The best men I know are not hemmed within these masculine lines — they model traditionally “feminine virtues,” too, like compassion, endurance, and gentleness — nor would they suggest women cannot attain prudence, honor, and the like. Yet the link of certain virtues to masculinity is not meaningless, either. Whether it is a link of nurture, nature, or both, I can’t and won’t attempt to consider here, but masculinity is not an empty concept with no enfleshed reality. The aspiration toward courage in protection is especially strong. To protect, argues The Art of Manliness founder Brett McKay, is the most “distinctively masculine” role.
This is where Reno, Trump, and, if they accept the premise that “wearing a mask emasculates,” their critics all go awry: No virtuous and healthy conception of masculinity — be it more traditional and gendered or modern and egalitarian — should see a choice to protect the vulnerable as unmanly.