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The case for virtuous masculinity


ARE all men and boys misogynistic and inherently sexist and violent towards women? Judged by many of the women demonstrating after the death of Sarah Everard, the answer is ‘yes’. With signs such as ‘Stop men from killing, raping, harassing, abusing US’, ‘STOP KILLING US’ and ‘Educate Your Sons’, it’s clear that so-called ‘toxic masculinity’ is the target.

A similar attitude is evident in Australia where recently several women have come forward complaining about what they see as the Commonwealth Parliament’s toxic and misogynist culture. The campaign to call out male offenders is being led by ‘Australian of the Year’ Grace Tame, who suffered sexual assault as a school pupil. 

The feminist argument that all men are guilty and society is riven with structural sexism is exemplified by Jamila Rizvi’s opinion piece in two of Australia’s mainstream papers, the Sunday Age and the Sydney Morning Herald

Discussing Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s apparent inability to empathise with the women recently going public about alleged cases of rape and sexual harassment, Rizvi argues the reason is that, as a man, he is incapable of ‘empathy, kindness and taking time to listen’.

Rizvi goes on: ‘Australian society still conditions boys and expects men to be bulletproof and rash. To laugh at the chauvinist joke and call anyone who doesn’t a pussy. To brag about women as conquests, and to treat them as objects to be possessed then disposed of.’

Rizvi further vilifies men by arguing that they invariably protect their mates ‘instead of doing the moral thing’ and they always ‘do what they want, take what they want, and never apologise or ruminate on possible error’.

Additional evidence of the fatwa against masculinity comes from Victoria’s Brauer College where at a school assembly last week all the boys were made to stand and apologise to the female students for the unforgivable sin of being male. 

One mother describes her 12-year-old son returning home confused and upset: ‘He now has this misconception that everybody looks at him and males as predators or somebody wishing to do harm to someone in a sexualised manner – seriously, he’s 12.’

Such is the campaign to demonise men that the neo-Marxist inspired Safe Schools programme in Australia tells students there is nothing beneficial or worthwhile about masculinity and the Respectful Relationships programme wrongly characterises domestic violence as solely perpetrated by men against women.

Ignored is a report by the United Nations surveying 71 nations which concludes on the basis of factors including ‘intimate partner violence’ that Australia is a world leader in terms of treating women fairly and achieving gender equality.

That radical feminists present a misleading, superficial and jaundiced portrayal of boys and men should not surprise. Such is the prevalence of ‘cancel culture’ that any male who disagrees is vilified as sexist and condemned as complicit in women being abused and assaulted.

Witness the attacks on the head of the Australian Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, for recently telling female cadets they should better take responsibility of their own safety by not overindulging in alcohol, not being out too late, not being alone and not presenting themselves as overly attractive. If poorly expressed, such advice is common sense. 

It is not only men who defend men. The American libertarian feminist Camille Paglia in her book Free Women, Free Men argues that for too long ‘feminist theory has been grotesquely unfair to men’.

Opposing the generalisation that all men are sexual predators, Paglia writes: ‘The atrocious exceptions have been used by feminist theorists to blame all men, when over the whole of human history men have given heroically of their energy and labour and indeed their lives to benefit and protect women and children.’

Instead of portraying all boys and men as misogynist, sexist and violent, there is an alternative to ‘toxic masculinity’. Although often attacked as conservative and old-fashioned, ‘virtuous masculinity’ has much to recommend it.

Boys need to be taught by their parents, especially fathers, about civility and manners and that a key aspect of manhood is caring for, respecting and protecting women. Honesty, truthfulness and acknowledging that, regardless of gender, everyone has the right to be treated fairly and not abused are also vital lessons to be learned.

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Dr Kevin Donnelly
Dr Kevin Donnelly
Dr Kevin Donnelly is a senior fellow at the Australian Catholic University’s PM Glynn Institute and a conservative author and commentator.

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