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A Book Review… Masculine Strength Means A Strong Society

March 13, 2023 Featured Today No Comments


No Apologies: Why Civilization Depends On the Strength of Men by Anthony Esolen (Regnery Gateway).

No Apologies is a book that’s just right for our times — during which timeless truths about the essentiality of masculine virtues are widely being denied. This is to the detriment of both sexes, and the traditional family which is so critical to society.
Although the work is not a Catholic one per se, it in many ways mirrors Church positions. For example, Esolen stresses that it is natural that men and women work for the common good, but both in their own ways — a harmony seen as “complementarity” in the Catholic view. “Men and women are made for each other,” he asserts.
This complementarity, of course, fosters civilization.
And Esolen emphasizes that no civilization’s structure is built, and maintained, without masculine strength — physical, intellectual, and otherwise. This, of course, should be obvious. “I am writing a book that should not have to be written,” are the first words of its introduction. But the obviousness is greatly clouded in our current feminist climate.
So Esolen provides abundant evidence that the various male strengths are indispensable to civilization. More important, he demonstrates that men employ them primarily to benefit those about whom they care — and ultimately, society — rather than themselves. In doing so, he counters what amounts to a generalized prosecution of men and boys — for the supposed crime of being male — in academia, popular entertainment, the dominant “news” media and elsewhere.
In defending maleness, he objects to the term, “toxic masculinity,” which, though he doesn’t say so, was coined by feminists to devalue men, at the very least. While not now circulated as widely as in recent years, the anti-male misperception it promotes remains in currency to no small degree. There is nothing “toxic at all about either the masculine or the feminine,” Esolen observes, “except inasmuch as bad men or bad women make use of their faculties to hurt other people. . . .”
Boys are harmed “in our schools and in mass entertainment,” he notes. “They are told there is something wrong with them because they are not like girls. They are also told that girls can do all of the physical things they can, and perhaps do them better — an absurd falsehood….Those who speak this way want the boys to be weaklings, to despise their own sex, to doubt their natural and healthy inclinations.”
Esolen more than hints at reasons for this and other deliberate denigrations of maleness. “The school, run not by your neighbors but by the juggernauts of the teachers’ unions, the publishers of textbooks, and the ideologies of the programs that teach the teachers, is not in the business of helping boys to become…the heads of strong families,” he says. Rather, “the school thrives, if you can call it that” when it assumes “more and more of the family’s tasks and performs them badly enough to warrant calling for more funds” for itself.
Moreover, “The state grows by family failure.” That should be apparent to anyone recognizing how Democrats (Esolen names no political party) have increased their power by weakening the traditional family. This was done as the fatherless one, over decades, was favored through federal financial assistance policies. For example, a father’s absence from the home once brought more federal aid to those living in it than they otherwise would have received. And as families without fathers increasingly relied upon the state to put food on their tables, the mothers heading them commensurately fed it their votes.
While not thick (about 200 pages), No Apologies has great scope. Esolen makes use of history, mythology, poetry, literature, music, other art, “mass entertainment,” science, religion, philosophy and more in the book, which he has written “to return to men a sense of their worth as men, and to give to boys the noble aim of manliness, an aim which is their due by right.”
This aim, properly realized, benefits the whole of a society. “No apologies” are necessary for masculinity.
Despite all the ground it covers, though, some might think the book doesn’t go far enough. For example, it offers no debunking of the feminist-imposed societal assumptions that virtually all females’ claims of sexual assault or harassment by males are valid, and that favoring females over males in employment opportunities works to the good of a society. Moreover, Esolen offers no strong criticism of abortion, despite the way its acceptance weakens true civilization. These are just some examples of what might have been included. But the overall menu Esolen does bring to the No Apologies table is hugely satisfying.
Nevertheless, there are those likely to find his faulting of feminism to be too harsh. But that just demonstrates how severely successful have been the societal prohibitions against criticizing it: They can make anything but silence regarding the damage done by feminism seem unduly loud.
And anticipating the complaint that his book is sexist, Esolen says that “. . . because I am defending men here, it will appear that I am disparaging women. I am doing nothing of the sort. Every strength in one respect . . . is a shortcoming in another. . . . If men are more aggressive” than women, “they are also more violent.” Esolen also makes other comparisons illustrating the positive and negative traits of both sexes. (Yes, there are only two sexes, he makes plain, briefly mentioning the “utterly mad ‘transgender movement’.”)
There may be readers who would criticize the book as being highbrow, even eye roll-inducing, in its numerous literary references. For example, wouldn’t the problems Esolen exposes in No Apologies be considered sufficiently dramatic without his citing, sometimes rather lengthily, plays — by Shakespeare, Aeschylus and Homer — to help support his arguments?
On the other hand, some readers with such a complaint may be those incapable of comprehending anything more substantive than the most frivolous “social media” posts.
Religious references also appear throughout No Apologies. Among them are those to Jesus, God, male and female saints, angels, the Tao, Catholicism, and the Bible (whose quoted passages, it must be noted, are from the non-Catholic King James version, unless otherwise indicated). In many cases, Esolen’s defense and promotion of masculinity, which so greatly benefits males and females, are strongly supported by such spiritual citations.
But the overall case he makes — including the need for the “genuine gratitude of each sex for the other” — could also be embraced strictly in the spirit of common sense.
(Editor’s Note: Wayne Tryhuk is a widely published freelance journalist.)

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