I read three articles this week which give some idea of the problem. The first was by someone in the men's movement proposing the creation of what he calls the "Zeta Male". The author of the Zeta Male genuinely believes he is breaking the mould in what he is suggesting. But when you get to the details it turns out there is nothing new at all.
The Zeta Male is the product of an orthodox liberalism. Liberalism tells us that the highest good is to be autonomous; freedom, therefore, means being self-determining. Our sex is not something we self-determine; it is predetermined. So liberals become hostile to traditional sex roles, believing they are impediments to a freedom to do as we will.
And the Zeta Male follows along obediently with the logic of liberal autonomy theory. The Zeta Male is a man who rejects the role of being a provider or protector (a "white knight") in order to be free to do as he pleases. The Zeta Male, in fact, rejects the role of husband and father altogether in order to be free to do as he pleases.
What if there are men who enjoy being a provider and protector within a family? The Zeta Male author has never met one and thinks that his readers will think such an existence to be crazy, but on reflection he is willing to let such men have this option as long as it doesn't encourage any societal expectations:
The key to overcoming this risk ... is to make it clear to everyone at all times that they have options. From a young age we should teach boys that they do not have to be the defenders of honor and society.
You can see the individualism at play here. In order to be radically autonomous I have to be taught from an early age that I have no role in defending society.
Obviously, someone who accepts this mindset is not going to be motivated to defend his tradition. They will be motivated by little more than hedonism:
We are free to live, act, and feel as we please. It may seem hedonistic...Here's more from the Zeta Male:
We are doing what we want, taking our lives into our own hands. The traditional institutional notions of masculinity will be at our mercy.
The traditional ideals of masculinity are going to be clay in our hands. Zeta male theory lets us mold the social institutions to our will. But first we have a different goal: to take it down.
Gender roles are highly institutionalized in society, and with all institutions, that are created. They can also be taken apart, and in the long run, that is what the goal is...
Zeta males have every intention of breaking apart society, and building it right back up how we see fit. How do we see the new masculinity in its most ideal form? Freedom.
...In fact you might not even want to be seen as a man, and that is fine too. As long as you are who you want to be and can keep your head up high with pride you fit into the new design. For better or for worse, there is no shame in who you have decided to be as long as you are happy with it.
This is very predictable: the argument is that sex roles are just social constructs that we can recreate according to our own will as a proof of our freedom, with the ultimate proof of freedom being not identifying as a man at all.
Has any civilisation ever endured on such a basis? If men no longer have pride in masculinity and in their role as the defenders of society, then a civilisation will inevitably decline. We should not be surprised that the West is in trouble when such a philosophy dominates.
The second article I read was by a sex negative feminist. Although she is heterosexual, she believes that it is politically wrong for women to have vaginal (PIV) intercourse. Why? She sees it as an act of colonisation of women by men:
people throughout history have had something in common: they dont like being colonized. that is, people coming into your neighborhood and setting up shop in YOUR SPACE. when this happens, and it has happened to many peoples, around the world, the people who have been colonized understand what has happened to them. they have lost their autonomy
PIV, complains this feminist woman, keeps women dependent on men:
PIV ... *is* a fundamental part of the narrative that keeps us in servitude, to men ... because PIV causes pregnancy. PIV causes illness. pregnancy, illness, and babies (upon babies, upon babies) cause women to become dependant on others, on men
PIV, by causing pregnancy, interferes with women's careers:
PIV is known to destroy womens careers, and their livelihoods, as well. not even considering the “mommy track” that so many women allegedly “choose,” even if you have an early abortion, you are risking getting in trouble at work if you are too sick to come in, in the first weeks and months of pregnancy due to morning sickness.
Finally, PIV is also thought wrong because it causes women to bond emotionally with men:
PIV hurts and is harmful to women, but not to men. how can you tell? we form emotional bonds with men we have f... look at the most common “female response” to PIV (emotional attachment)
i have written here before, mostly for the benefit of the young uns, that its extremely important that you never, ever, become dependant on a man, for any reason. mostly i meant financially, because thats a big one, HUGE in fact, and its so easily fallen into. but this one is new, and it surprised me. PIV makes you emotionally dependant on your partner, and emotionally invested in the relationship to a large degree, because you might need him in a pinch
These ideas are obviously at the more radical end of the feminist spectrum, written by a gloomy, unhappy 30-year-old woman who has majored in women's studies. But there's a logic to her position: sex does involve a woman committing her trust to a man and bonding emotionally with a man. And motherhood does leave a woman more dependent on a husband and less available for careers. So sex might seem emblematic of a loss of female autonomy - a problem, perhaps, if you've been "educated" to think of men as your oppressors and autonomy as the prize to be fought for in competition with men.
Anyway, women brought up within this kind of intellectual framework are hardly going to commit themselves to motherhood and a stable family life. They are not going to provide the next generation of Westerners.
Both the feminist and the Zeta male have rejected the traditional family roles that are necessary for communal traditions to endure.
But Western intellectuals need not remain caught in the liberal trap. The third article I read was the most positive one. It was written by a woman who is conflicted about this whole issue. She has clearly been influenced by feminism, but she nonetheless can't accept the goal of total independence from men:
I’ll never forget a scrap of conversation I heard on the radio. A young couple with a new baby found themselves in a terrible fix, jobless, homeless, rejected by family. The young woman, overwhelmed, cried out, “I just wish you could fix everything!” and her boyfriend responded not with anger, but with a postmodern whine: “That’s totally unfair—what a sexist construct!” And the woman wept, “I know, I know.”
But she didn’t want to be pampered—she just wanted, as a mother and wife, to be sheltered for a moment, even if only by words of comfort. She wanted to know that he would at least try to take care of her and the baby—and surely he wanted to believe that he was capable and strong, a real man. But the world had taught them both that what they wanted was something foolish, artificial, and archaic. And so they did not know what to do—neither one of them.
My husband and I depend on each other equally, but in different ways—why is that so terrible to admit? Women and men alike have been robbed of a very basic human understanding of couplehood—but the longing doesn’t go away. Women long to be cared for. This is not wrong.
When I am pregnant, I know my husband will care for me. When I’m tired, he will help. When someone insults me, he will defend me. When I spend time caring for babies and the house, I’ll be met with gratitude, not mocked and belittled. I’m no shrinking violet, but sometimes I just plain need him—and he needs to be needed.
She has begun to assert other goods, those connected to marriage and family, rather than just an individualistic autonomy. She justifies these goods not in terms of an ideology, but as a lived experience of what connects men and women in relationships and of what is natural for men and women to gift each other within a marriage.
She is no longer caught in the trap which is proving so harmful to the West. She can marry and raise children and create a family of her own. She is not stuck within a limiting ideology; her mind is more free in this sense than either the Zeta male or the radical feminist.
She has found a way forward, we need others to follow.