Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Can feminists set the terms of sexual liberation?

One thing that feminists stand for is sexual liberation. But sexual liberation from what?

Relationships can be oriented to sex, to romantic love and to marriage. In most cultures, there is an element of each, but the balance can change.

For much of Western history, culture was directed primarily toward marriage. A man in such a culture will be looking for a woman to be his life partner and a mother for his children. He is therefore likely to value a woman for her beauty, her intelligence and her good nature. In upper class culture it was also important for a wife to be of equal social standing, of good reputation and to be suitably accomplished.

If you read Jane Austen's novels (from the early 1800s), you notice a change in the mix. Austen continues to disapprove of relationships oriented primarily to sex; there is a condemnation of flighty younger sisters who pursue sexual flings with men of doubtful character. Propriety and family honour do still count for something in the Austen novels.

But Austen also portrays as villains (or as figures of fun or pity) those who marry in the interests of their families. We are to act more in terms of our own individual emotions and not be swayed so much by issues of family connections.

By the end of the 1800s, Western culture was more oriented to romantic love than it had previously been. What does a man focused on romantic love look for in a woman? An idealised feminine beauty, grace and goodness.

By the 1970s, second wave feminists began to demand sexual liberation. What this meant, in its historical context, was the pursuit of relationships by women without regard to marriage or to male expectations of romantic love.

It's not surprising, therefore, that feminist women often spoke negatively of women being put on a pedestal (idealised) and of marriage being an oppressive feature of a patriarchy.

And so feminism helped to usher in (with the help of male sexual liberationists like Hugh Hefner) the modern culture we have now, in which many young people are oriented to casual sexual relationships.

But there's a catch. What do men who are oriented to one night stands look for in a woman? One thing: hotness. That's what matters most if all you are looking for is sex.

And this enrages the feminists who helped usher in the sexual revolution. They complain unceasingly about women being sexually objectified. Just recently I read an article by a feminist woman on the theme of "what I want in a man". She wrote:

I want men who don't bet on sleeping with women, who don't rate women on their appearance on a scale of one to ten. I want a man who ... doesn't base his treatment of me on how hawt I am.

Feminists seem to expect men to value them for their intelligence, their accomplishments, their character, their status and so on. But to get this they would need to support a culture more oriented to marriage, in which men are selecting a life partner. This they can't do as they want to be liberated from such a culture. But it is inevitable that men who only want sex from women will mostly value sex appeal, i.e. "hawtness".

Little wonder that feminists get so angry and frustrated. They're caught in a trap and it's only likely to get worse. There is a growth in the "game" or "seduction" movement, in which men are adapting to a culture based on casual sex and picking up. Although it's possible for men who want a longer-term relationship to use these seduction techniques, those men leading it tend to be very "sexually liberated", which means that what they value in women is hotness. It doesn't matter so much to them if a woman is kindly natured, good with children, admired socially or compatible in her personality. Why should it if what they are looking for is sex alone?

Feminists aren't getting what they want. Yet, as full-blooded moderns this is what they think they are owed. They have the modern technological mindset that things should be arranged so that their own will and desire are sovereign.

What specifically do they want? Women who are oriented to marriage will be looking for men who will make good husbands and fathers. They will want men who are stable, conscientious, hard-working, loyal and family oriented. But a "sexually liberated" feminist has set herself against all this. She wants to pursue relationships without regard to marriage.

This leaves her freer to pursue socially dominant men or to seek out drama in relationships. So there are modernist women who keep pinning their hopes on a "Mr Big", even if such men never commit to them and there are women who select edgy kind of men, the bad boys who take risks or who are untrustworthy or who are capable of violence or who break the law.

The problem is that these preferences do not give women control. Pursuing casual relationships with socially dominant men or risky men puts women in a weaker, vulnerable position.

So there are feminists who seek various social technologies to give them the upper hand, so that it is they and not men who have "agency" in the relationship. They want to ensure that sexually liberated relationships ultimately play out on their terms.

What have been some key policies of second and third wave feminism? Abortion on demand has been one and this is predictable if you are a woman who wants to technologically manage a culture of casual relationships.

And then there is the issue of rape, which is an obsession with some feminist women. What's important to note here is that the obsession is not with criminal rape - with the few men who act against the law to violently attack women. Feminist women are far more interested in "date rape" - with some feminists openly advocating the idea that women could be given absolute power in relationships through date rape legislation.

Here's how one feminist woman believes she could get 100% personal sovereignty in sexual relationships via date rape laws:

Imagine that all women are considered by the courts to abide in a perpetual state of non-consent. “No” becomes the default position, and does not require re-stating at any time. In fact, “consent” would not apply to women at all; we would exist as inviolable entities, 100% human beings with full personal sovereignty, the way men do now. We could, if the idea didn’t gag us with a spoon, have as much heterosex as we want, but the instant we don’t want, the dude becomes, in the eyes of the law, a rapist. This shifts the onus onto the dude not to be a barbarian. He can reduce his risk of being sent to the gulag by ceasing to rape, dominate, prod, cajole, shame, nag, or act like a prick. He can avoid it altogether merely by keeping it in his Dockers.

But, again to the frustration of feminists, the date rape tactic isn't working. In part, this is because most people still think of rape as a serious criminal offence rather than as a social technology. Therefore, most people are inclined to defend men who unfairly suffer the accusation. So there are feminists who want to tone down the criminal aspect of a rape accusation. Catherine MacKinnon, for instance, once wrote that,

Politically, I call it rape whenever a woman has sex and feels violated. You might think that's too broad. I'm not talking about sending all of you men to jail for that. ["A rally against rape" Feminism Unmodified]

Note that it is a woman's feelings or will, rather than any clearly defined act, which defines rape, thereby giving women the ultimate power and control in a relationship and that MacKinnon seeks to downplay the idea that all men would suffer criminal sanctions.

Here's another example:

I claim that rape exists any time sexual intercourse occurs when it has not been initiated by the woman, out of her own genuine affection and desire. [Robin Morgan 1974]

Rape here is redefined in terms of female agency; what matters is not a lack of consent but that what happens is a product of female, not male, desire.

Most women, it should be said, do not follow feminists in rejecting marriage in principle. It's common, though, for women to think of their 20s as being "sexually liberated" and then to finally orient themselves toward marriage in their 30s. This means that they seek different qualities in men, or perhaps even different kinds of men, at different times of their life.

Consider this online advice to men about what women look for:

Forget about the theory that women like bad boys. While this may be the case with some women in their twenties, most mature women have had their fill of bad boys. Monroe women and any other women are now looking for a nice, kind, caring and thoughtful man.

This switching of preferences in a woman's 30s won't always work. It means that when men are in their youthful prime (ages 15 to 35), they will be asked to adapt to women who aren't oriented to marriage and who are looking for casual relationships with bad boys. By the time women are ready to switch it will often be too late. Many men will have grown out of their instinct to be husbands and fathers and some might harbour resentments towards women. Women who have spent a decade or more pursuing the drama of casual relationships might find it difficult to settle into a more predictable pattern of married life.

And it represents too a waste; the person we are supposed to have the most significant connection to, our spouse, will not be the person we share our youthful passions with.

Should we then return to the situation of the 1980s in which culture was oriented more strongly to romantic love? No doubt this was a more spiritualised and less crude culture of relationships, but it was inadequate in its own way. What kind of wisdom or foresight does a man require for romantic love? What kind of concern will he have in his relationships for his family, his community or his tradition? None. He can be a fool for love.

There's an English film, Love Actually, which even celebrates this aspect of a romantic culture. It portrays couples who fall romantically in love in ways which dissolve all other considerations. The Prime Minister falls in love with the tea lady. An English writer falls in love with, and commits his life to, a Portuguese woman he cannot speak to. One couple fall in love whilst acting in a pornographic film.

The evidence seems to be that it's difficult to integrate the romantic and sexual lives of men and women outside a culture that has a serious orientation to family. Feminists thought that they could control the outcomes of the sexual revolution in favour of female agency, but many seem to be angrier than ever about a culture of relationships that they themselves largely instigated.

53 comments:

  1. Nicely put, Mark. Of particular interest:

    Feminists seem to expect men to value them for their intelligence, their accomplishments, their character, their status and so on. But to get this they would need to support a culture more oriented to marriage, in which men are selecting a life partner. This they can't do as they want to be liberated from such a culture.

    Exactly. What this boils down to is "I want men to be gentlemen but I don't want to be a lady." But the two go together - no ladies, no gentlemen. It's infantile to believe that it can be otherwise. While it is true that by Old School standards a gentleman treated all women chivalrously, even if they didn't merit it, that only works, like everything else, if the majority knows, and at least makes a show of, following the rules.

    To be fair, this does cut both ways. I've run across countless men who throw tantrums at any suggestion that their own juvenile crudity and self-indulgence is at all blameworthy, who yet have an extraordinary sense of entitlement to "ladies". But this can't work, either.

    This process of "hawt-ization" of Western sexual mores, as you point out, has been going on for a long time, and, if exacerbated by, is not a product soley of the '60s and feminism. It really revved up in the latter half of the twentieth century, but is plainly apparent in social commentary from the immediate post-WWII years, well before the Pill and second-wave feminism.

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  2. It really revved up in the latter half of the twentieth century, but is plainly apparent in social commentary from the immediate post-WWII years, well before the Pill and second-wave feminism.

    Rohan, thanks.

    Yes, there was a shift during the twentieth century. I'd still say, though, that the 1980s were more tilted to romantic love than the culture of today.

    You can see it by comparing the pop videos of the time, which were more often romantic love ballads featuring beautiful, elegantly dressed models, whereas today more of the videos are overtly sexual with lyrics along the lines of "I want your booty".

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  3. This is a very important and well-done piece. Thanks.

    Agricola

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  4. But isn't that what Feminism in the 1970's intended. A system where a woman had to stay married to a man no matter how much he raped, threatened and mentally abused her, to a system where they have a choice.

    You just don't like that you don't have that control anymore.

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  5. Compulsion is applied from above as self discipline relaxes below.

    We have increased regulation of the sexual sphere, "consent is sexy" etc. However, this is not in a vacuum, its happened at the same time as sleaze culture, and people trying to take advantage of each other. If the "game" was just about trying to appear attractive to women it would be no big deal. It goes hand in hand with women are the enemy, get what you want from them without regard. Should one sex act in an irresponsible manner the solution is not to join them in the sty and see who can throw the most mud. Otherwise we'll see nothing but lawyers and state "educators" forever. I’m sure the Swedes are very well regulated in the bedroom.

    "Exactly. What this boils down to is "I want men to be gentlemen but I don't want to be a lady." But the two go together - no ladies, no gentlemen."

    I understand the point but don't fully agree. Wanting fun without responsibility is like saying I want ice cream, I'm just going to eat ice cream all the time. Just getting what we want is only part of life. Being a gentleman or a lady is about restraints, expectations and considerations. Its about higher appreciations than simple looks or fun. This is profoundly more satisfying (if we just rate things in terms of satisfaction) than random directionlessness or unpleasant hook-ups and won't go out of fashion. That means to get a gentleman women will be ladylike.

    When it comes to matters of family the concern is that the family, while necessary, was not a fully equitable institution. While lip service may have been payed to "oh she's the boss at home" women were in the weaker position in many ways (although no doubt that can be debated) and too often subjected to the caprices of their partner. Until this is addressed issues of family will be suspected.

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  6. @ HooHoo

    "You just don't like that you don't have that control anymore."

    Everything can be turned around. "You just don't like that you didn't have control!". It's a pathetic waste of text.

    We should be working towards some sort of middle ground with respects to control not "giving it all to women to make up for men having it for so long". That just leads to repeated cycles of hatred when men fight to get it back again.

    Please grow up :)

    OP, it was a masterfully written piece and i shall be linking all my friends to it as they've been increasingly showing interest in the subject and this makes a great starting point.

    Thanks.

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  7. Broke your heart, didn't she!

    No, that's not my story. I'm happily married and very much appreciate women.

    You just don't like that you don't have that control anymore.

    My post was about the rage felt by feminists of today at not having the control they think is owed to them.

    What happens when we think that there should be no limitation on our personal "agency", so that we have the unimpeded power to enact our desire on the world?

    If men and women desire different things in a relationship, then there will be a struggle for ascendancy and control.

    In a state of "sexual liberation" men and women will mostly have different expectations of relationships.

    "Liberated" men will want sex with hot women - but only a minority will be so favoured by the most sexually attractive women. Men who are looking for romantic love will be disappointed by a female culture more oriented to hypergamous relationships with powerful men or dramatic relationships with bad boy men. Men who are looking for marriage and family will be dispirited by a female culture which has deferred such commitments to middle age.

    Many women, for their part, will be dismayed by a male culture which values them for their hotness (and perhaps their youth) and little else. They might also be disappointed by a male culture which tends to produce recessive men rather than the more actively self-confident types they seek for relationships.

    When a culture is oriented more to family formation, then there is something "objective" to harmonise the expectations that men and women have of each other.

    In my own marriage, my wife and I have distinct roles that we are happy with and which contribute to the well-being of our family. We don't make individual desire the end game, nor do we have incompatible desires - and therefore there is no struggle between us for "agency" or "control".

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  8. Agricola & Veldan, thanks for the positive feedback - it's appreciated.

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  9. In my own marriage, my wife and I have distinct roles that we are happy with and which contribute to the well-being of our family. We don't make individual desire the end game, nor do we have incompatible desires - and therefore there is no struggle between us for "agency" or "control".

    So you've got the formulae right. Why go on and on about the need for more laws to enforce social standards and the requirement to encourage individuals to refuse personal ownership and choice? You're proving by example that complementing each other is the key to having a happy and successful life. That's the real way to convince people your path is a good one. If all you do is complain to other conservatives you undermine your own position because people read it and think you're a fuddy duddy loser.

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  10. Love this post, sent it to my Girlfriend and sat down for a long and in depth talk about gender identity through the ages. Top stuff and a great convo starter.

    Keep em coming...!

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  11. Why go on and on about the need for more laws to enforce social standards

    I don't think I've ever written about "more laws to enforce social standards". My theme has been the effect on social standards of a political philosophy, liberalism.

    If all you do is complain to other conservatives you undermine your own position because people read it and think you're a fuddy duddy loser.

    Most people do still want to end up happily married. And there are a lot of people, not just conservatives, who find the current culture of relationships problematic. So raising these issues is a way of reaching out to people's real concerns.

    I know there's an image of a "sexually liberated" person being someone who is cool and in charge. In my workplace, though, the trendier, attractive, middle-class young women are marrying in their early to mid 20s and they seem much happier than the older women in their mid-30s who bought into third wave feminism, who are still unhappily single and childless, but who still reject a culture of marriage in favour of casual relationships with unsuitable men - with these men being no longer as interested in them.

    There doesn't seem to be a way through for these women in their mid-30s, as they don't like their relationship status, but have been brought up in a "liberated" culture of relationships which will most likely keep them unpartnered.

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  12. "There doesn't seem to be a way through for these women in their mid-30s, as they don't like their relationship status, but have been brought up in a "liberated" culture of relationships which will most likely keep them unpartnered."

    Well women will have to come to the party and work it out. But we shouldn't gloat at them. They are trying to make it in a career world where they are historically ingénues and seeking property and status, which is the sort of thing we take for granted.

    Should women make it in the career world? Well it does lead to complications doesn't it, but hopefully its not all bad.

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  13. Mark,

    I tend to agree with what you have written in this post.
    There is something I find rather frustrating though. As a conservative, Catholic woman with traditional values I do not find it easy to find a man who appreciates that. And if I dare complain about it I get the response "well this is how you women wanted it to be, you are equal now so deal with it."
    Why do I get blamed for what some women in history have done? Mark do you really believe that men are blameless? I am interested as to whether you believe it is simply women who have brought us to the position we are in today or whether men had something to do with it. And why so many men look at you like you are a gold digger if you have the normal, female desire to be a stay-at-home mum one day?

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  14. Cadence Interrupted, it's my own view that since the West is now Apostate and has largely rejected The Gospel, then as we sink further into paganism, women are going to be treated generally with less dignity. Feminism probably tried to correct certain aspects of this, but by refusing The Gospel (traditional Christian values) it has only added to the problem.

    I don't think it's the whole story to be blaming men or women. I think we can blame the so-called Enlightenment etc.

    It's very hard for young, committed Catholics to find a suitable man or woman to marry.

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  15. "And why so many men look at you like you are a gold digger if you have the normal, female desire to be a stay-at-home mum one day?"

    This could be an Anglo thing? I know other cultures have more stay at home mums.

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  16. "And why so many men look at you like you are a gold digger if you have the normal, female desire to be a stay-at-home mum one day?"

    The problem here is that once a woman leaves the workforce, she becomes "dependent" in that marriage (i.e. dependent on the husband for her income).

    If there is a divorce, this "dependency" factors heavily into the level and length of alimony. If the ex-wife has been out of the workforce for a long time, it is conceivable the man could be paying support for the rest of his life.

    With the high possibility of divorce, it is only self-interest (if not a particularly admirable one) that makes men react like this.

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  17. Mark do you really believe that men are blameless?

    It depends on from what angle you look at it. For some decades male culture has been reactive to female culture. For example, there were women's magazines like Cleo and Cosmo around for at least a decade before equivalent men's magazines like FHM appeared. There has been an androgynising trend within female culture for a few decades, whereas it's only recently that there are signs of some heterosexual men becoming effeminate in an equivalent way. (See here for an example)

    From another angle, though, the changes reflect an underlying liberalism for which white heterosexual men are mostly responsible.

    It's a good question which I'll try to answer more extensively later.

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  18. An excellent and thought-provoking post, Mark!

    I do think you're a tad hard on the film 'Love Actually', though. ;-) For all of the pitfalls of romance, the film isn't as absurd as you have made out. For starters, the Prime Minister may find that a tea lady whose bent is toward hospitality and children (as shown in the film where he pursues her to a school Christmas pageant) is far better suited as a wife than a high-powered, over-educated career woman of his "rank". Likewise, the writer who proposes to a Portuguese cleaner has fallen in love with her in large part because of the way she cares for him and the fact that she comes from a traditional culture (as compared to his ex who created on him with his brother). These men aren't just pursuing romance; they're looking for a stable, traditional relationship between the sexes. Some of the other relationships in the film are also fairly supportive of family life - it would be unrealistic to expect them all to be! - such as the wife who is being cheated on who takes her husband back. As for the couple who meet on set, it should be noted that it is not a pornographic film but that they are body doubles filming a sex scene in such a way that the sexual aspect is totally downplayed - their relationship is clearly about a compatibility built on rapport, not sex. I suppose what I'm saying is that whilst it's Hollywood this romance isn't as foolish as it may seem. And I'm sure the writers would point out that it's about "love, actually", not romance.

    The other thing that springs to mind reading your post is that I don't think the Austen novels herald as much of change as you may suggest. Women before then did not marry purely in the interests of their family and they continued to consider these interests both in Austen's time and well into the twentieth century. A minor point, but I think it's important to realise how difficult it is to trace societal change due to the subtleties and lack of clear demarcation.

    Finally, in response to Cadence Interrupted, I too have experienced the derision of those who do not value women who are oriented towards wife/motherhood as a vocation. I have found this comes as much from women as men, and I suspect that men would be less wary if we did not live in a society in which they are under attack as men. Women have taken everything from them - their roles as providers, protectors, and so forth - so it is perhaps unrealistic to expect them to trust women to not fleece them... as unrealistic perhaps as expecting that a woman might actually want to play a traditional role! That said, as long as staying at home and taking care of the home and children is not seen as 'work' and as something less than a career, then the situation cannot be amended, and women are more to blame for this situation than men.

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  19. "That said, as long as staying at home and taking care of the home and children is not seen as 'work' and as something less than a career, then the situation cannot be amended, and women are more to blame for this situation than men."

    There are many examples of traditional families in western societies, largely in the ethnic communities. It comes with all the fun of institutionalised domestic violence, subordination of women and honour killings. No doubt this situation is satisfactory for many men and women. But it cannot be considered an equal relationship, nor one where the respect given to women is little more than lip service, "Blessed are you for not having made me a women".

    Whilst not accusing supporters of traditional families of this it is not as far removed as you might wish.

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  20. Jesse_7 said: "There are many examples of traditional families in western societies, largely in the ethnic communities. It comes with all the fun of institutionalised domestic violence, subordination of women and honour killings."

    I don't believe that recognising women's roles as wives and mothers in any way causes or justifies the things you have mentioned. These outrages have more to do with the demeaning of women. It's quite the opposite, in fact. Respecting women in their traditional roles and valuing what they are and do undermines the culture of violence and oppression. Feminism does not liberate these women but merely destroys the social fabric of their lives and turns them into something they and their menfolk do not want.

    I agree traditional families need to be aware of the dangers that can befall them, but these apply to all families... and I certainly do not think that traditional roles necessitate any inequality of the abhorrent sort you have mentioned.

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  21. "I agree traditional families need to be aware of the dangers that can befall them, but these apply to all families... and I certainly do not think that traditional roles necessitate any inequality of the abhorrent sort you have mentioned."

    I appreciate your point and don't want to be a smart ass or undervalue some of the problems of contemporary relationships but I think its more than coincidence that the things discussed appear more often in traditional family oriented cultures. If a women is subject to the law of her husband transgressions can be punished by the husband. In such an environment male domination is the norm. A good husband in such an environment will be "fair" but it won't be an equal relationship.

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  22. Great post Mark. Thank you.

    Jesse 7 wrote,
    "...I think its more than coincidence that the things discussed appear more often in traditional family oriented cultures."

    Who are these "traditional family oriented cultures"? If you mean to say traditional non-White peoples, then it is inaccurate to compare traditional non-Whites to liberal Whites and then somehow claim that you've proved something about traditionalism vs. liberalism. Domestic abuse is unheard of among the Amish (a traditional people of European-descent) who live in my area.

    You must of course first isolate your variable.

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  23. Jesse 7:

    One more thing. You write, "A good husband in such an environment will be "fair" but it won't be an equal relationship."

    But men and women can never have an "equal" relationship because men and women aren't "equal", i.e. they aren't the same. "Equality" is an illusion.

    This doesn't mean that women are lesser than men or that men are lesser than women, but simply that they are different.

    And any two things that are different cannot at once be the same.

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  24. I am a 1970's 'feminist'; I defined myself as such for the primary reason that I was denied the right to go to university (which I fought against and won), and I did not want children (and never had any, for which I am neither regretful nor smug). I find it fascinating to look at feminism from a purely sexual/gender role viewpoint. I can't help think that 'feminism' when I was young is alot different to 'feminism' now, simply due to the fact that times change. Young women have had the doors open for them by older women like me, and men, and perhaps the new 'feminism' is sexual acting out. Hmmm. I will visit this blog again.
    I have taken a hard turn to the right recently.

    I think one unintended consequence of feminism is that scourge on society called 'Political Correctness'. I am on a personal mission to eradicate this silliness from our community, and our culture.

    I read a fascinating book by Melanie Phillips, "Londonistan" and the chapter on "Human Rights Jihad" is definately worth a read

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  25. Jesse_7 said: "...I think its more than coincidence that the things discussed appear more often in traditional family oriented cultures. If a women is subject to the law of her husband transgressions can be punished by the husband. In such an environment male domination is the norm."

    I don't think that this is actually the case - the media and politicians can give a very slanted view of such matters, highlighting some families and conveniently downplaying others.

    That aside, male domination SHOULD also offer protection from wife-beaters and so forth. That is where fathers and brothers have a role to play, and in Western civilised traditional societies this affords women protection from violence (and not honour killings or anything like that).

    I have seen some of the worst possible treatment of women in Europe (in the capacity of an aid worker during the 1990s conflict in the former Yugoslavia) and I can assure you that sending women out to work rather than promoting their roles as wives and mothers does not solve any of their problems. So-called equality would not have kept these mostly traditional women out of rape camps... but their menfolk might have been able to had they not been summarily rounded up and slaughtered and denied arms to defend themselves by the West. These women do not want to be taught that men are the enemy and that they need to be more independent; they just want someone to stand up for and protect them. Modern equality and feminist sexual liberation is no answer.

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  26. You’re arguing for Western traditional families I’m arguing against the current dynamic of (some) ethnic traditional families.

    "That is where fathers and brothers have a role to play, and in Western civilised traditional societies this affords women protection from violence"

    In the case of honour killings it is from brothers and fathers that the threat lies. Ok this is not a Western thing.

    "These women do not want to be taught that men are the enemy and that they need to be more independent; they just want someone to stand up for and protect them."

    Well if you're reliant on your husband you have no choice. He had better treat you well or you have very little recourse. We don't consider absolute rule as acceptable in political discourse, the perception that checks and balances are needed and power can corrupt is considered. Similar factors can apply in the family.

    "I don't think that this is actually the case - the media and politicians can give a very slanted view of such matters, highlighting some families and conveniently downplaying others."

    Obviously these issues can be jumped on politically but unfortunately they are too frequent.

    On your other point can you imagine Australian males participating in rape camps? I should bloody hope not.

    You're arguing for civilisation as am I. I think that feminist "empowerment" is a natural consequence of our civilising push. The Western treatment of women is one of our proudest and most frequently proclaimed civilisational accomplishments. Ok, the consequences in practise can be sometimes difficult and lead to poor behaviour we agree.

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  27. I should have addressed my previous post to old hat, apologies.

    Bartholomew wrote:

    "it is inaccurate to compare traditional non-Whites to liberal Whites and then somehow claim that you've proved something about traditionalism vs. liberalism."

    Allright but we can say (I think) that non white traditionalism is a more primitive or tribal form of white traditionalism. Perhaps not as white traditionalism is practised today which is, as I think everyone would agree, very benign and family oriented.

    My variable would be the classic example, Muslim cultures. But I have been surprised to learn how restrictive Indian cultures are. I know African cultures can be highly patriarchal. I know some Islander cultures are. These family set ups are argued for on many of the same basis which traditional white families would be.

    “But men and women can never have an "equal" relationship because men and women aren't "equal", i.e. they aren't the same. "Equality" is an illusion”

    I wouldn’t argue for equality in the sense of sameness, merely power within a relationship. I don’t see why power within a relationship shouldn’t be equal or equality shouldn’t be pushed.

    Obviously pure liberalism is excessively individualistic which makes family relations hard/harder. However I am attempting to point out why this may be embraced as an alternative to traditionalism or why traditionalism may be viewed with apprehension.

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  28. Jesse_7 said: "On your other point can you imagine Australian males participating in rape camps? I should bloody hope not. "

    No, they'd be too busy sitting in front of the telly watching sport and drinking beer.

    But, more seriously, I think it does need to be said that I had the interesting but disturbing opportunity to speak with a number of perpetrators. Many of them were well-educated, well-spoken, highly-literate, and rather chivalrous. Most of them were technically more civilised than the average Australian male, and as long as you could keep off the topic of the war much better company too. They

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  29. My previous comment somehow published itself, so I continue:

    ...They were to all appearances like us.

    In short, I do agree that anglo-saxon Australian men aren't predisposed to setting up rape camps, but that isn't to say that in the right circumstances they are incapable of similar atrocities (though I should think on a lesser scale). I have met too many people who smugly assert 'it couldn't happen here'. That's what the Croatians and Bosnians thought....

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  30. Old hat,

    It certainly sounds like it was a very interesting and slightly unnerving experience. Personally whatever our sins I don't think those kinds of traits are in the Anglo Saxon psyche.

    I do appreciate the "wildness" that is in much behaviour, especially but not exclusively among the young. Civilised conduct between the sexes is something I think we all desire.

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  31. Jesse_7:

    Sexual "freedom" increases violence against women:

    http://www.city-journal.org/html/9_1_oh_to_be.html

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  32. Jesse_7: "I don't think those kinds of traits are in the Anglo Saxon psyche."

    It depends what you mean, Jesse. Are you talking about genetics, culture, Western civilisation in general, or just right now? I do agree that as our anglo-saxon Australian culture currently stands those traits are quite alien. However, that is not to say that in another time and circumstance with the right propaganda that there is something in the Australian psyche that would stop these things from happening. I don't think these sort of traits were in the German psyche leading up to WWII either, but look at what happened there. It is astounding (and worrying) how easily people can be led astray and persuaded to participate in the greatest horrors, and I cannot say for one minute that we are intrinsically superior to other Western cultures in that regard. We are not immune.

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  33. CadenceInterrupted said: "As a conservative, Catholic woman with traditional values I do not find it easy to find a man who appreciates that."

    On a practical note, there are plenty of men who attend the traditional rite Mass who appreciate such values. If you're in Melbourne (as I gather many of the readers of this blog are), see: http://www.latinmassmelbourne.org/ for Mass times. (The All Saints Mass promises to be a wonderful event for music lovers too.)

    Rose, great article by Dalrymple - thanks for the link!

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  34. Jesse wrote,

    I should have addressed my previous post to old hat, apologies.

    I'm not sure I understand. Do you mean to say that I am interrupting a private conversation...on an open-comments blog?

    Well, you have my apologies if I have spoken out of turn. But before I butt out, I'd like to respond to at least one of your points.

    I don’t see why power within a relationship shouldn’t be equal or equality shouldn’t be pushed.

    For precisely that reason: you're pushing it.

    Power is not equal in a relationship because the participants do not possess equal strengths in every area of life. In some areas, men have the upper-hand, and in others women. That's the nature of life.

    The only way you could "fix" that natural aspect of life would be to somehow endow the weaker party in a given situation with more strength, say via State intervention(i.e. hired muscle).

    Such intrusion into the most intimate sphere of life is evil. Why do you support it?

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  35. Thanks for the article Rose.

    Yes I'm familiar with Theodore Dalrymple's horror stories. Perhaps as behaviours have lossened up the yobbo class, which didn't think before and don't think now, have behaved worse and society has not been well served.

    I've been talking to women and I think you, old hat and others make some good points.

    A few issues:

    1. Liberal middle and upper class people are having fewer kids and having them late. I think its fairly clear that this is to the detriment of the west.

    2. People today aren't really sure what they want from their partner apart from wanting everything from them.

    3. In the older days expectations were lower, maybe people were easier to make happy. They would marry earlier and have kids without thinking about it too much because that was just something you did.

    Here's a few points from my perspective.

    I was talking to someone recently and they said people can be divided into various personality types. You have builders, negotiatiors, explorers and directors.

    http://www.onlinedatinghelp.co.uk/blog/builder-negotiator-explorer-director/

    The builders are calm, managerial, conscientious, home-oriented but social. The negotiators are good with social skills, imaginative, idealistic and sympathetic. The explorers are spontaneous, risk-loving, curious, adaptable. The director is inventive, focused, logical, direct and daring. It doesn't take too much insight to realise that the negotiator and builder are generally female personality types. The explorer and director are more traditionally male character types.

    In our society today the explorer and director are very much on the backfoot, the builder and negotiator personalities dominate, that is generally feminine character traits dominate. The kind of spirit that dominated the creation of the Apollo 11 astronauts and space progam, the spirit of soldiers or innoventive scientists is on the backfoot. Beurocatic and safety considerations dominate. Apollo 11 would not happen today, the space program is a joke.

    When I look at families with a strong child rearing foucs they are generally (not exclusively) female dominated. Should I be a good bloke and line up with a girl and have kids? If I did currently I'd feel that I was becoming a cog in a builder's or negotiator's plan and not very much more.

    I'm in the Army Reserve and I often here my collegues say that they get pressure from home to not attend training. Their wives and girlfriends would rather see them attending to things like the lawn than "playing soldier".

    I worry that builders/negotiators/women are more interested in things like the family. They have an insular focus and are less interested in the the nation and its requirements. As a consequence our poltics today are quite "soft". Policians line up to be caring or seen as caring to get the women's vote. Everything seen as uncomfortable is shied away from.

    I appreciate the need to propogate the species and the culture, and I recognise the current difficulties that are faced. However, I would rather encourage women to be a bit more outward looking and focused on things like the nation and its and their own responsibilities outside the family. To encourage the explorer or director (a bit more) within themselves as well as recognising it in guys than have guys line up to be good (bland), family focused, husbands to keep the wives happy. With more social responsibility from both sexes there should be time enough for children.

    Has this argument contraditcted my earlier point that traditional family focused culture led to or went along with male domination? Well historically we can say it was. Today I think a family focus (in the west) leads to a more female dominating focus. However, I could be wrong.

    Also perhaps it is a false dichotomy as people today use their free time to "play" more rather than to commit to societal activities.

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  36. "I should have addressed my previous post to old hat, apologies."

    Sorry Bartholomew I wasn't trying to cut you off just clarifing that my post prior to that one was in response to old hat's comments.

    "The only way you could "fix" that natural aspect of life would be to somehow endow the weaker party in a given situation with more strength, say via State intervention"

    I'm in favour of equal respect shown between the parties. That should not require anything more than awerness and desire. No I'm not in favour of state regulation of domestic life only "social" regulation through morality.

    Differing strengths between the sexes is fine and I think equality of spirit is not inconsistent with this.

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  37. I worry that builders/negotiators/women are more interested in things like the family. They have an insular focus and are less interested in the the nation and its requirements.

    It's been like this forever. Many wives want their husbands to be domesticated (energies directed toward the immediate needs of the family) but not civilised (energies directed toward the larger community).

    But it's important for men to be both. So they simply have to stand up to their wives on this issue. I know that many men shy away from confrontation, but sometimes in a marriage you have to stand your ground even it incurs some wifely criticism or opposition.

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  38. I agree Mark though I worry that many guys give up on civilisational requirements for the sake of peace or because they're too hard or not sufficiently appreciated today.

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  39. Jesse,

    At one point in the thread you raised concerns about traditional families.

    One thing that ought to be made clear here is that there is a difference between a traditional monogamous culture and a polygamous one.

    In polygamous societies, you have a smaller group of much older men using their economic resources to marry a number of quite young women/girls. At the same time, you have a lot of men in their sexual prime lacking the opportunity to marry.

    In these circumstances, there is going to be a much stricter regime imposed upon women. The older men will dominate their much younger wives more easily and they will want to separate them from contact with the younger, unmarried men.

    Even someone like Hugh Hefner, as libertine as he is, imposes strict curfews on his girlfriends - for much the same reasons as older polygamous men do in other countries.

    There was a monogamous, rather than a polygamous tradition, in northern Europe. Therefore, women have not had the same restrictions placed on them that you find in some other cultures - even going as far back as Tudor times or even further back to the period in which the Icelandic sagas were written.

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  40. ... for the sake of peace or because they're too hard or not sufficiently appreciated today.

    I agree that that's how things stand. So one of the arguments we have to make to men is that it's possible to manage a bit of civilisational work, that it's a meaningful and important thing to do and that their efforts will be appreciated by other men.

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  41. Thanks Mark for your comment on monogamy,

    On your other point is it not possible to recruit women more fully into the civlisational urge? Women generally want men to participate in home life and I think that is generally fair enough. Men can provide important contributions, in such areas as parenting for instance. If women run the home and men are drawn between home and civilisation (or lets just call it the office for instance though it may not be confined to paid work) will men not be drawn into an either or position? Which in practise means that something will have to give?

    Surely women can become full and active participants so to speak in the social sphere, not merely in matters of direct interest to them and share the load of civilisation. That would lead to better relations between the sexes would it not? And end the endless "oh he's at work to fulfil personal ambitions" suspicion?

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  42. Jesse_7 said: "On your other point is it not possible to recruit women more fully into the civlisational urge? ... Surely women can become full and active participants so to speak in the social sphere, not merely in matters of direct interest to them and share the load of civilisation."

    I'm not entirely sure I understand how you would like to see this played out, Jesse. From my point of view, traditional women can run the risk of being a tad too focussed on their sphere but in practice I haven't seen any of this. If anything, some would say women like me are too involved in speaking our minds publicly, that we need to stick our necks back in!

    I certainly agree with you that women need to support their menfolk in their civic duties, whether it's the army reserve, the SES, politics, and so forth. I think what you've identified is the influence of feminism making women think they can rule their husbands. Sure, they're theoretically traditional women, but instead of truly embracing their role they are substituting their rule over the domestic sphere and using that power. In fact, it's an abuse of power, though I doubt that it is usually a conscious one.

    I also agree that being a traditional wife and mother doesn't mean leaving one's brain in the kitchen or laundry. Part of supporting one's husband should involve chewing things over with him, not leaving him on his own to bear the burden of decision-making. Here it's not so much about power and who's involved in the civic/public sphere as who represents the family to the world. Ironically, women are probably less involved in the public sphere in some ways than they used to be. Going out to work doesn't give them a civic voice, and relinquishing their feminine influence over men in exchange for authority over their economic livelihood has only reduced their involvement to a very crude, selfish power struggle. It has devalued what women are best at and forced many men into the negotiator type role you have described.

    What I am saying is that to involve women in the best possible way means promoting their role as intelligent helpmeets rather than getting them to actively engage in the public sphere. By doing so, you not only allow for a society that is family-friendly but give our children role models that encourage a less wimpy culture that realises the potential of men and women within society rather than pushing them to take on equal and/or similar roles.

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  43. Part of supporting one's husband should involve chewing things over with him, not leaving him on his own to bear the burden of decision-making

    Excellent point, old hat. That's exactly how my parents interacted, as partners though with different roles, and I saw that that extended naturally into the decision-making process.

    What I am saying is that to involve women in the best possible way means promoting their role as intelligent helpmeets rather than getting them to actively engage in the public sphere. By doing so, you not only allow for a society that is family-friendly but give our children role models that encourage a less wimpy culture that realises the potential of men and women within society rather than pushing them to take on equal and/or similar roles.

    Isn't it amazing just how well the four thousand year old (+) Biblical model works?

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  44. Jesse wrote I'm in favour of equal respect shown between the parties. That should not require anything more than awerness and desire. No I'm not in favour of state regulation of domestic life only "social" regulation through morality.

    Differing strengths between the sexes is fine and I think equality of spirit is not inconsistent with this.


    OK, that makes sense. Where I became suspicious (and I regret that I so easily become so talking to the computer screen) was when you said this:

    If a women is subject to the law of her husband transgressions can be punished by the husband. In such an environment male domination is the norm. A good husband in such an environment will be "fair" but it won't be an equal relationship.

    You talk here as if it were optional whether a woman be subject to her husband's law, when in fact in most cases it's simply a physical reality: he's stronger. Obviously a decent man doesn't use physical force against his wife, but that decision is his to make not hers. And if he chooses poorly, other men, her relatives for example, may intervene and put him in his place. But it's ultimately the law of the men that determines this, not women.

    Feminism despises this natural order as "unequal" and seeks to upend it by weakening men, both legally and internally via leftist social values and norms. We can see the result of emasculated men. Are you happy with what you see?

    The answer is not to emasculate men or to try somehow to "equalize" the relationship between the sexes but rather to re-establish traditional Western Christian norms, which inculcate the "equality of spirit" of which you speak above and encourage men to be gallant toward their wives and female relations.

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  45. That's allright Bartholomew,

    I think you make an interesting point. The so called "war" between the sexes is quite unpleasant. But I think it only works if there is that equality of spirit or respect for women. If the relationship becomes servant and master without any moral foundation, or a disrespectful "I am superior and you must obey in every situation" then we're in unpleasant territory.

    I have appreciated this discussion enormously and would like to thank everyone who has commented.

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  46. I too have enjoyed this discussion - thank-you to all the participants.

    Jesse, your last comment is a good reminder of the delicacy of such matters: "If the relationship becomes servant and master without any moral foundation, or a disrespectful "I am superior and you must obey in every situation" then we're in unpleasant territory." It brings to mind one of my favourite books, Anthony Trollope's 'He Knew He Was Right'. Leaving aside the husband's erroneous judgement, it is a fascinating study of how a husband may assert his authority, how a wife obeys unwillingly, the ways in which she can obey yet show her disagreement, and ultimately how very unpleasant, ruinous, and unnecessary the husband's insistence on mastery can be. I highly recommend this and Trollope's other novels if anyone is looking for a good read that is both entertaining and intellectually stimulating. (Note, Trollope is very sympathetic to women without being a feminist - very refreshing!)

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  47. Yes, thanks for the thought-provoking exchange.

    And, yes, you are right Jesse when you say,
    If the relationship becomes servant and master without any moral foundation, or a disrespectful "I am superior and you must obey in every situation" then we're in unpleasant territory.

    How can a man behave in that way and say that he is honoring and cherishing his wife, as St. Paul instructed? If that is not even the way in which Christ Himself deals with us, how can a husband deal that way with his wife?

    That is why I know that we do not need any inferior, Feminist substitute for transcendent Christian truth.

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  48. women who sleep with everyone is a skank. a man who does the same is a skank and a half. liberation should be removal of double standards period. the paradox of sexual liberation -- the more you sleep around, the less respect you're gonna get -- I don't understand why any woman would want that?

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