Gender roles: adaptivity, not control

Two of my personal favorite blogs, The Thinking Housewife and The Spearhead, hit on the same idea this week. What is exceptional is that they approach it from opposite angles: traditional Christianity and the Men’s Rights movement.

Thanks to Nietzsche, modern people of a certain intelligence and above cannot look at morality without thinking that it is a control mechanism whereby the herd (undifferentiated, unexceptional people) attempt to control the exceptional so that the exceptional do not inconvenience anyone else with their designs of a better society. The unexceptional desire consistency and, as Plato said, their pleasures necessarily coming before any form of long-term thinking. The exceptional want to organize, impose social order, and strive toward goals. The two are incompatible which is why class war is a necessary condition in every society; you might blame the Dunning-Kruger effect, saying that the proles just don’t understand what the exceptional are thinking and so oppose it out of inertia and ignorance.

Laura Wood at The Thinking Housewife does her best to bring our Nietzschean pragmatic logic, a Darwin-inspired form of adaptive behavior, into line with traditional Christian moral thinking, in which the goal is not so much morality relative to other humans, but to a sense of divine order or God (you can believe in this without dualism, if you wish; replace “God” with “nature” or “fractals” or even LSD if you must).

Traditional sex roles have to do with both morality and survival. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Society has changed culturally and materially in the last half century, but one thing is no different. Human nature is the same. Child development has not changed at all. The evolution of mind and body over the course of the first 18 years of the individual’s life follows essentially the same path it has followed for many thousands of years. The basic psychology of male and female also has not changed.

Regardless of what has caused the abandonment of traditional sex roles, there is no question it is harmful to society at large.

From 1976 to 1997, the percent of U.S. mothers with children under 18 who worked full-time and year-round increased from 20 to 42 percent. Between 1970 and 1994, child welfare declined staggeringly. Rates of infant mortality, child abuse, child poverty, teen suicide, high school dropouts, and youth crime all rose by levels that Harvard professor Richard Gill, in his book Posterity Lost, called stunning. That doesn’t mean that in every home where mothers are working, these things exist. It means that on a societal level, the abandonment of traditional sex roles has harmed child welfare dramatically. The number of children unattended at home after school rose from 1.6 million in 1976 to 12 million in 1994. Illegitimacy rates are almost thirty times what they were for whites in 1960. (This figure is affected by the decline in fertility of married women, but it is still astronomically higher without this factor.) Divorce rates since the early 1970s, when no-fault divorce laws were instituted in nearly every state, have skyrocketed too and divorce is proven to have negative consequences for many offspring well into adulthood.

During that same period, the incidence of drug use, sexual experimentation and delinquency among adolescents in affluent families rose significantly, according to Brian Robertson in his book Forced Labor. Studies have shown that these are all more common in homes where parents are absent during the day. School shootings were virtually unknown in the 1950s and 60s. – The Thinking Housewife

How could that be? In gender roles, we have party A (the man) and party B (the woman). When they’re equal, there should be no conflict, we think. But we are only looking at causes, or the actions we take, not their effects. Effects are wider-ranging, starting with the point that we cut out party C — the one we always forget — who is not only non-human, but can be a number of roughly parallel actors: God, divine order, Darwinian order, pragmatism. When you think about it, no sane religious person separates God from nature and thus Darwinism, as these are the mechanism of God, so we can conflate these factors.

Party C may be the most important party. The marriage itself; the purpose of family; the orientation of society toward family. When you remove party C and have party A and B in some kind of conflict, there is no glue to hold them together, so they drift apart and we entirely lose the sense that they work together at all. Family becomes optional. Love becomes convenience. And at first, this sounds like a good thing. Greater individual freedom! No obligations! Do whatever you want, and the sex is free. But — and there’s always a but — the problem is that family is the fundamental unit of our social order, and by sacrificing it, we put A and B into a social situation where they are vulnerable and have no necessary source of help (except government of course, which is of dubious value unless you want to spend the rest of your life a nobody in the ghetto collecting checks).

Here is where W.F. Price chimes in with the missing part of the puzzle. He writes about Laura Ingalls Wilder, of “Little House on the Prairie” fame, who grew up on the frontier, married a good man and then had to watch as he was nearly crippled by a debilitating disease. The couple struggled for the next two decades and were able to finally gain a measure of financial independence, after much hardship, and not only keep their family together but have a reasonable middle class life. Price writes:

For his part, Almanzo was fortunate to have a wife like Laura. But then again, he was far from alone in this blessing. She did what any man of the time would have expected of a wife. Certainly, Almanzo had no intention of falling ill and spiraling into debt in the first few years of marriage, but these things happen, and rather than guilt, he felt more appreciation for the sacrifices his wife made, and as soon as he was able he pulled the family back up from the skids. In the beginning of his marriage, Almanzo “failed” in a many ways. Because they rarely spoke about intimate matters in those days, we can only imagine the frustration and sorrow the young family faced during those hard times. From the evidence, all we can see is that they overcame it together. The young couple must have taken their wedding vows seriously — what an odd concept!

Today, despite the huge increase in comfort and prosperity, a young couple like the Wilders in their first few years of marriage would be out of luck. Preachers would be hollering at Almanzo that he “isn’t a real man” because his wife has to work to support him (oddly, preachers seem to think telling their female congregants that their husbands are losers will prevent divorce — are they stupid, or evil for that?), Laura’s friends would all be telling her to dump the loser and move on as a single mother, and even her parents might do their best to shove them apart. Laura probably would have divorced Almanzo to live an unfulfilling life as a single mother and schoolteacher, and Almanzo would have a diminished life as a noncustodial parent working lousy jobs just to pay his child support and keep himself fed and clothed — he’d certainly have no motivation to do any more. All that potential the couple had would be squandered by the combined onslaught of social conservative and feminist man-blaming, which is really nothing more than social pressure pushing women away from constructive family roles as wives and mothers. And of course, if it all finally turned out to be a big tragedy for the young family, all the righteous types would smirk and say “see, it really is your fault Almanzo, because you are an inferior man, and didn’t deserve Laura.” Then they would set about “changing” men to make them better, because something must be wrong with men for this to be such a common occurrence. – The Spearhead

We either stand together or we fall together, as the saying goes. With a family unit, party A and party B have something to fall back on that is stronger than either member. Even more, they have an expected social path into which they can go and thus expect support from the community, because when the family is the granular element in a community, it becomes essential to preserve for all involved. With that kind of invisible Party C in place, the type of social order that groups men and women together to sustain each other, people are less “free” to flake out and bail out — but as a result, they are stronger and can thrive where alone they would have too much going against them.

Through this example, we see how gender roles are not slavery, but a method of adapting to our environment — but since we’re talking about long-term consequences, it’s an “invisible” environment, a party C like social order or God that we cannot see but whose consequences we will feel. Our conventional mythos that gender roles are a method of control makes little sense, since without them, we are better subjects for control by economic forces and government regulation. Could it be that our controllers found an easy way to lure us into something labeled “freedom” that was in fact a form of slavery?

Sexual liberation is a devil’s bargain in that it sounds good, like anything with the words “freedom” and “fun” attached would. However, it doubles the work force, thus halving what any one person can expect in actual value (purchasing power, regardless of dollar amounts). It reduces people to individuals who then have no help and must run their households themselves, which is good for landlords — they won’t be affording homes in most cases, and they won’t have much free time or time to take on that second job and get over a hump. Instead, they are slaves to themselves. And that is the devil’s laughter wherever sexual “liberation” is spoken of.

9 Comments

  1. Justin says:

    Women embraced feminism for the promise of empowerment, men embraced it for the promise of more sex.

    On a related note, another odd psychological effect I have noticed, perhaps related to the one you mentioned, is when you bring up the idea of polygamy to young men (I have done so in the context of college classes). They invariably think of what it would be like to have multiple wives. They don’t immediately realize that polygamy means most men won’t have wives.

    But like you said, people are too dumb to realize their own failures, and we are continually led by the nose by the false promises of feminism. We are living through the failure of democracy.

    1. Jo says:

      And the next logical thought: Polygamy (with males being the spouse of multiple women), wouldn’t the women in such a society be more highly valued by their men since there is so much competition for spouses? Let’s leave aside tyrannous groups such as the Taliban, who use the power of young men’s hormones to twist them into ugly women-haters. Does much of the ancient cultures of the middle east actually revere women? A Jordanian woman friend of mine assures me so. Perhaps we can’t understand such a culture because women are so protected and cherished by their households that we can’t see the joys and pleasures they experience. The women are too hidden.
      Personally, I wish it were acceptable in my culture for my husband to have more than one wife. I have felt this way for many years, wishing for a sister-wife to share the toil and joys of motherhood (and to stop me being tempted to feminize my husband to meet my need for feminine support). I definitely believe my husband to be one who could cherish and revere more than just me, and keep more than me happy. Unfortunately, the societal rewards that living this way attracts in a polygamous culture would not be available for him/us. Instead of being looked up to as a leader, he would be derided as a greedy, chauvinist, pervert.
      Feminism has a lot to answer for. So many women are unhappy. So many men feel hopeless. Feminism has told women, they don’t need to be lovable to be valued. BULLSHIT. Women need to be loved. That is our primary need and central to our and our children’s survival. Feminism has told women men can’t fulfill this need. BULLSHIT. It’s what men exist for – to love, protect and cherish women. As soon as you tell him he’s not capable and tell women it’s weak to expect him to try, you’ve tipped the precarious balance between the genders and the whole, dare I say, eco system tumbles into disarray.

  2. crow says:

    “…the proles just don’t understand what the exceptional are thinking…”

    I say it like: People don’t know what they don’t know.
    As in: People are unable to understand a viewpoint they are unable to imagine.

    Hard to get one’s head around, if one is one of those who do not understand.
    Probably impossible, in fact. So how to tackle it?

    Great article!

  3. [...] Multicultural Mystique, by Harriet E. Baber“, “Spread Too Thin“, “Gender Roles: Adaptivity, Not Control“, “The SUV Paradox“, “Moving Away from the Subsidy Model“, [...]

  4. Jessica Metaneira says:

    I can’t say I agree with this perspective. Marriage and gender roles have many downsides along with the upsides.

  5. Dave says:

    “Women embraced feminism for the promise of empowerment, men embraced it for the promise of more sex.”

    Well, first of all, men generally *didn’t* embrace it. Second, feminism is not just about freedom to have sex, as I’m sure you know. Third, to the extent that it does involve more sex, it’s only to the extent that women can have sex if they choose; if that means men get to have more sex too, then there’s nothing wrong with that as long as it’s something women are choosing.

    “Through this example, we see how gender roles are not slavery, but a method of adapting to our environment”

    Oh really. First of all, since when are those two things mutually exclusive? It could be both. After all, you could see normal slavery as an adaptation to one’s environment too, such as the environment of having too much cotton to plant.

    Second, who’s adapting exactly? The women? Well, that adaptation obviously didn’t work that well for them, at least not when there was no choice involved. And what’s the environment? The situation such that men are unwilling to accept women into the workforce?

    “Our conventional mythos that gender roles are a method of control makes little sense, since without them, we are better subjects for control by economic forces and government regulation.”

    Non sequitur. Even if the last clause is true, it doesn’t follow that gender roles are *not* a method of control.

    “Could it be that our controllers found an easy way to lure us into something labeled “freedom” that was in fact a form of slavery?”

    So Susan B. Anthony was one of “our controllers”?

    “However, it doubles the work force, thus halving what any one person can expect in actual value (purchasing power, regardless of dollar amounts).”

    What?

    “…the proles just don’t understand what the exceptional are thinking…”

    If they’re that exceptional, perhaps they can explain it better.

  6. evayanchina says:

    “..something labeled ‘freedom’ that was in fact a form of slavery..” I would say it is postive from the Yin and Yang philosophy’s perspective as well, they are two sides of the same coin.

    “Hard to get one’s head around, if one is one of those who do not understand. Probably impossible, in fact. So how to tackle it? ”
    I used to think education being helpful.. but people are so different from many ways, it’s hard to change who they are in a simple act.

  7. Dave says:

    “I would say it is postive from the Yin and Yang philosophy’s perspective as well, they are two sides of the same coin. ”

    You mean the getting to do what you want side and the having to do what they say side? Yeah, perfectly balanced.

    “I used to think education being helpful.. but people are so different from many ways, it’s hard to change who they are in a simple act.”

    Since when is education a simple act?

  8. [...] http://www.amerika.org/social-reality/gender-roles-adaptivity-not-control/ This entry was posted in North American New Right and tagged articles, Brett Stevens, feminism, [...]

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