Glenn Stanton closes his article Manhood is not natural* with an odd question:
The question is, how can we recover manhood today? We must find the answer. For it is not only the fate of men that is at stake, but the fate of our women, children, and society as well.
The question is odd because Stanton has just explained how good men are made. According to Stanton and his philosophical father Gilder, good men are made by the magical civilizing power of women’s sexuality. According to this thesis, women naturally just know what is good, and use the power between their legs to create civilization by steering men. In a separate youtube video, Stanton explained that he was a sort of Peter Pan manboy until his wife took charge and made him into a man:
My situation, I grew up as a skateboarder in the panhandle of Florida. Surfer. I was a good kid, didn’t get involved in drugs, didn’t do bad things. But that was my life. School, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time in that. So I continued in that, after I got married and Jackie said, “you know what Glenn, here’s how it’s going to be” and what did I do? Okay, I guess I’m going to have to go to college. I was scared to death of college. Didn’t think I could survive there. Didn’t think I could compete there. But this woman was making me do something, this either or, so I went and did it and I became a better person.
Again, I would have never imagined that I get to do the things that I get to do today. Written a number of books, things like that. But I am who I am because Jackie said not you can do it, you will do it. And every man here knows that that’s true. So the bargaining chip for the man is, it’s going to work out better for me if I be what she wants me to be.
It’s quieter at home, she’s more likely to make the kind of food I like, I’m going to get physical access to her more often…
Yet Stanton also is arguing that the reason women are choosing single motherhood (in any number of ways) is because the men they encounter are Peter Pan manboys, just like he was before his mommy-wife married him and took charge:
The majority of women want marriage and babies, and usually quite dearly. They don’t need to be talked into them and never really have. Ask women today their biggest obstacle to achieving this goal. It’s not a shortage of males, but of responsible adult males. Men. If they cannot find marriageable men, they often go with other choices. It’s no coincidence that the two fastest growing family formation trends are unmarried cohabitation and out-of-wedlock childbearing among twenty- and thirty-something women.
Stanton has been making this case for years, including in his 2011 book Secure Daughters, Confident Sons: How Parents Guide Their Children into Authentic Masculinity and Femininity:
If women can’t find good men to marry, they will instead compromise themselves by merely living with a make-do man or getting babies from him without marriage. Unfortunately, this describes exactly the new shape of family growth in Western nations by exploding margins…
Women want to marry and have daddies for their babies. But if they can’t find good men to commit themselves to, well… Our most pressing social problem today is a man deficit.
Which is it? Do women naturally marry Peter Pan manboys and turn them into good men, like Stanton’s wife did? Or faced with men like Stanton to marry, do women instead naturally opt for a life of promiscuity?
This is the dilemma. Stanton wants to blame men for the fall of civilization while giving women credit for civilizing men. How do you put women in charge while claiming that men are responsible for every bad outcome? One seemingly promising answer would be to blame fathers for not making Peter Pan manboys like they used to, and Stanton indeed makes this case:
Manhood Is Taught
The opposite is true of manhood. As George Gilder explains pointedly in Men and Marriage, “Unlike a woman, a man has no civilized role or agenda inscribed in his body.” The boy has no onboard GPS directing him toward his future. His transition into manhood can only come into being with significant, intentional work by other men. As a behavior, manhood must be learned, proven, and earned. As an identity, manhood must be bestowed by a boy’s father and the community’s larger fraternity of men. His mother can only affirm it. She cannot bequeath it.
But then Stanton directly contradicts this by arguing that fathers are (and should be) just the pawns of mothers, who do the mother’s bidding.
The woman is not only the stabilizing force of male sexuality; she is the authorizing factor in fatherhood. If a particular man desires to be involved in the life of his child, it is the child’s mother, and she alone, who determines whether and how he may do this.
If this is the case, blaming fathers is just a round about way of blaming mothers! And it doesn’t help to take it back another generation, or 50 generations.
The only way to get around this circular logic would be to posit that somehow, women’s vaginas have either lost their way and are no longer beacons that can be trusted to point to goodness, or they still point to goodness, but they have lost their power. I won’t speculate on which of these possibilities would be more horrifying to Stanton and the women he is pandering to, but it is clear that neither suits his goal of denying women’s responsibility for their own sins while crediting women as the source of civilization.