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Life Arts    H4'ed 1/27/14

At least Stephen Mansfield's book title doesn't sound cowardly

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) January 27, 2014: Progressives and liberals should be on the look out for any sneaky new initiates by conservative white guys trying to inspire movement conservatism. We don't want to be blind-sided.


I know, I know, conservatives, by definition, tend to favor the old and familiar. Therefore, it may be an oxymoron to speak of new initiatives that might inspire movement conservatism.


So perhaps I should say simply that Stephen Mansfield is trying to inspire and possibly reinvigorate movement conservatism, or at least the conservative white Protestant Evangelicals -- they're the voters that Karl Rove keeps hoping will vote Republicans decisively into office. The way in which Stephen Mansfield is trying to build up these would-be white Republican voters is sneaky. It is so sneaky that it probably never occurred to Karl Rove to try to do this. Of course, sneaky or not, it remains to be seen if Stephen Mansfield will succeed in firing up the conservative white Protestant base in the Republican Party.


In brief, Stephen Mansfield aims to help conservative white Protestant Evangelical boys and men work out a specifically masculine sense of identity. This is a worthy aim. In addition, to his credit, he claims, "There is nothing in this book that diminishes women, dismisses women, or denigrates women" (page 10). Good for him.


QUESTIONS: For Stephen Mansfield's book to work as a proposed remedy, this proposed remedy presupposes a problem that needs a remedy. But what problem, if any, are conservative white Protestant Evangelical boys and men in need to addressing? And why didn't Karl Rove think of this remedy?


Stephen Mansfield says, "Men are in a crisis" (page 15). I agree that men today are experiencing a crisis in masculine identity.


As I will explain momentarily, I am describing the supposed problem that Stephen Mansfield is addressing as the need for boys and men to work out a specifically masculine sense of identity, which they do in relation to other boys and men.


In addition, he stresses that each given boy or man must receive acknowledgment and recognition of his distinctively masculine sense of identity from other men. As a matter of fact, he tells a moving story about how he came to learn about his own need to receive acknowledgment and recognition from other men (pages 3-8). He was 42 years old when he learned this about himself. He learned this about himself in Damascus from the acknowledgment and recognition that he received from certain Arab men. This story alone is worth the price of the book to read. But it is tragic that Stephen Mansfield did not receive such meaningful acknowledgment and recognition before he was 42.


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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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