Saturday, May 19, 2018

More feminist regret

Dr Taylor Burrowes is angry at the influence feminism has had on her life. She has a successful career as a family counselor and as something of a media personality (she anchors a news show and has done a Ted talk). However, she believes that feminism influenced her negatively when it came to relationships with men.

She posted the following as a Twitter thread, but I'm condensing it for readability:
A Dear Joan Letter to Feminism:

I’m mad that you took away my right to choose what I wanted as a woman...you took things too far when you pushed me out of my natural nurturing role & into a man’s world. The expectation to strive & succeed amongst men killed my femininity, thank you FEMINISM!

Why did you have to go & steal my hopes & dreams from me? You’re selfish & never cared enough about what I really wanted to even ask me first. Maybe I didn’t want to spend 18 years in post-grad school when I would’ve rather been prioritizing prospects for finding a good partner.

I would’ve never let you swindle me out of my prime years in the name of progress. I would’ve rather used my god-given gifts on what is truly important to me. My PhD can’t defend me in an attack or keep me safe from harm. It doesn’t even guarantee that I’ll be financially robust.

Sure, it’s impressive to other women in the game of competition, but what the hell are we competing for? Men don’t care that I have a PhD, in fact, it limits my options in the dating pool. It’s like height, I’m tall & average height men are mainly out of the market for me.

I can’t pair with a man beneath me, literally and figuratively. You forgot to discuss this temper tantrum you had decades ago with your older sister HYPERGAMY. If you had, she would have put you in your place a long time ago. But you had to go rogue and try to prove your point.

I just can’t believe I let you manipulate me into neglecting my feminine ideals & self-sabotaging to the point that I may have set myself up for being alone without any family of my own while I help other people find & keep their happy lives with their families.

I know somewhere along the way you thought you were right for doing what you did, but I need you to stop and reconsider things now. I can’t go back and redo my 20s or even go back to puberty and start my socialization over so that I understand male/female dynamics realistically.

My life may be irreversible now, and I’ll have to make peace with the consequences of what you did. But I know you’re still out there doing this to other people. I’m just asking you to stop for the sake of love and family values. Let women be women again.

And for goodness sake let men be men! If there’s anything I can say to appeal to your senses, this is it: thank you for showing me I am powerful & smart when I need to be. I will take that with me. It’s just not the whole story. I need to respect, honor & admire a partner.

This is what I needed to learn:

1. Men are awesome creatures when they are at their best & I need one in my life to love & keep me safe and ensure a healthy & happy home & life.

2. Find a man that inspires your whole being so that even when you disagree, you defer to his leadership.

3. There is no need to rebel against his leadership if I choose wisely. And when I do, know that “the ship has sailed” and we are on course for a lifetime of adventure together. We can strategize our teamwork to plan according to all the challenges at sea, but we must not waver.

4. Being feminine is everything. Denying our beauty is a sin on humanity. Embrace & celebrate your inner & outer sensual essence by being graceful, selective, kind, joyful, warm, loving & intuitive. You can do so without being weak or meek or insignificant.

5. I was put on this earth to love and to heal and to help and support someone, my someone! There is no progress without leadership, there is no leadership without followership, there is no home without a healthy system to guide & protect it and there is no love without a home.

Enough FEMINISM, you have done enough damage...You’ve proven your twisted point. If you carry on any further you are going to destroy life & love as we (used to) know it. Women will rule the world with subservient masses of weak men. Then what? Will you stop then?

Will you be happy when you look around at the mess you’ve created and smile? I don’t think so! I think you’ll wail like you’ve never felt sadness and despair before once you understand what you’ve “created.” The destruction will be catastrophic...it’s already begun.

But it’s not too late for our future even if it’s too late for some. So, I beg you FEMINISM: Enough! You’ve had your run, let go of the death grip and listen to your inner voice. I know you still have it. You don’t have to fight anymore. I’m sorry if you're hurt by my leaving.

But I’m done.

All the best,

The generations of women from who you squandered youth and the Divine Feminine for too long.
There is a genre of this kind of writing - of middle-aged women without families feeling dudded by feminism (which I hereby dub "feminist regret"). One of the earliest examples that I recall was written by an Australian journalist, Virginia Haussegger, back in 2002 - see here.

Dr Taylor Burrowes' letter is better than many I've read. I like the following aspects:

1. She recognises that men aren't very attracted to a woman's professional qualifications.

2. She recognises the reality of female hypergamy: that women feel attracted to men who they can look up to in some way. Therefore, both her height and her PhD limited the pool of men she might have successfully bonded with. She writes "I can’t pair with a man beneath me, literally and figuratively." This has implications for how society is organised - care has to be taken to ensure that men have the standing in society to attract their female peers.

3. She doesn't do the "men can't handle smart/strong women" shtick. She acknowledges that the problem was internal to her and that it would have helped if she had been brought up to better understand the male/female dynamic.

4. She does a good job in identifying the qualities that women might cultivate in themselves. She suggests that women aim to be "graceful, selective, kind, joyful, warm, loving & intuitive".

5. She is open and honest about needing a man to lead in the relationship. She associates a man leading and protecting with the creation of a loving home (leadership includes teamwork between man and woman).

Finally, I hope that the men reading this don't respond with a "white knight" instinct, because it is not what women like Dr Taylor Burrowes are looking for. She is not looking for a servant to uphold the feminine imperative, i.e. to do her bidding. She wants a masculine man who can more than hold his own in a relationship. Who she feels confident in deferring to for leadership. It is not a case of "rescue" but of being a man who can be relied on to make good decisions and to steer things in the right direction.

A note to Melbourne readers. If you are sympathetic to the ideas of this website, please visit the site of the Melbourne Traditionalists. It's important that traditionalists don't remain isolated from each other; our group provides a great opportunity for traditionalists to meet up and connect. Details at the website.

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Deakin story

I've now finished reading Judith Brett's biography of Alfred Deakin, an important father of Australian Federation, who set much of the national policy for the first four decades of the nation's history.

There's an important political lesson contained within the life of Deakin. Deakin was a progressive liberal, and yet there is much to admire about both the man and the impact he had on Australian politics.

The reason I can say this is that there is a disjunction between the political and religious principles held by Deakin, and the ancestral culture which he finely embodied. Deakin's liberalism (the political and religious principles) hadn't yet reached a point of overthrowing important aspects of the ancestral culture.

And this raises a significant issue about the way that politics has been framed in the West. For a traditionalist, the ancestral culture itself is the good to be conserved. Therefore, to be a conservative is a good thing, in the sense that you are upholding what is meaningful within human existence, regardless of the changing of fashions or technology over time. What a traditionalist ought to do, therefore, is to fit his religious and political worldview together with this defence of what is meaningful within his ancestral culture - so that it can be conserved.

Deakin didn't see it this way, and nor have most Western intellectuals. Deakin did very much value the ancestral culture, and thought of it as a core aspect of his life. But his religious and political principles were formed separately to it, being intellectually schematic and abstract.

He wanted to believe, as many intellectuals of the era did, that there was a divine purpose to the cosmos, in the sense that humanity was progressing to its ultimate, divinely appointed ends. Deakin was, in this sense, a "humanist" as he thought of humanity as a whole as the agent through which God's purposes would be fulfilled. Deakin therefore believed that as part of progress there would be a shift away from the parochial, toward higher unities and ultimately toward the global citizen.

Politics for Deakin was a means by which he could fulfil his own destiny in furthering God's plan for human progress. He would serve the ideal by engagement in progressive politics. Therefore, for Deakin, it was wrong to be conservative, because this meant obstructing progress and getting in the way of humanity advancing toward the ultimate purposes God intended for it.

And so the real goods that Deakin himself so finely embodied and which he had inherited from a more traditional culture, were left without an explicit defence. They were left undefended within Deakin's intellectual scheme or framework. Fortunately, however, Deakin hesitated before the precipice and did not abandon the identities and loyalties derived from his cultural inheritance. He brought these into the policy positions he developed for the newly formed Australia.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

The deepening

Sometimes you hear people say that we live in a post-industrial society. I'm not so sure. It seems to me that we are pushing toward a deeper - a more raw - stage of industrial society.

There was, of course, an intense stage of industrialisation in the 1800s. But at the same time there were efforts to at least contain its impact on society.

For instance, men were subject to the demands of industry during working hours. But often their wives and children were not. The family home was supposed to be a haven from the demands and values of the industrial world.

There was a deliberate effort, also, to establish garden suburbs. And, over time, working hours for men were reduced. As early as 1856, workers in Melbourne began to enjoy an eight hour working day.

There was a time too when "slow leisure pursuits" were popular. People read poetry, spent time in the garden, went on picnics, spent a day at the cricket or fishing at the river.

So, although industrialisation had a major effect on culture and society, there were still spaces in which the logic of industrial organisation didn't penetrate.

Great Britain became a world superpower, in part, because it was the first to industrialise. It's noteworthy that other self-disciplined and ambitious nations, such as Germany and Japan, recognised the need to modernise their economies along similar lines.

When you look at Japan, you see a somewhat different path. The Japanese did not mitigate industrialisation the same way the the British did, with garden suburbs or with leisure time. Their industrial cities were concrete jungles and their men were expected to be work warriors.

They did, however, for a period of time attempt to fuse certain more traditional values with industrialisation. It was thought masculine to be a successful work warrior and to support a family with long hours of work. It was also thought to be patriotic to contribute to building up the Japanese economy.

It's possible that this intense industrialisation explains some of Japan's social ills. Japan may not have committed to liberalism as deeply as the Anglosphere countries, but they did commit in a raw way to the industrial organisation of society. Does this help to explain some of the decline in the Japanese family even in the absence of a strong feminist movement? The failure of some young men to commit to society?

Here in Australia we seem to be following down the Japanese path in the sense that there is no longer the same effort to offset the effects of industrial organisation. Some observations:

1. The family is not as much a haven from work as it once was. The advice to women in the 1950s and 60s to prepare a comfortable and relaxing home for their husbands to return to work from is now mocked. With women increasingly at work themselves, men are now expected to keep working when at home. With a high rate of divorce, family is no longer the centre of stable values as a counterpoint to the world of work.

2. On a related note, now that many women are at work, it is harder for men to conceive their work role in terms of family or masculinity. For instance, a man who worked in an office could have once thought to himself that his efforts at work were not dedicated to "the office" but to his role as a husband and father supporting a family and creating a protected space for a culture of family life to flourish. Now, though, he is more likely to be drawn into a corporate culture, in which his efforts at work are connected directly to his corporate role and identity, rather than to something beyond them.

3. There is a trend for the more ambitious kind of young woman to give up on motherhood. Such women are already living a pressured lifestyle at work and find it difficult to imagine taking on the extra duties and responsibilities of raising children. And, more than this, the lifestyle associated with modern, urban, industrial society is one of long hours at work, followed by and justified by, certain trappings of the "good life" such as dining out, travel, designer clothes, shopping and so on - a lifestyle that would be cramped by motherhood. The dramatic drop in the birthrate seen in the "raw" industrial societies of Japan and Germany is likely to happen here as well,  especially among middle-class women.

4. There is the beginning of a trend for workplaces to act as de facto families. When I worked in Japan it was common for the entire staff to holiday together - that was how strong the work relationships were supposed to be. I haven't heard of this happening in Australia, but, with the decline of family, work is starting to be the main source of personal relationships for some people, and some businesses are beginning to take on a paternal role in staff well-being. A friend of mine has been applying for work recently and he told me how he was put off some workplaces because they struck him as being cult-like - as requiring a commitment that went beyond the professional and into the personal.

5. We are also following the Japanese path in building more congested urban spaces. The Japanese have a sense of themselves as lovers of nature, but modern life seems to have largely cancelled this out, and the same appears to be happening to Anglo culture.

6. The increase in leisure hours stalled in the 1970s. The picture here is not clear-cut, as work stress will depend on the circumstance of each family. In a family where both husband and wife are working-full time, as well as raising children, time pressure will be relatively high; on the other hand, there has been a rise in part-time work during this period. What seems generally true, though, is that people are less committed to leisure pursuits that bring them back to a more traditional pace of life that connects them to nature or to the arts (and, perhaps, to religion). Anglo society has moved closer to that fast paced, mass, urban culture that, unsurprisingly, was thought characteristic of life in Berlin during its period of industrial modernisation, and that was certainly part of Japanese culture when I lived there in the 1990s.

The larger point I am making in all this is that it may not be enough to challenge the liberal ideology that dominates the Western political classes. Even if this ideology was overthrown, traditional values would still be compromised within a society organised wholly along industrial lines.

If the individual is to be fitted to the most productive purposes within an industrial system, without limit, then not much will remain of a traditional culture. We do need to think through how best to respond to this problem.

Personally, I don't favour the nineteenth century approach of shielding women and children in the home, whilst subjecting men to industrialisation. Even if successful (i.e. in preserving family values as a counterpoint to an industrial culture), this only preserves the domestic aspect of life, at the expense of the larger civilisational commitments that men should ordinarily have.

I don't know if it's economically feasible, but I would prefer a dual system for men - to spend part of the week in an industrial role and another part in a "community" one set apart from both family and bread-winning responsibilities.

Another option would be to try to limit some of the unnecessary financial burdens in modern life (the high cost of housing, education and taxation) and to encourage men to achieve financial independence, allowing them a greater freedom to order their lives according to non-industrial criteria.

These are only musings at this stage, the important point being that you cannot curtail men's lives to the effort to survive within an industrial workplace and then expect the resulting culture to be imbued with traditionalist values relating to the distinct role of a father within a family, or to a man's role in leading his community or in contributing to his larger tradition.