Please update your browser

You're using a version of Internet Explorer that isn't supported by Questia.
To get a better experience, go to one of these sites and get the latest
version of your preferred browser:

Searching for a "New Feminism"

By Mansfield, Harvey C. | USA TODAY, March 2012 | Go to article overview

Searching for a "New Feminism"

Mansfield, Harvey C., USA TODAY

HAVING WRITTEN a book on manliness, I have been asked whether I have anything to say on femininity or womanliness. I do, but it takes the form of suggestions. I do not want to speak for women, as I think that each sex needs to speak for itself. It is quite natural for each sex to take its own side, and women never will simply accept a man's view--particularly not today, when they have acquired the habit of speaking for themselves, but I think they will listen, careful judges that they are, to suggestions from a friend.

How could a man be a friend to women? I notice that men who speak on behalf of the feminism of today--which I hope will become the old feminism--are tolerated even though they presume to put words in women's mouths. These men are manly defenders of the women who they say do not need to be defended by men. Though they act in manly fashion to protect women, they foreswear the manliness that inclines them to perform this duty. With their deeds, they contradict their words.

For too long, manliness has been silent in its own defense; it has been silenced by the voice of feminism. Yet, feminism, in the phase that began in 1963 with Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, was directed against femininity, not manliness. Femininity was the feminine mystique that had been imposed on women by men in order to subordinate females, even enslave them. According to Friedan, the ideal of femininity set women on a pedestal where they would be admired and adored by men. In this pose, women were not masters or mistresses, but servants who did little that they wanted to do for themselves. Disabled and passive, they lived for their families and husbands. Apparently admired by men, they were, in fact, controlled by men.

The feminists of the 1960s and 1970s were hostile to manliness more for its name, which seems to exclude women, than for its qualifies. They attacked the male chauvinist pigs who wanted to keep manliness for themselves; these men were sexist--a new label then--for believing that only males can be men. Simone Beauvoir's The Second Sex (1949), an earlier and more fundamental book than Friedan's, had argued that women were not different from men by nature, but only by history. It was a history of oppression by men that kept women from being as aggressive and assertive as men are. With the title of her book, Beauvoir implies that men live a better life than women, that manliness is better than femininity. Since women are perfectly capable of manliness, that quality no longer should be named for one sex. Beauvoir renamed it "transcendence," a gender-neutral term. The gender-neutral society was born and manliness as the quality of a sex was demoted to masculinity, a title that signifies such homely features as the hair on your chest and face.


Thus, feminism, in its eagerness to claim manliness for women, destroyed femininity. We began to see gangster movies with lovely actresses playing the role of hit men. Some feminists denounced the manly passion for competition and war but, in doing so, they had to be careful not to imply that women are unsuited for business or the military. Since the 1960s, we have become used to seeing women in men's occupations. Yet, the gender-neutral society created by today's feminism is not, in fact, as neutral as it claims. Despite its dislike of the word manliness, it is on the whole friendly to the quality, now under a new name, more neutral and prosaic, such as "leadership." On the one hand, the world seems to have been feminized, yet, on the other, it still is a man's world, and, in a strange way, even more so, because both sexes now are engaged in employments that reward the manly qualifies of aggression and assertiveness.

In sum, women have shown themselves capable in careers formerly closed to them, but no longer seem to enjoy the pleasures of being a woman. They know how to imitate men but are confused about how to remain women while doing so.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

Searching for a "New Feminism"


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.