Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Game, Nussbaum

While I have been guilty of sending people off to read Martha Nussbaum’s thoughts on Cosmopolitanism, I’ve never read Harvey C. Mansfield‘s Manliness . And I may never read it, thanks to Nussbaum’s killing review in which anger, eloquence, and contempt perform brilliantly under the direction of unwavering logic.

Nussbaum’s review which originally appeared in The New Republic, demolishes Mansfield’s work for being skimpy on facts, inconsistent with definitions, superficial with summary, and misguided in its focus. Apparently, Mansfield, a full prof. at Harvard, fallaciously assumes that all men must aspire to manliness, which is like saying all women aspire to feminism (side bar: why don’t they?? I‘m always but always surprised when women simperingly claim to “not be a feminist or anything”).

So, blah, blah, and yeah, it’s a perfectly executed review. But the reason I’m still thinking about it is because it made me laugh every time Nussbaum neatly flipped Mansfield‘s ungainly assertions off, sometimes with audacious flippancy--kinda like this:

Feminists, then, have not typically sought a society in which there are no gender distinctions. They have challenged imposed and unchosen gender norms that interfere with women's freedom and functioning….Anne Hollander has written eloquently of the way in which women have claimed the suit, that attribute of the successful man the world over, as their own, replacing with it those billowing petticoats that made women seem vaguely like mermaids, human on top and some hidden uncleanness below. But women's suits never have been and never will be precisely like men's suits -- perhaps because women have better fashion sense, perhaps because color-blindness is a male-sex-linked gene.


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