Eunuchly American literary figure(s)

I was all set to write a post about Sidney Sawyer, but when I Googled "Sidney Sawyer" and "eunuch" or "Sidney Saywer" and "neuter", the only links I got were to my own blog.

I had in mind a long-winded essay about how the best way to avoid raising a eunchoid son would be to have him read "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," but this took the wind out of my sails.

(Things are really desperate when all you get when you Google is your own stuff.)

To make a long post short, I think what's important about Sidney is that he is, literarily and metaphorically speaking, a neutered boy -- the equivalent of a eunuch. Not gay, not a sissy, or anything like that, but a pliant, obedient, well-behaved lover of authority who does as he's told, runs to the authorities for protection, undermines the accomplishments of others, and thwarts those with free will and stubborn independence. (And who in all probability would think sex is icky.)

Sid Sawyer has been on my mind lately because of a couple of posts about eunuchs -- one from a modern (mostly figurative) perspective, and the other from an ancient (more literal) perspective.

"The Dangerous Book for Boys" strikes me as a Tom Saywer/Huck Finn sort of restoration project in the making, and an antidote to the growing neuter movement. How could anyone in their right mind could object to that? I Googled the book to look for objections, and found none. However, it didn't take long for an angry whiner to come crawling out of the woodwork in the form of Glenn Greenwald -- a genuine Sidney Sawyer if ever there was one. I was a bit taken aback, but I shouldn't have been, really. It was just so in character for Greenwald to object to this book. So, so, perfectly fitting. His attack on "The Dangerous Book for Boys" is a true testament to the perpetually recurring nature of the Sidney Sawyer eunuchoid personality that is unfortunately as much a traditional American character as his brother Tom. IMO, the ideal American spirit is Tom Sawyer, not Sidney. I don't think most parents would want to raise a Sid Sawyer (or a Glenn Greenwald) as a child. Nor should the schools be encouraging the development of such personalities. (Instead of banning Tom Sawyer, I think they ought to make it assigned reading.)

Regardless of whether the Sid Sawyers of the world are comfortable with it, this stuff has important consequences -- some of which were discussed in a Wall Street Journal article that Glenn Reynolds linked yesterday:

You can't build a civilization and defend it against barbarians, fascists and playground bullies, in other words, with a nation of Phil Donahues.
Nor with a nation of Sidney Sawyers.

The author (Tony Woodlief, who also wrote "Raising Wild Boys Into Men: A Modern Dad's Survival Guide") amplifies:

The good father, then, needs to nurture his son's moral and spiritual core, and equip him with the skills he'll need to act on the moral impulse that we call courage. A real man, in other words, is someone who doesn't run from an Osama bin Laden. But he may also need the ability to hit a target from three miles out with a .50 caliber M88 if he wants to finish the job.

Not only do I believe that trying to take the wildness out of boys is a doomed social experiment, but I'm certain that genetic scientists will eventually discover that males carry the Cowboy Gene. That's my name for whatever is responsible for all the wrestling in my house, and the dunking during bath time, and my 5-year-old's insistence on wearing his silver six-shooters to Wal-Mart in order to protect our grocery cart. I only pray that when the Cowboy Gene is discovered, some well-meaning utopian doesn't try to transform it into a Tea Party Gene.

If anyone had the Tea Party Gene, it would have been Sidney Sawyer. He'd not only run from Osama bin Laden, but he'd tattle on the Tom Sawyers who risked their lives to go after him.

UPDATE: Many thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and welcome all!

Considering the recent forced mutilation of toy soldiers by educrats, I think a Tom Sawyer revival is long overdue, as the Sidney forces seem to be winning.

All the more reason not to forget about Tom!

posted by Eric on 06.16.07 at 04:09 PM


This is why I left the dreadful sisterhood of feminism, all she could do to break the glass ceiling was to castrate her way to the top while sucking out wombs at the bottom.

Nasty creatures those feminists, as a woman I am ashamed of what became of my gender. Gloria Steinem may have burned our bras but she left a legacy of sagging sized-DDD siliconed breasts hanging onto skeletal, anorexic bodies with botoxed stiffened faces endlessly screaming and whinning about the plight of Eve Ensler's vagina.

At 45, I am the last of the babyboomer sisterhood generation and I empathize with the reason males my age want nothing to do with women; Feminists turned us into the creepy creatures even I want to run away from.

syn   ·  June 17, 2007 7:34 AM

(And who in all probability would think sex is icky.)

Actually, you can even see some Sidney Sawyers in adult chat rooms. Misandry is so widespread today that women will go to sex chat rooms and then habitually denigrate men and and the way men act. A significant number of the men online will join in the chorus of criticizing male behavior, in an obsequious attempt to curry favor with those women.

Not On Your Life   ·  June 18, 2007 10:43 AM

If anyone had the Tea Party Gene, it would have been Sidney Sawyer.

What we need is a lot more of the Boston Tea Party gene.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

Tom Perkins   ·  June 18, 2007 11:02 AM

Eh, the first line of my post was a quote, and nothing was to be bolded. I apologize for my error. TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

Tom Perkins   ·  June 18, 2007 11:04 AM

While I didn't actually write about eunuchs or Mark Twain, you'll probably find this useful.

Grim   ·  June 18, 2007 11:13 AM

Somebody please let Tony Woodlief know there's no such thing as a ".50 caliber M88".

You can fire a .50 cal for 'short' distances, or an 88 for miles, or both in combination for lotsa reasons (and noise).

Also, an M80 is a good size firecracker, but I don't think it can be thrown 3 miles.

TombZ   ·  June 18, 2007 11:27 AM

The schools will make Tom Sawyer required reading about the time they make it required listening. Heh.

Jay Manifold   ·  June 18, 2007 12:42 PM

I think there was an M82 short-receiver fifty cal. Used in the cupola of the M60.
Don't you just love talk like that?

Anonymous   ·  June 18, 2007 12:56 PM

How can you be upset with the "Dangerous Book"? Did the man actually look into the tome?

I liked the book. Although I have daughters I plan to interest them in some of the material. The codes would be fun, the stories of heroes,educational, and building some of the toys will be entertaining.

I expect that killing and skinning a rabbit is out of the question. Maybe the nice lady next door will let me borrow her boys.

Don Wilkins   ·  June 18, 2007 12:57 PM

Couldn't you just throw the argument around and say that the Right is overly macho?

One could argue there's a preoccupation with manliness if you keep insisting that your opponents are sissy boys who would "tattle" on those going after Osama bin Laden (presumably a reference to those dickless types who recorded what was going on in Abu Grahib). Or that it's bothersome when a major candidate of the Classical Values party is talking about Double Gitmo.

Mind you, I have no problem with shit-kickers -- the problem is how to direct proper aggression at the people who deserve a beating versus the mere bystanders that our enemies are counting on getting harmed. And there's no problem with a few sissy girlie-men who want to make sure America stays American while fighting in the murk.

But feel free to discount what I've said -- after all, insisting that there's more to global terrorism than sissy prigs and he-men clearly shows what I belong to the former class.


The Mechanical Eye   ·  June 18, 2007 12:59 PM

Great piece!

Tertium Quid   ·  June 18, 2007 4:00 PM

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