Sunday, May 09, 2010

What an early feminist believed

Sarah Grimke was an early American feminist. In one respect, she sounds different to the feminists of today. She was a Quaker and took her religion seriously, so there are many references to Christianity in her writings.

But it's not difficult to find similarities. For instance, I have often noted that modern feminism wants to make gender (more exactly the fact of sex distinctions) not matter.

So too did Sarah Grimke. Here are some excerpts from a political letter she wrote in 1837 titled "Social Intercourse of the Sexes":

permit me to offer for your consideration, some views relative to the social intercourse of the sexes. Nearly the whole of this intercourse is, in my apprehension, derogatory to man and woman, as moral and intellectual beings. We approach each other, and mingle with each other, under the constant pressure of a feeling that we are of different sexes; and, instead of regarding each other only in the light of immortal creatures, the mind is fettered by the idea which is early and industriously infused into it, that we must never forget the distinction between male and female. Hence our intercourse, instead of being elevated and refined, is generally calculated to excite and keep alive the lowest propensities of our nature. Nothing, I believe, has tended more to destroy the true dignity of woman, than the fact that she is approached by man in the character of a female.

... Until our intercourse is purified by the forgetfulness of sex, - until we rise above the present low and sordid views which entwine themselves around our social and domestic interchange of sentiments and feelings, we never can derive that benefit from each other's society which it is the design of our Creator that we should. Man has inflicted an unspeakable injury upon woman, by holding up to her view her animal nature, and placing in the back ground her moral and intellectual being.

In the same letter she describes her ideal woman as follows,

... Such a woman feels, when she enters upon the marriage relation, that God designed that relation not to debase her to a level with the animal creation, but to increase the happiness and dignity of his creatures ... She views herself, and teaches her children to regard themselves as moral beings; and in all their intercourse with their fellow men, to lose the animal nature of man and woman, in the recognition of that immortal mind wherewith Jehovah has blessed and enriched them.

She uses very similar language to that of modern liberals, describing sex distinctions as a "fetter" and wanting us to learn to be "forgetful" of them.

She is not less radical than modern feminists. She believes the recognition of sex distinctions to be "low" and "sordid" and "debased" and considers our manhood and womanhood to be part of a merely animal nature as opposed to a purified spiritual nature in which we would not be conscious of being man or woman.

I think she has it wrong. We do not add to our spirituality by stripping away our identity as men and women. It might be true that there are certain aspects of an "animal" existence that are connected to being male and female. But so too are there aspects of an "animal" existence that are common to the sexes (e.g. eating, digestion etc). We don't suddenly live on some sort of ethereal plane if we think of ourselves as desexed creatures.

And there do exist more spiritual aspects of our embodiment as men and women. The highest order one is our perception of a masculine and feminine essence which is realised to a greater or lesser extent in the behaviour or qualities of individual men and women. Another is the highly gendered nature of heterosexual love which is experienced not just as the love of a particular personality or intellect (in which case we might just as easily love someone of our own sex), but of a sense of a complementary union between the masculine and feminine. There is also the experience of maternal love and paternal love, which are part of a gendered dynamic of relationships within the family. Our sense of duty and virtue, too, is at least partly connected to our distinct existence as men and women (e.g. although courage exists as a virtue for both men and women, we do connect it in specific ways to masculinity).

Where does Sarah Grimke's argument leave people? If we can't act as men and women, then how are we supposed to act?

Sarah Grimke wrote a lot about following our "moral being". But this appears to have a largely modern meaning. We are to be "ennobled" by pursuing "moral causes". And these causes are aimed at achieving equal autonomy.

I write this because I suspect that Sarah Grimke's Quakerism was tending already, even in the 1830s, more toward a secular modernity (based on liberal political activism) than Christian orthodoxy.

89 comments:

  1. Not much of a looker is she! Seriously though, thanks for finding this. Just the sort of thing up my ally. You know Susan B. Anthony was also a Quaker. In respect to Anthony, historians seem to bring up the Quaker aspect as to make her not seem as radical as she was.

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  2. I would be curious if she denied the animal nature of the human realm generally and not only with respect to gender recognition. It would seem odd to single out this one area for uplifting the soul, as if that were the only angle of attack worthy of the effort.

    I think she was well-intentioned compared to the atheistic bitterness often displayed in modern feminist philosophy. But do the ideas she expresses here not go against certain tenets of Christian theology? I had always thought that the Bible teaches us to recognize our ineluctable animal nature for what it is and rise above it, as we are able, through repentance and faith.

    Do souls possess gender?

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  3. Do souls possess gender?

    Souls don't have gender, I think. But a complete person (in possession of both body and soul) has one.

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  4. Until our intercourse is purified by the forgetfulness of sex,

    "Forget the sex, I just want pure intercourse!"

    Heh heh heh.

    Who is uglier, the grim Sarah Grimke or Raewyn Connell? Hard to decide. But Sarah was born bitter ugly, Raewyn was made that way...

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  5. Not much of a looker is she!

    The artist has caught a kind of manic, possessed look in her eyes. Combined with her somewhat masculine face, it's a very long way from being cutely feminine. Words like stern and severe come to mind.

    But then that's what she was aiming at.

    BTW, if readers of this site are interested in first wave feminism, Laura Grace Robins has a collection of interesting documents from the period here.

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  6. Great article, Mr. Richardson.

    You hit the liberals’ problem square on the head when you wrote, “...heterosexual love which is experienced not just as the love of a particular personality or intellect (in which case we might just as easily love someone of our own sex), but of a sense of a complementary union between the masculine and feminine.”

    Nearly every liberal, if he’s consistent, must admit that the body in real life (as opposed to liberal autonomy theory) means more than it “should”.

    A modern liberal law professor, Kenji Yoshino, referred to this problem in his book “Covering”.
    In one passage, the homosexual Yoshino wonders frankly why he could not fall in love with a woman to whom he claimed he was attracted spiritually:

    "Since I heard [an excerpt form Milton's Paradise Lost re angelic sex], these lines have limned my dream of sex--discorporation, clean mixing of molecules, no bodies or bedsprings, just a passing through./I watched [Janet] and thought of these lines, wondering why I could not love her [he is a homosexual]. If I wanted Milton's angelic mingling with her, why would a body be a barrier? I still return to this question without an answer." Covering, p. 200."

    Yoshino’s point is striking. He thinks the only thing that should matter is some kind of union or “mingling” between “his” and “her” molecules (as a materialist, he’s in the absurd position of denying the importance of the body while trumpeting the importance of “molecules”...right. And what, Mr. Yoshino, comprises the body, exactly?), to which “bodies and bedsprings” are mere distractions.

    Back on planet earth, however, it turns out that bodies and bedsprings matter a great deal. And Yoshino finds that he can’t get “past” the woman Janet’s body.
    Though disordered, his repulsion to the feminine body is actually a useful piece of evidence in favor of the traditional argument for the importance of the body and against the liberal idea of bodyless autonomy.

    I wonder how many other homosexuals have at least contemplated this very serious flaw in their theory.

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  7. I'm sorry I think this post is ridiculous.

    Taking the words of a woman from 1837 and comparing her to the likes of Susan Sontag is ridiculous.

    Glenn Beck often picks on Theodore Roosevelt for being a 'progressive' but that is an intellectual fallacy, similar to your post. A progressive of 100 years ago was not someone who wanted to destroy our society like we see today.

    I don't care if this woman happened to hit upon getting rid of sexual differences. It's words and words can be misinterpreted 200 years later.

    Get real we are not battling against a 200 year old Quaker. We are battling against people from 1900's on and you are misleading your readers. Think Boas, Sontag, and practically everyone from the 1960's on.

    Why are you misleading your readers Marc?

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  8. Get real we are not battling against a 200 year old Quaker. We are battling against people from 1900's on and you are misleading your readers. Think Boas, Sontag, and practically everyone from the 1960's on.

    Why are you misleading your readers Marc?


    How is it misleading to point to the depths from which springs your enemy?

    If you think that the foes you face are something new in the world, and that their ideas can only be tackled by similarly new things, you are gravely mistaken. There may be some evolution, but we do not shy away from calling people like Lenin "Marxist" despite the fact that Marx would not have recognized his philosophy. It is because we know that every gnarled tree has deep roots.

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  9. Jonathan Wolfe you bring up Marx and Lenin yet you still pick on some old Quaker lady?

    Really.

    I'm sure Catherine de Medici had the same conversations with her menfolk back during the Renaissance.

    There's nothing wrong with wanting women to be perceived as something higher than sexual objects. Women had ideas back then too. The sick feminism of today is NOT related to the wistful musings of a 200 year old Quaker lady.

    I tried to get this through to you guys in a previous post yet none of you seem to listen.

    Take the Titanic post....those ideas Marc was bitching at were expressed by 1 woman. A communist with an agenda. The Feminist Organization rebuked and rejected her ideas.

    The woman's movement was hijacked by people with very different goals than what was originally intended.

    You are choosing the wrong enemies. I want a post on Sontag and Boas please...not a Quaker lady.

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  10. I'm not done!

    All Quaker lady is saying is "Oh I wish men would not look at our boobies and instead see us for our souls, our good works, our ideas. And with that we can be equal on an intellectual basis where our ideas are given equal consideration."

    Seriously. Women have been saying this since the dawn of time. Cave women sat around and grunted "Why doesn't he respect my arrow making...damn my titties!" Or even better, "My arrow-making is better than Miss big tits arrow-making yet I am still single!"

    This is not revolutionary feminism.

    And my soul is female btw.

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  11. One final last thought...

    Based upon my previous post....I start thinking of the girls who walked around shirtless in Seattle.

    See I think the difference between the Quaker woman and today's feminism is that today's feminism actually pushes women to do immoral acts.

    Today's feminism is making women sleep around, stop having families, be disrespectful to white males, be exhibitionists.

    It's a very different can of worms then what this old lady is advocating. It's just not fair to call this woman the enemy.

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  12. There are two types of liberals....the 'city upon a hill' multicultural liberals who dream of the Star Trek Federation. These people are optimists and idealists. They tend to be trusting and naive, and their intentions tend to be self-sacrificing and pure. They also tend to be genetically Anglo-Saxon. Think goody-two shoes Christian types.

    Then there are another type of liberals. People who know very well that everything is bullshit but on some level will profit from it.

    I do not call the first type my enemies (although they do piss me off). I call them naive, childlike, and misguided. However, the key thing about these types is that they would never advocate amoral lifestyles as the other type of liberals do.

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  13. "Why doesn't he respect my arrow making."

    Viminz making sumting end shi vaaantz rrrespectz?

    http://i42.tinypic.com/1126h46.jpg

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  14. Anonymous said

    "All Quaker lady is saying is "Oh I wish men would not look at our boobies and instead see us for our souls, our good works, our ideas. And with that we can be equal on an intellectual basis where our ideas are given equal consideration." "

    No, that is not all she is saying. You have essentially voided the religious foundation of her perspective on gender. Whether or not these views are as misguided as Mark suggests, they should be considered with regard to the spiritual plane that she believed could be achieved in this life. A strictly secular equality would no more appeal to Sarah Grimke that it does to modern traditionalists.

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  15. The woman's movement was hijacked by people with very different goals than what was originally intended.

    No, I disagree. I'll make a longer comment on this later, but the truth is that the feminism of the late 1800s and early 1900s was every bit as radical as the feminism of the last 30 years.

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  16. Anonymous,

    Sarah Grimke was not just some harmless old Quaker lady who wanted to be recognised for her intellect as well as her sex appeal.

    Her argument was that the specifically feminine qualities of women are to be regarded negatively as giving a merely animal rather than a human status. This is the same argument that Gloria Steinem was to make at the start of second wave feminism.

    In other letters, Grimke drew out this argument, claiming that in their traditionally feminine roles women were merely the "playthings" of men without a significant role in life. She also criticised repeatedly the idea that women might be dependent on men within family life.

    She did not argue in moderate terms. She described women who lived as wives and mothers as "living like a parasite on his [a man's] vitality".

    If this way of thinking is taken seriously (as it came to be), then much follows.

    First, a woman's status will no longer be drawn from her role as wife and mother. What will matter will be the development of her intellect (education) and its application to some kind of social project or mission.

    Second, a woman will seek an independent position in society. The logic of this is to draw women into an independent career role rather than a family, as family roles tend to be interdependent.

    Sarah Grimke herself refused to marry for exactly this reason. Yes, it's true, she remained celibate rather than promoting free love as an alternative to marriage and family. So she may seem more "moral".

    But, realistically, if women reject marriage on principle, then many are likely to end up pursuing casual relationships instead, rather than committing to a life of celibacy (though in the early 1900s there were feminist women who rejected not just marriage but also love as they thought that love itself rendered them too dependent on men.)

    As far as a timeline of feminism goes, Grimke wrote her letters in the late 1830s. By the mid 1850s, such ideas were being put into effect by the state. Grimke was one of those who helped prepare the ground for the adoption of feminism by the state.

    Anonymous, the rot set into Western culture well before the 1960s. It takes a long time, many generations, to undo a civilisation. It helps to understand this because otherwise we underestimate what's required to start turning things around.

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  17. "She also criticised repeatedly the idea that women might be dependent on men within family life."

    This is an issue in the working class and lower middle classes only as upper class women have always been financially independent via inherited and family wealth. Lower class women have often had to work in factories and agriculture to contribute to family finances and thus I don't see that the financial issues are crucial to the argument. Similarly with the issue of work. In most of the world women are working and developing careers and in many there are more working women than in the West but it has not had the same effect on family life.

    It seems the views on this site are overly simplistic and developed from a very narrow world view. Feminism is blamed for all the ills of the contempoary West when it is little more than a contributory factor or symptom.

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  18. "Anonymous, the rot set into Western culture well before the 1960s. It takes a long time, many generations, to undo a civilisation. It helps to understand this because otherwise we underestimate what's required to start turning things around."

    It seems from most of your writing that you don't have a clear idea of what conservativism is and hence have no idea of how to fix the current social problems. Conservativism is a fairly straightforward matter. It rests upon maintaining tradtitions and putting duty before self. It depends upon having an aristocracy/upper class who are prepared to do that and are prepared to force it on the lower classes. The lower social classes cannot maintain a conservative society as they tend to lack the resilience. In the West too many of the elites are liberal and self indulgent and have failed to impose authority and discipline on society.

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  19. Anonymous,

    Some advice. Be less concerned with one-upmanship. More concerned with the quality of the arguments at hand.

    You can't take a part argument from one article and assume that to be the analysis at this site. You have to take the article on its own terms.

    If you want to have an understanding of what the analysis at this site is then read one of the introductory articles listed near the top of the side bar.

    If you did so, you'd have a better understanding of what you're arguing against.

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  20. Anonymous,

    One other quick point. Men have always been the primary breadwinners. Adult women used to spend much of their adult life pregnant and/or tending to children. They were reliant on the efforts of men to provide for them.

    Until the 1880s, married women did not hold property in their own name. It was possible for money to be "settled" on them, but in general the interest of society was on men accumulating property, using it to support their families and passing it on to their progeny.

    This applied to women of all social classes.

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  21. Ok Mark....

    In other letters, Grimke drew out this argument, claiming that in their traditionally feminine roles women were merely the "playthings" of men without a significant role in life. She also criticised repeatedly the idea that women might be dependent on men within family life.

    She did not argue in moderate terms. She described women who lived as wives and mothers as "living like a parasite on his [a man's] vitality".

    -----------

    Isn't there some truth to what she wrote though? So one woman back in the 1830's essentially writing her opinion is the start of the death of civilization.

    These ideas have been around long before Sarah Grimke...all the way back to Cleopatra...but they never caused any more than a few ruffled feathers until now.

    That's the point I'm trying to make.....Some intellectual celibate woman with child bearing issues sounding off about marriage is a very different boat then Hugh Hefner starting a billion dollar empire.

    If you start censoring Sarah Grimke then just become Muslim already.

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  22. She described women who lived as wives and mothers as "living like a parasite on his [a man's] vitality"

    Ok now I share my own story. I have a friend from gradeschool who is the stay at home mother of 2 and soon to be 3 children.

    She posts to facebook constantly. And she is incredibly irritating. "Oh I just baked homemade bread. I just jarred jam. Oh I just bought my daughter a cute dress. Etc etc etc. I need a good workout video for the WII any recommendations?"

    I mean it's really annoying. Imagine if Sarah Grimke was surrounded by a bunch of girls like that. They do seem a bit parasitical upon their husbands don't they?

    I just reread what you have posted from Sarah Grimke and I still see absolutely nothing wrong with what she wrote.

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  23. I think this is what is bothering me so much...

    "First, a woman's status will no longer be drawn from her role as wife and mother. What will matter will be the development of her intellect (education) and its application to some kind of social project or mission."

    I as a woman go...What's wrong with that?

    I think the critique of Sarah Grimke scares me because we could end up heading in a direction too right for my liking.

    The girls in Saudi Arabia are all very scary brainwashed girls.

    I just don't want to see us going in that direction ever again.

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  24. Ahh...here we go...

    I like this sentence.....

    Valuing a woman's intellect does not require belittling her role as wife and mother.

    But if we word it this way....

    A woman's status can derive from motherhood, wife, and her intellectual accomplishments. Now that sounds like a tall order doesn't it? This is why all those feminists that tried to 'have it all' came up so short and bitter.

    I think the first sentence is how I feel. Respecting a woman's intellect doesn't have to come hand in hand with motherhood bashing. I think modern day feminism got the priorities mixed up, and excluded motherhood completely....and maybe back in 1837 the priorities were mixed up and intellect was excluded completely.

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  25. Mark,

    One thing that we certainly have in modern society is the elevation of our base or animal nature. You mentioned eating and currently cooking shows as we know are the rage. Concepts of gluttony no longer hold force and now its "oh spoil yourself, you deserve it" etc. Indeed the base is elevated to the level of the essential worthy "humanness". Our primitive unconscious is the real us, fulfilling our fleeting desires is the essence of freedom, the mind body division was disastrous for our personalities and for society, denial leads to negative psychological outcomes and is essentially hypocrisy, we can all come together around the appreciation of food and sex.

    When does an appreciation of sex differences become a glorification of our basic or more animal differences?

    Are our natures gendered? Certainly. With the many positive aspects of our gendered natures that you’ve listed such as, duty, gendered virtue, feelings of the essential self and paternal and romantic love this still leaves us with less desirable “gendered”/biological/base attributes or desires that we all know about.

    Without accepting the feminist approach of blaming men or seeing it as an attempt to oppress women can we not say that there are other desirable aspects of our natures which are not primarily gendered?

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  26. Anonymous wrote, "I think the first sentence is how I feel."

    Hey, anon, that's how we all feel. But apparently you don't believe us, when you write things like,
    "The girls in Saudi Arabia are all very scary brainwashed girls.

    I just don't want to see us going in that direction ever again."


    When has Europe ever been Saudi Arabia? When have we white men ever treated you women that way? That's an outrageous thing to imply, most of all because it's false. How about giving us the benefit of the doubt here?

    You see, while you still want to be valued for your intellect and your feminine body (just as we men are valued for our intellect and our masculine bodies), there are very, very perverse people out there who want to do away with the body and its meaning altogether.

    Did you read my first post? I know it's a little long, but the passage I quote is proof of what I'm claiming and what we must fight.

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  27. Hey Bartholomew...

    I agree with your post. The body is very important. I'm glad you agree with the first sentence. I was wrong to compare europeans to muslims. That is called irrational female paranoia.

    BUT....I still stand by my two main points. The first being that Grimke is not anywhere close to being in league with some of our 21st century people. Second, that Grimke does have a valid point.

    I just feel like we are censoring Grimke and villainizing her...without even looking at her historical context.

    Yes I agree with Marc she says stuff that is parroted by feminists today. BUT I contend that when taken in a historical context she does not mean it in the same way.

    If she wrote the sentence that Marc boldened in 1980 I'd be vomiting all over the place. But in 1837 the woman probably had a point to some degree.

    You know it's kinda along the lines of honoring one's ancestors. Liberals insult and malign all people from the past as racists and backwards. Well, I'm going to be conservative and give Grimke the benefit of the doubt.

    I guess in Grimke's mind you'd have women sitting around the round table with King Arthur...which is never going to happen...but ultimately I think her ideas did help women better themselves in the 21st century.

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  28. "Some advice. Be less concerned with one-upmanship. More concerned with the quality of the arguments at hand.

    You can't take a part argument from one article and assume that to be the analysis at this site. You have to take the article on its own terms.

    If you want to have an understanding of what the analysis at this site is then read one of the introductory articles listed near the top of the side bar.

    If you did so, you'd have a better understanding of what you're arguing against"

    Dear Mark,

    I would suggest that you address the issues raised. I am not engaging in one upmanship. I have read the articles on your site and noted your comments and it is obvious that you have no understanding of conservativism or how to restore the traditional society of the West. You have an obsession with feminism which you see as wrecking society and in pursuing this obsession, have no concept of the bigger picture.

    You were asked how conservativism could be restored and came up with some comments about Melbourne upper middle class lifestyles which demonstrated that you have no concept of the problem or of its solution. If you wish to have a serious impact you should focus on how the traditional white protestant culture of the anglosphere can be restored.

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  29. "One other quick point. Men have always been the primary breadwinners. Adult women used to spend much of their adult life pregnant and/or tending to children. They were reliant on the efforts of men to provide for them.

    Until the 1880s, married women did not hold property in their own name. It was possible for money to be "settled" on them, but in general the interest of society was on men accumulating property, using it to support their families and passing it on to their progeny.

    This applied to women of all social classes."

    Mark,

    I would suggest you do some research. Upper class women have always had trust funds holding assets of various classes. Most company stocks were in private hands until the middle of the 20th century and most were held in trust funds.

    Upper class women have never raised their own children. Children were raised by nannies and saw their parents at mealtimes when they were seen and not heard. By the ages of 8-13, all children of the ruling class were boarders at school.

    The concept you have of women preoccupied with childbirth and child rearing for most of their lives is not accurate.

    The issue is largely irrelevant as history moves on, technology changes and lifestyles change. There is no going back to the Vctorian era or lifestyle as the West is financially no longer dominant. Other cultures have managed the challenges of the 20th century better than the West has and there is manifestly an inherent problem with Western society.

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  30. I think that's a bit harsh Anon. Feminism is one aspect of modern society and its worthy of discussion.

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  31. Anonymous,

    This is exasperating. I wrote in my comment that married women could not own property prior to the 1880s, although there were legal means through which some amount of property could nonetheless be 'settled' on them.

    You then tell me that I should do some research because married women could have property settled on them through trusts etc.

    This is the exception I noted in the my response to you. You can't throw back at me as part of my "ignorance" things I have just previously noted.

    Anonymous, you have a tendency to overstate things when it comes to history. You seem to want to portray upper class women as having nothing to do with children.

    First, it was boys who were sent off to boarding school from the age of 8, not girls. Girls in the wealthiest families stayed home to be educated by governesses or tutors. Girls from more middling families might have attended a local privately run day school.

    Yes it's true that many families, even of the middling sort, had nannies or young local girls to help with the running of the household. It's possible that in some of the great aristocratic families that nannies effectively took over the motherhood role.

    But even at the gentry level, i.e. the lower aristocracy, mothers did help to mother their own children. Think of the scene in Persuasion in which the child is sick and the mother complains that it is always the mothers and not the fathers who are kept home to nurse the child. An aunt ends up doing the job.

    Or, if you don't like such evidence, consider the diary of Elizabeth Fenton, again a gentlewoman of the gentry class, in 1828. After the birth of her child she wrote:

    "Here I sit while my beloved child sleeps by my side. My child! What a flood of new emotions the very name produces. It appears as if I never felt or loved till now.

    "I hardly sleep, not from illness but from a kind of mental excitement and watchfulness of the infant I cannot yet moderate. You will smile if I tell you I never fancy it safe unless in mine own arms.

    "The nurses like this persuasion full well, and allows me the full benefit of carrying it about for hours of the night.

    "Then I am up ... before sunrise ... I have at this early hour a cup of coffee brought me, then proceed to the arduous task of dressing and bathing Flora."

    Anonymous, you accuse me of not knowing what conservatism is, but you're the one who seems to want to push for an adaptation to liberal norms of family life.

    I want to maximise the conditions in which women can stay at home to look after their young children and to be supported by their husbands, not by the state, to do so.

    There is certainly room for compromise and exceptions within this basic pattern. But I don't think it's true conservatism to give up the pattern and accept a feminist model in its place.

    There are tremendous repercussions in doing so, which I'll endeavour to explain in the following comment.

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  32. Sarah Grimke the well-meaning Quaker lady? What's wrong with this idea?

    Imagine you were not a traditionalist but a radical. Your aim would be to break apart the established structure of society.

    So you would want to identify what the system of power or the power structure of society was.

    If you look at nineteenth century radicals there were several ideas at play.

    Some radicals still wanted to sweep away what was left of the feudal structure. These radicals generally supported a free market capitalism.

    But there were others who saw capitalism itself as the new structure and who advocated a socialistic replacement.

    But it was not just an economic system or structure that was identified and targeted. A lot of radicals saw, quite correctly, that society was held together in a systematic way by a specific type of family arrangement.

    Nearly all of the radicals, whether liberal or socialist, therefore targeted the patriarchal family system. From Mill to Marx, there was an attack on the prevailing system of family life.

    Our radical opponents know what is at stake. They know that there is a social ordering, a system of society, based on the patriarchal family. If you can knock it over, then you clear the path to radical change.

    Sarah Grimke may not have been a radical in the sense of wanting to clear away the established social order. But her arguments denigrating the traditional role of women in the family were nonetheless part of the radical wave which soon culminated in first wave feminism.

    We need to see the big picture here, as clearly as our radical opponents do. How well do we ourselves understand the patriarchal family as a system of social order? To what extent can we make compromises with it? Where must we draw a line in the sand? What happens if the system falls apart?

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  33. The issue of Trusts was not the exception but the norm in wealthy families. That is the point I was making and which you failed to understand. Thus upper class women were not dependent financially upon their husbands although the husband and was responsible for the financing of the household. The same situation exists today when most upper class women have inherited or earned money.



    You state:

    "First, it was boys who were sent off to boarding school from the age of 8, not girls. Girls in the wealthiest families stayed home to be educated by governesses or tutors. Girls from more middling families might have attended a local privately run day school."

    Mark, girls in Britain have gone to boarding school since 1850- have you never heard of Cheltenham Ladies College, one of the largest girls' boarding schools in Britain? And elite girls schools have never been in the business of producing housewives.

    "Persuasion" is a novel ie fiction and not evidence of historical fact. My ancestors were Victorian nobility and upper middle class professionals and my facts are taken from actual family and social history and not novels.

    You write:
    "I want to maximise the conditions in which women can stay at home to look after their young children and to be supported by their husbands, not by the state, to do so."

    How do you propose to do that?

    "There is certainly room for compromise and exceptions within this basic pattern. But I don't think it's true conservatism to give up the pattern and accept a feminist model in its place."

    You don't seemed to have grasped economic reality. The Western countries, since their abandonment of the Gold standard, have devalued their currencies and outsourced manufacturing and as long as these policies are not reversed, incomes will continue to fall in terms of purchasing power parity. Western incomes have been falling in real terms since the 1900s and this is why many families need 2 incomes. It is not a feminist model but a signal of declining Western power and economic status. It is the norm in many Third World countries. Would you call working women in the Philippines or Indonesia feminists? The Western politicians have used the term to conceal from the electorate the parlous state of the economies. Thus in attacking "feminism" you are falling into the trap of failing to see the bigger picture and tackle the real problem of economic decline. As long as the Western economies decline, there will be more working women and even working children in the future. However it must be said that in many Third World countries whole families are working from the age of 9 and yet still retain their traditonal family structure and culture.


    Conservativism is the preservation of family pedigree and traditition. Whether or not women work is a secondary issue. You seem to be making it the definitive issue.

    ReplyDelete
  34. "How well do we ourselves understand the patriarchal family as a system of social order? "

    The Patriarchal family as a preserver of the social order is dependent upon arranged marriages which are contracted to preserve and improve family pedigree by increasing family human, intellectual and financial capital. Once this system collapses as in much of the West, the whole culture collapses.

    The marriage practices of Orthodox Jews, Indians, Chinese and most Asians have seen their societies preserved through holocausts, wars, socialism, communism and all manner of evils. And all of these ethnic groups have more educated career women than Western countries.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Mark, girls in Britain have gone to boarding school since 1850

    So history begins now in 1850? You made a claim that upper class women had *never* raised their own children, with 8 to 15 year olds having been sent away to boarding school.

    Now you admit that the first girls boarding schools didn't appear until 1850.

    "Persuasion" is a novel ie fiction and not evidence of historical fact.

    Would Austen have included the scene if it was unknown for women to look after their own children?

    Furthermore, I anticipated your objection and included a diary entry which clearly shows the delight an upper-class woman had in tending to her own infant.

    You don't seem to have grasped economic reality.

    The male wage was healthy enough in Australia until the 1970s. It has declined in real terms since then. But even now it would be possible to support a family on a single wage if the cost of housing wasn't so high. I myself am supporting a family on a modest teacher's salary.

    Conservatism is the preservation of family pedigree and tradition. Whether or not women work is a secondary issue. You seem to be making it the definitive issue.

    My larger argument has to do with the influence of liberalism on the political class.

    However, the specific issue of family is an important one. Again, here is the question: if the state continues its efforts to make women independent of men then what will this mean for family formation, for family stability, for the male work ethic and for patterns of family life?

    ReplyDelete
  36. And all of these ethnic groups have more educated career women than Western countries.

    Really? I don't believe you. In England, 50% of women are now going on to uni. What's the percentage for India or China? I bet it's more like 15%. (That's an educated guess).

    I think I'm going to have to write something basic about how the patriarchal family system works.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Anonymous wrote

    "The Western countries, since their abandonment of the Gold standard, have devalued their currencies and outsourced manufacturing and as long as these policies are not reversed, incomes will continue to fall in terms of purchasing power parity."

    I think this is accurate and relevant.

    Mark, I believe you have remarked upon the fact that some societies, as in India, have managed to retain their traditional social and cultural ways at the same time the women in those societies are increasingly managing careers, working to support the household by earning income.

    Is this any model for the West-- traditional integrity alongside economic slavery? I don't believe you are advocating this but there seems to be a contradiction here between conserving traditional values (family, community, civic life, etc.) and modernized social conditions that suit those who move the largest economic levers. Housing prices, which are obscene and artificial in many Western nations, are only the symptomatic tip of the iceberg.

    Conservatives tend not to see the most pressing problems as being in the economic sphere but more in our social development. Both are obviously linked closely and it comes back to the assertion of power and some measure of control by organized groups. Some groups are more conscious of their position than others.

    ReplyDelete
  38. "Really? I don't believe you. In England, 50% of women are now going on to uni. What's the percentage for India or China? I bet it's more like 15%. (That's an educated guess)."

    That comment confirms your limited world view. More like an uneducated guess. 50% of medical, engineering, sciences and Law places are held by women in India, Saudi Arabia and Iran, Pakistan and this pattern is repeated over much of Asia except Japan and S Korea. The major medical schools in Saudi Arabia have 50% women and I visited them and confirmed that. Few Western countries have 50 % women in science and engineering disciplines and although that figure is reached in Medicine and Law the majority of women students are studying useless Arts subjects with little employment prospects.

    A higher percentage of Asian women are in serious disciplines then Western women and indeed Asian dominance of medical schools is becoming prominent and similarly in the profession itself. And in the UK there are now three generations of Indian and Pakistani physician families with both husband and wife working in the profession, plenty of children doing better than whites academically and no divorces.

    India has the highest number of professional women in the world, the highest birth rates and the lowest divorce rates. I would suggest you read up a bit more about what the rest of the world is doing.

    ReplyDelete
  39. "The male wage was healthy enough in Australia until the 1970s. It has declined in real terms since then. But even now it would be possible to support a family on a single wage if the cost of housing wasn't so high. I myself am supporting a family on a modest teacher's salary"

    Western incomes have been falling since 1920s. In the 1930s an average lawyer or physician had a town house with servants, a country house and could put 4 children through boarding schools with ease. Today that is impossible except for the highest earners. The real purchasing power of money declined throughout the 20th C and declined precipitously after the 1970s when credit was expanded to obscure this fact and allow people to think they were still comfortably off.

    The cost of housing is high because the banks wanted to securatise the mortgages and trade them and mass immigration pushed up demand. As we all have to live in a home and we don't have the means to reduce the prices then it becomes imperative to have the income to cover the cost of housing. In addition school fees and other expenses make 2 incomes a necessity in many cases.

    ReplyDelete
  40. "However, the specific issue of family is an important one. Again, here is the question: if the state continues its efforts to make women independent of men then what will this mean for family formation, for family stability, for the male work ethic and for patterns of family life?"

    The rising fiscal deficits will likely necessitate cuts in welfare and hopefully the financing of single mothers can be stopped. But males also need to be compelled to support women. In Saudi Arabia men who father illegitimate children are sent to prison and their assets seized to pay for the child's upkeep, which means that illegitimacy is very rare. Not many people in the West know that. And so male irresponsiblity has to be punished rather than encouraged as it is in the West. In most parts of the world men are supposed to be the responsible ones and women the weaker ones. In the West the man plays the role of victim.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I think Mark and Anonymous are both right. I think the KEY is not stating one is more important or relevant than the other. That would be like arguing what blade was more important on the scissors. Mark is just focusing on one aspect of the problem and Anonymous is trying to say there’s more to it. I think Anonymous tone is annoying, but facts are facts.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I generally agree with the last Anonymous' comment. However, statements such as this:

    "That comment confirms your limited world view. More like an uneducated guess."

    Are not just annoying but idiotic. I would expect better from a scion of Victorian nobility. Mark has been pushing the Conservative agenda for years, have you? Pull your punches and discuss the issue sensibly or else don't and find a new hobby because discussing politics isn't for you.

    ReplyDelete
  43. She posts to facebook constantly. And she is incredibly irritating. "Oh I just baked homemade bread. I just jarred jam. Oh I just bought my daughter a cute dress. Etc etc etc. I need a good workout video for the WII any recommendations?"

    I mean it's really annoying. Imagine if Sarah Grimke was surrounded by a bunch of girls like that. They do seem a bit parasitical upon their husbands don't they?


    Sorry, I'm not seeing what's "incredibly irritating" and "really annoying" about her. In fact she sounds rather sweet. She clearly enjoys what she's doing, and she's excited enough to share her enthusiasm with others. Maybe what she's doing doesn't interest you, but I dare say you have some interests that other people would find uninteresting or even annoying.

    I don't see the "parasitical" aspect of it, either. Being a stay at home mother is hard work, and also essential for the proper raising of children. As a father, I hardly view my wife as a "parasite" - she's not sitting home eating chocolates and watching TV, she's raising our children, and far better she should do that than some stranger who doesn't even speak English.

    ReplyDelete
  44. As a female engineer and unwilling friend to many asians and indians...

    Females going out of their way to become doctors and engineers may not be such a good idea. Let's face it guys...I'm a girl and I'm not a circuits person and I ain't no Steve Jobs. I realized that I was a great engineer but I would never be an awesome engineer (my boss now he was an awesome engineer). My talents lie in different areas. I'm working on becoming awesome at something I have a genetic predisposition towards.

    Also, sure there are tons of non-white female engineers but most of them aren't that smart. Some are....but they are just as few and far between as white female engineers.

    My ex best friend is one of those 50% Indian Engineers and let me tell you....She had a 3.0 or lower GPA from college in comparison to my perfect 4.0 (hehehehe). She spends her days deleting lines of code. Whatever. Goodluck with that.

    White women....instead of deleting lines of code with your 2.0 GPA like the Asians and Indians....Have Children. White males (and ONLY white Males) are great at mechanical engineering. If white women had more children we'd have more white male engineers who beat the pants off of asians and indians any day.

    White women....before racking up 1/2 million dollars in medical school debt....Decide on whether having a male and female doctor household is worth not having an extra 2 kids. Essentially male doctors who marry fellow women doctors are going extinct. There are some exceptions but not many. (Exception would be this annoying female plastic surgeon from Perth with 6 kids)

    I think this is where Mark is coming from.

    My female professor who gave me lots of advice had 3 or 4 boys. I really admired her for that. She also told me, "Are u sure u want to work for these people?" and I did not understand what she was saying at all. But after working there I realized that none of the women were married, none had children, none were allowed to have children etc etc. Then I figured out why she had become a professor!!! So she could pursue her career and have time with her kids!!! Now she was a smart woman :) Also, a professor fits in with something a woman could be more 'awesome' at cuz teaching is in our blood. Get it??!?! YAY!

    Anyways....so there Anonymous Numero Dos! :) hehehe anonymous doppleganger :)

    Why were we talking about this?? huh.....moving on....

    ReplyDelete
  45. Eh...there's a lot more too the annoying housewife than what I said. I'm just saying that some of us women get what Grimke is saying and how she may have felt.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Fiona Wood Director of Royal Perth Hospital and plastic surgeon....I'm basically jealous....I was upset a long time till I found an interview where she admitted that she had nannies!!! But six kids is the exception to the rule for doctors.

    ReplyDelete
  47. THANK YOU for posting this! I love your blog!!

    Commmon Cents
    http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com

    ps. Link Exchange??

    ReplyDelete
  48. That comment confirms your limited world view. More like an uneducated guess.

    Anonymous, I rarely get personal with commenters. But you are a world class dope.

    Really, you overestimate your own knowledge and intelligence. And it's annoying. You waste my time. I respond to your nonsense, which then leads on to more nonsense.

    Let's go through the latest. You claimed that,

    "The marriage practices of Orthodox Jews, Indians, Chinese and most Asians have seen their societies preserved through holocausts, wars, socialism, communism and all manner of evils. And all of these ethnic groups have more educated career women than Western countries."

    More educated career women? That's obviously nonsense. India and China are still developing. It's impossible that they could have a similar percentage of women going on to higher education and careers.

    I noted that the figure in England for women going on to university is now 50%. I guessed that in China and India it would be more like 15%.

    You responded with your usual pompous arrogance:

    That comment confirms your limited world view. More like an uneducated guess.

    Great. So now I have to waste more time responding to more nonsense.

    OK, so here goes. According to this document, only 4% of women in the Indian subcontinent go on to university. That's 4% compared to 50% of Englishwomen.

    Only 53% of Indian women are even literate, let alone pursuing educated careers.

    Anonymous, if you want to keep posting here you need to do a couple of things:

    a) cut out the pompous, overblown, unjustified self-regard. Otherwise I'll start deleting.

    b) be more careful in writing the claims you make. Sometimes there's an element of truth in them but it's overlaid with exaggerated, sometimes nonsensical, claims.

    If you had written that "women make up a good percentage of students in the medical faculties at Indian universities" I would have thought your claim credible (I don't know if it's true, but it could be.)

    Instead, you came up with an absurd claim that there are more educated career women in India than in the West.

    Stuff and nonsense. I won't have my time wasted if you continue with it, I'll just begin deleting.

    Don't troll. Write a comment or two which gets right to your argument. Put in some credible facts in support. Drop the arrogant posturing.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Richardson: "Instead, you came up with an absurd claim that there are more educated career women in India than in the West.

    Stuff and nonsense. I won't have my time wasted if you continue with it, I'll just begin deleting."

    - Yes, she is not writing honestly.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Really? I don't believe you. In England, 50% of women are now going on to uni. What's the percentage for India or China? I bet it's more like 15%. (That's an educated guess).

    That's a weak argument . Especially among hindu upper castes almost 80% women go to Uni, and arranged marriage is still the rage.

    ReplyDelete
  51. ---OK, so here goes. According to this document, only 4% of women in the Indian subcontinent go on to university---

    Ok.Point taken.

    But that article conveniently ignores the number of men that take up the tertiary education.

    Besides If you compare vis-a-vis caste system, Women of upper castes thanks to affirmative action occupy a substantial portion of the current university system.

    Of course you could say that we are just one generation into modernity and future could bring in some unexpected changes

    ReplyDelete
  52. Bhanu Prasad,

    Am I wrong in supposing that India is changing, particularly in the larger cities, to something more along Western lines?

    From what I've read, sexual mores are still stricter in India than in the West. However, the question is what will happen now that some women are beginning to participate in the paid professional workforce.

    There has already been some dramatically feminist legislation passed in India. And I read at your site that it's becoming more common for some urban women to delay marriage until their 30s, just like in the West.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Ok you know what.....I go for excellence.

    If you aren't achieving excellence then you aren't achieving.

    So....I don't really consider deleting lines of code or being a lab rat in some college university biology lab a career.

    Sorry.

    And those are what most of the people do...

    I know more whites who achieve 'excellence' then Asians and Indians (although that number is insanely small). My old company was 100% white male and it was because they were all fucking genius. But I mean if you work at some compi sci department at Deloitte and Touche then sure they'll all be indians. But really...what do they DO???

    Also...I know tons of Indian (muslim) women who get married very young and become stay at home moms. I also know lots of Indian women who get half-assed degrees, low gpa's, then get the lab rat or compi sci add comments to code job (because they are h1b visa) and call that a career, until they marry an Indian guy with a mercedes and pop out kids.

    Of all the men I've met..asian white indian...the white guys at my old company had it on everyone...of course they were autistic and weird...but ignore that....and of all the women I know...White women in the end....I believe the ones who go for it....Achieve Excellence moreso then say indians or asians. I have tons of asian friends who went to CalTech and now are like perpetual students..still don't know what they do to be honest. But whatever. It's all your definition of success and education.

    ReplyDelete
  54. "Anonymous, I rarely get personal with commenters. But you are a world class dope.

    Really, you overestimate your own knowledge and intelligence. And it's annoying. You waste my time. I respond to your nonsense, which then leads on to more nonsense."

    What an idiot! Is it little wonder that the education system in Australia is failing if this is an example of the type of people who are doing the teaching?

    If Australians are dependent upon losers like this fellow to revive Conservativism then they are doomed.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Am I wrong in supposing that India is changing, particularly in the larger cities, to something more along Western lines?

    Mark,

    Yes we are changing.

    But I am not sure whether it is on western lines.

    Women and men having pre-marital affairs mostly stick to their first mate and jump into marriage. The bar culture is non-existent. Crime rate is very very low compared to few western cities. And more importantly caste system is still prevalent and we still give superior value to conformity.

    When we reach first world(that's a long long journey) we will have a distinct culture, and not on lines of west.

    For example look at japan. It bears no resemblance to your own western civilization.

    Hope that clears off the air :)

    Actually I was contesting your claim that India will be just an another western country inhabited by brown people, once women educate themselves.

    Western conservatives and liberals have a hasty view that western civilization is universal.

    ReplyDelete
  56. "Am I wrong in supposing that India is changing, particularly in the larger cities, to something more along Western lines?"

    Yes you are wrong. India is India. Its economy is booming, there is massive infrastructure development but traditional culture is preserved and adapts to modernity. India will never be like the West.



    From what I've read, sexual mores are still stricter in India than in the West. However, the question is what will happen now that some women are beginning to participate in the paid professional workforce.

    Sexual mores in India - chastity before marriage, no dating and arranged marriages.

    Women working makes no difference. Women in India have been working for many years in the paid professional workforce. Why would working make a woman sexually promiscuous? Morality is the issue and not work.

    ReplyDelete
  57. --However, the question is what will happen now that some women are beginning to participate in the paid professional workforce.

    There has already been some dramatically feminist legislation passed in India.--

    Yup, I agree. There have been some dramatic feminist legislations that have been passed. Democracy is a flawed concept, and unlike the rosy picture projected by media, it ends up giving voting power to worthless people. As we have adopted democracy, and as women have voting rights, the feminist legislations are inevitable.

    But we are also a community driven society with huge emphasis on family honor. Any woman that uses those feminist legislation and her family are ostracized. In an essence there is a tussle between the tradition driven community to laws framed by liberal-brainwashed indian "intelligentia"

    ReplyDelete
  58. I am a different Anonymous and i support the Anonymous who has written about the economics of the Western world and the numbers of graduates from the Third World and it seems you are not understanding the points which have been made.

    Your comments were peurile and rude. It seems that you want to block and threaten anyone who does not agree with you. Your responses have no substance and you lower yourself to rudeness when you have no counterargument.

    Fact:

    China and India produce higher NUMBERS of graduates than the West although the PERCENTAGES of educated people is lower.

    ReplyDelete
  59. "Your comments were peurile and rude. It seems that you want to block and threaten anyone who does not agree with you."

    Assuming that your comment (and my comment) isn't deleted I just have to say, you have got to be kidding. You and the other anonymous seem incapable of making an argument without statements along the lines of "you are an idiot, you have a limited world view". That is pathetic. This is a perfectly civilised debate forum and you are traducing it. An open forum does not mean that you have the licence to be rude.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Anonymous (the rude one),

    As promised I've deleted your last comment. You made an argument in it but once again surrounded it with unwarranted personal invective. As Tom Cruise once famously said to an Australian journalist:

    "Get some manners".

    ReplyDelete
  61. Anonymous (who supports rude anonymous),

    I responded politely and with arguments several times to rude anonymous before losing patience. I asked rude anonymous to rein in his offensive language but was ignored. Not only am I under no obligation to put up with the personal attacks, it derails and unnecessarily personalises the comments thread.

    I delete about 1% of comments, usually for being personal attacks on other commenters. This is the first time I've ever deleted one, in the five year history of this site, for rudeness towards me.

    As to the counterargument that has been made, that there are larger numbers in an absolute sense of women graduates in India and China, that is beside the point.

    If India has 4% of female graduates and England 50%, the larger effect on society will still be in England.

    ReplyDelete
  62. An open forum does not mean that you have the licence to be rude.

    Jesse, thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Bhanu Prasad,

    Thanks for the perspective. It seems from what you're saying that India is still very different in its mores from the West.

    However, I have to disagree with the anonymous commenter who wrote:

    Women working makes no difference. Women in India have been working for many years in the paid professional workforce. Why would working make a woman sexually promiscuous? Morality is the issue and not work.

    Western women were once also highly moral. Certainly in the early 1900s, and to a degree even still in the 1950s.

    So what changed? Certainly the decline of the churches contributed. So too did the growth of a liberal politics which emphasised autonomy and individual emancipation from any form of external authority.

    But women entering the workforce does have some influence. It's not necessarily the case that women are naturally monogamous any more than men are. If men and women have accepted monogamy in the past it's partly because that was part of a larger family culture. Men got to be (relatively) certain of their paternity and could therefore invest their efforts into accumulating property to pass on to their progeny. Women got the benefit of the material security that resulted.

    When women become financially independent of men the deal changes - particularly from the side of women.

    Women might then think that they can get the traditional benefits of property but without making the traditional sacrifice of sexual autonomy.

    It took Western society about 70 years to go from female careerism to a loosening of female sexual morality. It was a slow process, but it did eventuate. I don't think India is entirely immune from going through the same process.

    ReplyDelete
  64. "When women become financially independent of men the deal changes - particularly from the side of women.

    Women might then think that they can get the traditional benefits of property but without making the traditional sacrifice of sexual autonomy.

    It took Western society about 70 years to go from female careerism to a loosening of female sexual morality. It was a slow process, but it did eventuate. I don't think India is entirely immune from going through the same process."

    I don't see the logic of your argument either in terms of finance and sexual promiscuity or in the somewhat naive belief that non Western countries are the same as Western ones and will follow the same cultural course.

    Sexual promiscuity and immorality are not related to finance. They are moral and cultural issues. Black African women in Africa are highly sexually promiscuous and yet are neither educated nor financially independent. Thus one can be illiterate, impoverished and yet highly promiscuous.

    The majority of sexually promiscuous women in the West are not the highly educated elites but the unemployed and underemployed. Women working in high level jobs cannot afford to damage their reputations. An analysis of the data at any abortion/ STD clinic will demonstrate that.


    In India women started entering medical and professional schools in the early 20th centuries. Indira Ghandi went to Oxford.Female higher education in India is not new and has always been strongly encouraged by the higher castes long before the West caught on.

    The cultural difference between India and indeed all of Asia and the West is that relations between men and women are largely focused on marriage and the latter is arranged to preserve family status and tradition. Contrast this with the West where male/female relationships are all about entertainment (dating) with marriage a distant option and usually entered into (if at all) with minimal consideration of the partner's suitability for permanent family life.


    In Asian cultures sex before marriage is not acceptable, dating is in general frowned upon, courtships if they are allowed are brief and marriages are arranged by families according to social pedigree, finances and education. The emphasis of Asia is on family formation and stability and not on sex and transient emotions. Asian marriages are arranged to preserve culture and tradition. Premarital relationships and divorce are not part of that tradition.

    Women who have had sexual relationships before marriage become unmarriagable. It is easier for a highly educated Asian women to secure a better deal in marriage than it is for a less educated woman hence the higher competition for places in good schools.

    As long as Asia retains its arranged marriage tradition, it will not go the way of the West. And arranged marriages are as popular as ever. Asians don't believe that romance and sexual attraction are a basis for marriage and so there is little interest in following the West, especialy when they see where that path goes. There is no interest in changing these traditions.

    ReplyDelete
  65. "Western women were once also highly moral. Certainly in the early 1900s, and to a degree even still in the 1950s.

    So what changed? Certainly the decline of the churches contributed. So too did the growth of a liberal politics which emphasised autonomy and individual emancipation from any form of external authority."


    There are plenty of Western women who are still highly moral. You asked what changed and the answer is that the role of marriage changed in the West from being one of a tool for family formation to one of self indulgence.

    Up to the 1960s the predominant basis for marriage was social and economic background and certain traditons were followed eg doctors married doctors' daughters, army officers married army officers' and diplomats' daughter etc. Parental consent was required for marriages.

    In the 1960s, this system collapsed and marriage was entered into on the basis of romance and sexual attraction with little concern for long term compatibility and parental approval. If relationships are all about romance and sex, then people start to date for entertainment, sexual mores are loosened and as sex and romance cannot sustain relationships alone, the relationships are constantly breaking down and there is a constant search for the next "perfect" partner.

    Western romance is an illusion and in pursuing this illusion, Westerners become like Africans and are just as promiscuous.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Black African women in Africa are highly sexually promiscuous and yet are neither educated nor financially independent.

    But in a sense they are financially independent. A lot of black American households are led by single mothers. Whether they work or are on welfare, they are financially independent of men.

    As a consequence you get the pattern of female sexual autonomy, in which men have merely walk on roles, in which women choose different fathers for their children, in which women are "liberated" to choose thuggish qualities for their lovers, and in which many young black men no longer have such an incentive to commmit themselves to a breadwinning role and/or exist on the margins of society with a high rate of incarceration.

    ReplyDelete
  67. Anonymous,

    I agree that relationships should be based predominantly on compatibility for marriage rather than sex or romance.

    But the question is why Western culture changed. The change happened over quite a long time. There were stirrings of it even back in the early 1800s (i.e. a desire for there to be more emphasis on romance and less on family influence).

    You have to remember that Western societies have pushed the liberal value of autonomy - of self-sovereignty, independence and self-determination - for a long time now.

    That's what ties together the feminist insistence on careerism and financial independence for women with the historic shift toward marriage based on autonomous choice.

    The more radical liberals, even back in the 1800s, thought the ideal was one of "free love" in which relationships could be broken off at will.

    Western feminists have long argued for the "sexual liberation" of women, by which they mean the pursuit of relationships by women based on sex alone, rather than either romance or marriage.

    What Western conservatives have to do, therefore, is to establish the legitimacy of values other than autonomy, for unless this is done the political class will continue its "moral" mission to undo the traditional family.

    It's important to remember, too, that the shift to female careerism is not an innocent one in the West. It's part of the liberal aim to make gender not matter. And it's part of the radical aim to destroy the traditional family system (i.e. the patriarchal family) because this family system is what creates the established order of society.

    What will happen if the liberals/radicals get their way? What will happen if a large percentage of women no longer see the need to give up some part of their sexual autonomy in order to get the traditional benefits of marriage - because these benefits have been arranged outside of marriage for them by the liberal state?

    The state is actively working in the West to undermine the role of men as providers. The state is taking over this role. For lower paid men, who can't keep up with what the state can offer to women, this is a disaster. But the consequences will be felt too by the average man.

    It's important for traditionalists to oppose any artificial undermining of the provider role of men by the state.

    ReplyDelete
  68. BTW, I disagree that romance is an illusion. It can easily take on an illusory character, which is one reason why it can't be allowed to be the predominant influence on relationships. But it's too ingrained in our emotional life to wholly deny. Even longtime married men are happiest when their wives are also their lovers.

    ReplyDelete
  69. "But in a sense they are financially independent. A lot of black American households are led by single mothers. Whether they work or are on welfare, they are financially independent of men."

    I am not talking about America. I am talking about Black African women in Africa - Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uganda - the whole of the subsaharan Africa is awash with promiscuity AIDS and STDs. There is no welfare in Africa and so the point you are making about welfare in the USA is not relevant. Women in Africa have no financial support from the state and yet this does not control their sexuality.

    Black women in Africa with no financial support behave in a manner more rampantly sexually promiscuous than black women in the USA. They have even more illegitimate children than those in the USA and when they can't feed them they abandon them on the streets, as in Brasil and Manila. A lot of these children get shot by the Police as in Rio.

    Black African women who are not promiscuous are usually Muslims (most frequently) or Christians.

    Thus the financial argument is largely irrelevant. Money alone doesn't control behaviour.

    ReplyDelete
  70. "You have to remember that Western societies have pushed the liberal value of autonomy - of self-sovereignty, independence and self-determination - for a long time now.

    That's what ties together the feminist insistence on careerism and financial independence for women with the historic shift toward marriage based on autonomous choice."

    All societies have liberals, atheists, communists and people who want to change society radically but they have to be controlled and in most they are controlled by being ignored by the majority who preserve tradition.

    In the West the family structure was weakened by the pursuit of romantic love which weakened the bond of marriage and the extended family which supported it. Marriage thus became a fragile institution and people relied on it less. Careers and the State became more reliable.

    In countries with arranged marriages where marriage is a social and religious duty and people are locked into marriages by a web of social, professional and commercial interests then the institution of family and marriage is much stronger and liberals are more easily and forcibly resisted.

    Another factor is that large extended and interconnected families are more powerful than the state and in some countries effectively control and moderate politicians.

    Women are pursuing careers everywhere but only in Western societies has it lead to marital instability. Everywhere else tradition continues as it has done for the previous centuries.

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  71. "I disagree that romance is an illusion. It can easily take on an illusory character, which is one reason why it can't be allowed to be the predominant influence on relationships. But it's too ingrained in our emotional life to wholly deny. Even longtime married men are happiest when their wives are also their lovers"

    How do you propose to stop romance being an illusion and being the predominant influence on relationships? Unless there is a formal system where parents and relatives who can be objective about a relationship are involved in the process of arranging marriages then there is no control over romantic illusions.

    It is not too engrained in the emotional lives of the West and a lot of the elites don't even consider it for anything other than a short term transaction.

    Marriages have to be arranged for the common good of society and the care of children and not just the satisfaction of men. It is very immature for a man to put his own feelings above the common good and perhaps that is why society is becoming more infantilised.

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  72. Anonymous said,

    "How do you propose to stop romance being an illusion and being the predominant influence on relationships? Unless there is a formal system where parents and relatives who can be objective about a relationship are involved in the process of arranging marriages then there is no control over romantic illusions."

    But this formal system is a traditional culture which is undermined by the push for individual autonomy. If you say to a family member these days I disapprove of your partner you may be told that that's none of your business. Individual autonomy has been promoted to the highest good. I agree that work is perhaps not of highest importance but the promotion of individual autonomy certainly is.

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  73. But this formal system is a traditional culture which is undermined by the push for individual autonomy. If you say to a family member these days I disapprove of your partner you may be told that that's none of your business.

    Exactly. The idea of arranged marriages breaches the rule of individual autonomy and therefore won't be accepted.

    Anonymous, we in the West are in a situation in which the political class in charge doesn't even see the continuation of the white majority as a necessary or desirable result. So it's no use arguing to them that a more formal system of promoting marriage would help stabilise society. They don't want stability, they want, as Nick Clegg in the UK said, a radical transformation of society.

    So nothing useful will happen until we establish an alternative politics to the dominant liberal one of today.

    It is very immature for a man to put his own feelings above the common good

    Agreed. But then liberal leaders like Nick Clegg openly reject the idea that there is a common good. They think that the notion of a common good is a threat to individual autonomy.

    The thing is that the West was pretty good at raising self-sacrificing family men, even when I was growing up in the 1970s and early 80s. But what if young women no longer select for such men because they've been brought up to believe that it's their right to have an independent single girl lifestyle in their 20s and to pursue casual relationships?

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  74. “Marriages have to be arranged for the common good of society and the care of children and not just the satisfaction of men. It is very immature for a man to put his own feelings above the common good and perhaps that is why society is becoming more infantilised.”

    Arrange sounds a lot better than force, but that’s exactly what arranged is intended to mean in this context. Sure, controlling and forcing people will always insure stability, but is forcing the way to achieve the highest good?

    Here is an analogy I use that gets to my point, if someone was to use Microsoft Windows Explorer as their web browser, they are more likely to be infected by a virus than Apples Safari browser. Why? Because Windows Explorer is a more open “freer” for software developers to create application. Therefore hackers and spammers are more likely to run amuck; this is the moral hazard for a freer system. Having say that, I believe teaching (persuading) correct principles so others may govern themselves is the higher good, along with enforcing + - consequences. Though teaching, persuading and + - consequences may not be effective as forcing (arranging) it is the freer way. This is where I think liberals in the US get it wrong. They feel they need to bubble rap everything and they believe that enforcing more rules will somehow prevent bad things from happening.

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  75. “Marriages have to be arranged for the common good of society and the care of children and not just the satisfaction of men. It is very immature for a man to put his own feelings above the common good and perhaps that is why society is becoming more infantilised.”

    Arrange sounds a lot better than force, but that’s exactly what arranged is intended to mean in this context. Sure, controlling and forcing people will always insure stability, but is forcing the way to achieve the highest good?

    Here is an analogy I use that gets to my point, if someone was to use Microsoft Windows Explorer as their web browser, they are more likely to be infected by a virus than Apples Safari browser. Why? Because Windows Explorer is a more open “freer” for software developers to create application. Therefore hackers and spammers are more likely to run amuck; this is the moral hazard for a freer system. Having say that, I believe teaching (persuading) correct principles so others may govern themselves is the higher good, along with enforcing + - consequences. Though teaching, persuading and + - consequences may not be effective as forcing (arranging) it is the freer way. This is where I think liberals in the US get it wrong. They feel they need to bubble rap everything and they believe that enforcing more rules will somehow prevent bad things from happening.

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  76. "All societies have liberals, atheists, communists and people who want to change society radically but they have to be controlled and in most they are controlled by being ignored by the majority who preserve tradition."

    Hear, hear.

    A thought for the future.

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  77. All societies have liberals, atheists, communists and people who want to change society radically but they have to be controlled and in most they are controlled by being ignored by the majority who preserve tradition.

    That's a good description of a functioning society. The problem is when the heights of society are captured by the radicals. Then it's not adequate for the majority to simply ignore the minority.

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  78. "The problem is when the heights of society are captured by the radicals. Then it's not adequate for the majority to simply ignore the minority."

    That's true.

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  79. --Exactly. The idea of arranged marriages breaches the rule of individual autonomy and therefore won't be accepted.--

    There in lies the difference. For us, individual freedom is at the bottom of the heap and the same is on top of the list for you.

    An Individualistic culture would produce much more excellence(in all the fields) than the restrictive societies of the east.

    But in the end, individualistic or collectivistc, feminisn and female careerism produces zero birth rates and civilization decline.

    Japan is setting into twilight of history with a zero birth rate and the hindu upper castes have already "achieved" that "mark" of "progress".

    We HAVE a common problem on our hands

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  80. Bhanu Prasad,

    An interesting comment, thanks.

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  81. "Exactly. The idea of arranged marriages breaches the rule of individual autonomy and therefore won't be accepted."

    Arranged marriages don't breach the rule of individual autonomy they just restrict individual autonomy. People can chose their partners as long as their partners are acceptable to their families and the families do the essential negotiations which is pretty similar to how things were in the West pre-1960s.


    Marriage without parental consent was unacceptable before the 1960s and people were not able to marry partners of whom their families disapproved. There was a social stigma against those who eloped.

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  82. "Japan is setting into twilight of history with a zero birth rate and the hindu upper castes have already "achieved" that "mark" of "progress"."

    Japan does not have female careerism so what is the explanation for the low birth rates.

    Low Indian birth rates are highly desirable. The country is grossly over populated.

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  83. "That's a good description of a functioning society. The problem is when the heights of society are captured by the radicals. Then it's not adequate for the majority to simply ignore the minority."

    Radicals cannot capture the heights of society without the support and consent, explicit or implicit, of the majority. People get the leaders they vote for in a democracy. People voted for Nick Clegg.If the majority of the population were strongly traditionalist and radically opposed to liberalism, then liberals would not be elected. In the West, the majority are themselves liberals by active decision or passive apathy and complacency.

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  84. I agree that society is complicit to a degree with what their leaders do, although they voted in greater number for the Tories than Nick Clegg. That's hardly a revolutionary insight, but what precisely IS your point? Disagreement for the sake of disagreement. What, apart from attacking conservatives here, is your plan? Are you not complicit too by blasting away at the right rather than trying to think of practical ways to defeat or grapple with the left?

    You've mentioned arranged marriages. Ok well that requires a strong recognition of the importance of the family to be accepted, which as was stated is preseved by many cultures. Your plan go on. Hello? Over here I'm talking to you. Please deign to address someone other than the author of this blog.

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  85. I agree with Jesse_7, what is the point, what is this higher good you are trying to communicate? You have stated that arranged Marriages better stabilize culture, but where do you draw the line between shunning and forcing? If we want to truly stabilize and preserve a culture we can take a militaristic approach to society; an adult is told what to do with their time in all things for the “common good”. I reject this idea. However, if someone willfully chooses to live within this society then he at least had a choice and he should also have a choice to leave this society. I’m all about shunning, persuading and influencing, but not forcing.

    If I had a daughter who had homosexual tendencies, ideally I would tell her I shun homosexual acts and I would try to influence her not to act upon her tendencies, but I’m not about to force her out of our family life, disown her or even kill her as they do in some parts of the east. Sure, forcing her out and disowning her would stabilize our family tradition, but I think this is a more Old Testament approach and I choose to live a New Testament life.

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  86. Mark,

    I agree with your caveat but the radicals always maneuver predictably and seek to replace the establishment with their own regimes. They are succeeding in this while we have gradually acquiesced in the face of their campaigns, our overall economic success and many other influences. Necessity no longer dictates a strong traditional basis for societal or individual success.

    "Kristor" summarizes at VFR a chain of events and trends that have fed this modern decline:

    http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/016443.html

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  87. Kristor's summary is very much worth reading. I don't think it's a complete reading of how things developed, but it captures a certain angle most ably.

    I especially liked this:

    "Modern culture is a veritable hurricane of vicious cycles, all originating in a gnostic pretense: Let's pretend that there is no inherent nature of things, so that we may mess ad libitum with the family, sex, economics, and culture, with no ill consequences."

    Le'te pretend there is no inherent nature of things. I do think this is part of the liberal Zeitgeist. Even some of those on the right who recognise that there are some destructive social trends still seem to cling to this idea - which keeps them as moderns rather than traditionalists.

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  88. The concision with which Kristor summarized the gnostic-liberal connection was a beautiful thing to behold.

    But, Mr. Richardson, you say you've spotted something missing. You don't need to go into detail, but would you mind sketching it out briefly. I'm very interested in this topic.

    Thanks

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  89. Bartholomew, I'll post a comment on this shortly.

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