Friday, January 29, 2010

American Gender

[Ransom wants to save his sex] "... from the most damnable feminization. I am so far from thinking...that there is not enough woman in our general life, that it has long been pressed home to me that there is a great deal too much. The whole generation is womanized; the masculine tone is passing out of the world; it's a feminine, a nervous, hysterical, chattering, canting age, an age of hollow phrases and false delicacy and exaggerated solicitude and coddled sensibilities, which, if we don't look out, will usher in a reign of mediocrity of the feeblest and flattest, and the most pretentious, that has ever been..." Henry James, The Bostonians (p. 343)

Prophetic.

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From Tom Wolfe, A Man in Full (1998):

"What the hell had happened to all those sons of the rich in Wally's generation, these well-brought-up boys who went off to the private schools? These damned schools were producing a new kind of scion of the elite: a boy utterly world-weary by the age of 16, cynical, phlegmatic, and apathetic around adults, although perfectly respectful and maddeningly polite, a boy inept at sports, averse to hunting and fishing and riding horses or handling animals in any way, a boy embarassed by his advantages, desperate to hide them, eager to dress in backward baseball caps and homey pants and other ghetto rags, terrified of being envied, a boy facing the world without any visible signs of the joy of living and without ... balls." (p. 149)