Over the last two semesters, I’ve engaged a variety of groups on campus about the male community and the definition of manliness here at Hillsdale. My main question is: Why does our school exhibit a host of counter-cultural characteristics, while our general male population mirrors the effete masses of modern American universities?
Yes, the men here are good and moral men, but as a common body our resounding Instagram caption would state: “Look at the sweet men of Hillsdale College!” We do not emulate the traditional masculinity which many of our Great Books portray, nor the confident qualities women seek in their future spouses.
If I had to explicate this reality in an English-department-approved thesis, it would read as follows: Hillsdale male community, stifled by a pornographic culture and a pansified society, reflects the decline of traditional manliness across American college campuses.
Every Hillsdale student, regardless of gender, grows up in this pornographic age, and our Hillsdale bubble cannot filter out a lifetime of erotic indoctrination. Individual men are particularly at fault as our choice in movies, television shows, and iPhone Private Windows cheapens our sexual expectations.
A man has no need to risk rejection when everything arousing is immediately accessible and damningly exciting. Even those who purposefully continue to risk, find their perceptions of sex twisted with senseless perversions as pornography worms its way through the grey matter of their brain.
On this fault line, our men generally split into two groups: Those inhabiting the fringes of masculinity, and those participating in our craven hook-up scene. As this gap widens, the male community will lose the proper combination of restraint and risk-taking which is vital to the development of moderation, courage, and ultimately manliness.
While the overwhelming majority of our men know the purpose and institution for sex, our pornographic culture, inherited and/or personally maintained, perverts our natural sex drive and hinders engagement in worthwhile dating relationships. Hillsdale’s men are among the most virtuous collegians in the country, but we are susceptible nonetheless; equally fallen, and equally tempted. Pornography contributes to our male community’s divide, but our own acceptance of the broader, pansified society threatens to lock the feckless and the foolhardy in their place.
Society discourages men from overcoming challenges by propping up hollow idols of masculinity in entertainment. How many of our fathers and grandfathers share stories of how they physically fought and overcame bullies, or after a summer of hard work, repaired some car or motorcycle? Whether it’s television shows or mainstream music, modern entertainment floods our minds with false masculinity through effeminate or enslaved-to-lust characters who consequently steer hoards of young men toward a life of indolent pleasures.
Further, American schools contribute to this wimpish society by disciplining young boys against their nature. The paragon student in a kindergarten classroom is little girl who sits quietly and waits for the teacher’s instructions. Young boys squirm, they fight, they pick their noses — sometimes even each others’. This discipline soldiers on well into high school until men eventually effeminate themselves by retreating from the pain of correction and running toward the ease of indoctrination.
How many Hillsdale men have been in a fight? How many of us have built something marvelous with our hands? While manliness is more than fighting and fixing cars, the principle remains that overcoming obstacles, especially physically demanding ones, forges the foundational elements of manliness. A lifelong compliance with this perfidious society produces a pansified, unmanly, yet sweet, male college student.
The restoration of traditional manliness begins with intentionally practicing moderation and courage in our daily lives. Our pornographic hook-up culture will end when each of us learns to restrain our own bodies. The boys on the fringe of masculinity will grow up as they develop confidence by overcoming worthwhile challenges. The opportunities for courage at Hillsdale are not found in Odyssean deeds of bravery. Instead, courage here is small. It’s in defending friends, holding your ground in arguments, and not apologizing for every little thing you do. Courage and moderation are the pillars of confidence and the foundation of a culture of manliness.