Sunday, January 22, 2012

An antifeminist advice columnist?

In the 1980s feminist Sara Ruddick wrote in favour of abolishing a distinctly paternal role in the family. She looked forward,

to the day when men are willing and able to share equally and actively in transformed maternal practices...On that day there will be no more 'fathers,' no more people of either sex who have power over their children's lives and moral authority in their children's world ... There will [instead] be mothers of both sexes.

But are men who adopt such a role likely to keep the respect of their wives? American advice columnist Amy Alkon thinks not:

Heterosexual women might think they want the feminist ideal of a man (a sort of apron-wearing, assertiveness-free co-mommy), but here's what happened to the marriage of one man who left his testosterone at a bus stop somewhere:

Elliott Katz was stunned to find himself in the middle of a divorce after two kids and 10 years of marriage. The Torontonian, a policy analyst for the Ottawa government, blamed his wife. "She just didn't appreciate all I was doing to make her happy." He fed the babies, and he changed their diapers. He gave them their baths, he read them stories, and put them to bed. Before he left for work in the morning, he made them breakfast. He bought a bigger house and took on the financial burden, working evenings to bring in enough money so his wife could stay home full-time.

He thought the solution to the discontent was for her to change. But once on his own, missing the daily interaction with his daughters, he couldn't avoid some reflection. "I didn't want to go through this again. I asked whether there was something I could have done differently. After all, you can wait years for someone else to change."

What he decided was, indeed, there were some things he could have done differently--like not tried as hard to be so noncontrolling that his wife felt he had abandoned decision-making entirely.

Amy Alkon goes on to write in the comments that the belief that men and women are the same has led some well-meaning but confused men to be less masculine than they need to be in relationships. She also has a policy of not taking over the symbolically masculine role in a relationship:

Men feel good about getting to be the man in a relationship. Why take that away from them?

Anyway, it seems that those promoting a unisex maternal role in the family are going to meet at least some resistance from heterosexual women who need a man to show some level of self-assertion, decisiveness and leadership in a marriage.


  1. I'm glad the Psychology Today article that began with an interview with me sparked this discussion. What is the underlying cause for so many men being in this situation? Many men today weren't taught the insights about being a man that fathers and other older male role models used to teach younger men.
    What are these manly lessons?
    Show leadership. So many men so fear being accused of being controlling they have gone to the other extreme and leave all decisions to the woman. This is why many women feel like single parents.
    Make decisions. A man who avoids making decisions is shirking his responsibilities. I couldn't count the number of single women who told me how fed up they are when a man asks them on a date and can't even choose a place to go for coffee. He wants her to decide.
    Take responsibility. Don't blame your wife, even if you feel she pushed you into doing something that you knew would turn out badly. Nobody has any sympathy for a man who says he's a victim of a woman. People will say, "You're the man. Why did you let it go on?"
    My book, "Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants: Timeless Wisdom on Being a Man" shares these lessons and more that I learned on my journey seeking insights on being a man. The book is striking a chord around the world -- it's being translated into 22 languages by publishers in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
    Elliott Katz

  2. Promiscuity is another factor in the breakdown of marriages and the nuclear family but liberals don't like to hear that.

  3. no more people of either sex who have power over their children's lives and moral authority in their children's world

    This claim reduces parents to babysitters. If parents shouldn't have power and moral authority, who should?

  4. Elliott Katz, thanks for the comment. I liked this comment from your website:

    The last 50 years have brought a shift in gender roles and relationship expectations. Men have been told they must learn how to please women and evolve beyond the patriarchal stereotypes of their forefathers. But no matter how hard he works at trying to please women, the path of the sensitive new age guy is strewn with frustration, bewilderment and resentment.

    What do women want? A healthy woman wants a strong man, a man who can make a decision, a man who can be depended on, a man who can look out for the best interests of his loved ones, a man who does the right thing - not the easy, popular or expedient thing.

  5. This claim reduces parents to babysitters.

    Good point. You have to wonder if Sara Ruddick had actually had children when she wrote her book. Children don't come into the world civilised. They very much need their parents to exercise moral authority and to guide their development. What should have concerned Ruddick is the issue of how skillfully parents exercise moral authority.

  6. What should have concerned Ruddick is the issue of how skillfully parents exercise moral authority.
    I doubt she wants nobody to be moral authorities for children. If she's serious about what she says, then I conclude she wants appropriately liberal government employees like teachers and social workers to be those moral authorities.

  7. Elliot,

    Your comment is appreciated. While not disagreeing with the essential content of your point, the danger of asking men to take control is that when they do, and its not to the satisfaction of the woman, they open themselves up to a storm of criticism. Many modern women aren't exactly demure and they'll let you know pretty quickly if they're not happy with your choices or leadership.

    So a guy takes charge, the women then says "Ok he's in the drivers seat, lets sit back to a degree for a while and see what he can do". If you do well they're happy, for a while, and then the expectations get higher. Potentially the more you do, in the sense of providing leadership or direction, the more they want and on etc. For the guy then to fall short, for almost any reason including perhaps not wanting to live his whole life revolving in one degree or the other around the women, then this is not just a disappointment for the girl but is almost treated like a breach of promise and a crime.

    Also you have to be fairly powerful to really take charge of a modern girl, you have be strong as well as diplomatic etc.

    Gez, it might be easier just to let her choose the coffee place.

  8. ""If she's serious about what she says, then I conclude she wants appropriately liberal government employees like teachers and social workers to be those moral authorities.""


    The left liberal mindset has almost complete faith in the social engineering skills of the state, if they see something they dislike in society then it MUST be because the state has insufficient power or resources to solve it.

    Any body or person who tries to take power away from the state is in their eyes immoral to the point of evil.

    Once you understand this mindset the actions and words of left liberals begin to make a strange sort of sense.

  9. Just let the Department of Hatcheries and Conditioning worry about it and pass me the Soma.