: "The central tenets of military leadership conform to clear directives from an officer, imitating the actions of a superior, standardization and regimentation, a "win-lose" operating mentality and unquestioned allegiance to the chain of command. Leadership education at Columbia College has a different philosophical base. It is not hierarchical, nor does it focus on regimentation or repetitive drill. Hallmarks of this model of leadership are entrenched in the operating principles of collaboration, shared governance, commitment to seek "win-win" solutions and decisions based on solid ethical premises." A retired Army general took exception to that description of military leadership: "After reading Dr. Mary Frame's explanation of military leadership, I was not sure what Army I served in for many years. She has a correct description of the old Soviet military leadership methods--always considered a weakness by Western military analysts." The Army War College teaches a situational approach to leadership that includes both the directive style of leadership needed in combat as well as more supportive styles required for operations other than war. Successful leadership in diverse operational environments requires a mix of both styles; there is no one best style of leadership for war and peace.  The Army, unlike The Citadel and Columbia College, is not a single-gender institution with one-dimensional leadership. Its leaders must be flexible, equally at home in civilian and military environments and capable of employing both directive and supportive styles of leadership, depending on the situation. The Army's model of leadership is based on the concept of professionalism, the values of duty, loyalty, integrity, and selfless service, and the need to maintain good civil-military relations. The new paradigm of the political soldier has its focus on the Constitution and incorporates the supportive traits required in operations other than war, such as negotiation and diplomacy. Most of all, it encourages interaction between the military and the civilian society it serves to ensure healthy civil-military relations. Samuel Huntington described the new strategic environment as one of clashing cultures, making his own traditional style of military leadership an anachronism, except in warfighting. For the military to be an effective instrument of national power in operations other than war it must have leaders whose concept of professionalism--their understanding of duty and loyalty—makes good civil-military relations a mission priority.“ See Rudolph C. Barnes, Jr. on Two schools of thought on leadership, in Military Legitimacy: Might and Right  in the  New Millennium, Frank Cass, 1996, at pp 114-115 in chapter 5. (posted in Military Legitimacy in Resources,, at pp 94-95).

On leadership roles in the military, see The Diplomat-Warrior: A Military Capability for Reconciliation and Peace at (9/3/16); also  The Legitimacy of an Authoritarian Military in a Libertarian Democracy, see; also 

Musings on a New World Order Based on Reconciliation, not Conflict; also; also 

Musings on Military Legitimacy in a Post-American Era at

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