I wonder if the short series wasn’t in part an inspiration to Anthony Esolen to pen his (latest) super essay at Public Discourse. Esolen wrote about making sure that boys can be proper boys so that they can become proper men: “What Mothers Cannot Give to Their Sons”
Some mothers might be objecting that they give “everything” to their sons. Well, maybe so. And maybe not. Nemo dat quod non habet, as they say, or to put it another way nemo dat quod non ‘got’… no one can give what she doesn’t have.
Our sexes are different, with differing needs and abilities to receive and to give.
Esolen points out what always was and today ought to still be obvious but has been obfuscated. Biology matters. That’s the starting point for his considerations.
In revving up his presentation, he draws from The Twilight Zone (perhaps an analogy for our times) to George Gilder’s Sexual Suicide (US HERE – UK HERE), to Saint Jose Maria de Escriva’s “Esto vir! Be a man!”, to Kipling’s Captains Courageous, and (here it is at the end) Little Women.
The boy does not simply grow into manhood, for manhood is a cultural reality built on a biological foundation. Womanhood, by contrast, is a biological reality with cultural expression.
I must insist upon the distinction here. Saint Jose Maria de Escriva could understandably say to each of his male followers, Esto vir! Be a man, and we know what the exhortation implies. Even feminists know, and tremble. It implies that at any moment of a man’s life, his manhood is subject to trial, to be won, again and again, to be confirmed or to be canceled. A man can lose forever his right to stand beside other men. He can fall to being no man at all.
Be a man! An analogous command would strike a woman as otiose; a woman may call another woman a bad woman, but her womanhood itself is not in question, not in the public arena to be tested to see if it is real or counterfeit.
For the sake of boys and the families they must eventually lead, we must open our hearts and quit attempting to thrust upon them an unnatural and uninspiring commitment to sexual indifference. What they need, they need. Their needs are grounded in ages upon ages of human development, both physical and intellectual. They are attested to by every culture known to man, and by common observation. There is only one word for those who, for the sake of an ideology, whatever it may be, would consciously deny to either boys or girls what they need to be healthy members of their sex. That word is wicked.
So many ills in our society are born of this indifference. And not indifference only: there has been for decades now a suicidal society-debilitating war on boys and men.
Just watch the differences in the treatment of men and women in entertainment, such as movies and TV. Just watch the reduction of men to passivity and effeminacy and the rise of the nasty feminist on the back of the homosexualist activist. Just watch the effect of fatherless homes.
Esolen’s piece is a good starting point for thinking about society as a whole. More importantly and immediately, however, it is a tonic for our family homes and for our parishes… indeed our sanctuaries.
Fr. Z kudos.