It was followed by this exchange:
Stacey seems to be pushing the idea that women should pursue their collective self-interests whilst men should also pursue women's collective self-interests. I replied:
And that's where feminism is at. There is an assumption, a remarkable assumption, that men in the past pursued their collective self-interests at the expense of women. So that it can now be justified as "equality" if the reverse is true and we have a society in which both sexes pursue the material self-interests of women.
This ideology helps to explain why there is so little gratitude for the sacrifices of men, past and present, within a feminist culture. How can there be gratitude when feminists assume that men did not make sacrifices, but instead acted out of a collective self-interest?
I think Stacey and other feminists are in for a shock. If feminists were to succeed in convincing people that the point of life is to pursue our self-interests, then relationships between men and women would degrade very quickly. Stacey is trying to circumvent this by requiring men to follow women's self-interests, rather than their own. But that just sets up an ideological tension. She is, in effect arguing:
1. The point in life is a pursuit of one's own material self-interests.
2. Men should pursue women's self-interests.
The second part of the argument contradicts the first. Therefore, it's not likely to hold in the longer term.
Stacey is wrong about Western culture. I've been reading Our Borders, Ourselves by the late Lawrence Auster. In the chapter "What is the West" Auster observes that "one of the characteristic features of Western culture is the drive toward self-transcendence". He elaborates by describing this as "the idea that man attains the true order of his being only by being united with a truth outside his own being." Auster complains that this aspect of Western culture has been undermined:
On the Left, the reduction of the human being to the power-seeking and resentful self not only denies the spirit but by doing so denies the balance of earthly and spiritual that is the essence of the West.
Young Western men have been drawn historically to family life for many reasons. Obviously the sex instinct played a part, as did a desire to have children and to fulfil masculine aspects of self related to being a father and husband. In the past, too, there was a social function to marriage, as sex roles were more differentiated than they are today. Men who wanted to preserve their own family and national traditions would also have sought out marriage.
But added to all this was the drive that Lawrence Auster describes. A man's love for a woman can, at its best, focus a man on a good outside of his own self that (hopefully) balances both the earthly (a flesh and blood woman/carnal desire) and the spiritual (the good of love/a transcendent sense of the feminine/mystery in the unity and drawing together and attraction of the masculine & feminine). This then can powerfully inspire a man toward sacrificial love and toward deeper loyalties and commitments.
But it only works if a man keeps the balance right (e.g. does not idolise & remains aware of human infirmities & works within the limits of human nature) and if women inspire this kind of love by embodying feminine virtue sufficiently.
And here's the thing. Whereas Western women were once raised toward habits of feminine virtue, they are now encouraged to rebel against it. Lawrence Auster writes about this in his book, in a section titled "The Rebellion against the Father":
In all its forms, the phenomenon we've been discussing represents the loss of authority in a father image. Symbolically, the father is the structuring source of our existence, whether we are speaking of male authority, of the law, of right and wrong, of our nation, of our heritage, of our civilization, of our biological nature, of our God. All these structuring principles of human life, in their different ways, are symbolically the father. The rebellion we've discussed is...a rebellion against the father. The belief that the universe is structured, intelligible, and fundamentally good, and that one can participate in this universe - this is the experience of having a father, which is the opposite of the experience of alienation that drives contemporary culture. (p.12)
We live in a culture shaped by intellectuals who have rebelled against the "structuring sources of our existence" and who prefer to stand, instead, within their own individual orbit, as beings defiantly organised by their own will and desires and choices alone.
There is an element of this mindset, it seems to me, in the aggressive way that some women promote abortion, or refigure their bodies with tattoos, or speak gracelessly or dress immodestly. The same kind of women will often hate male authority figures (commonly identified these days as old white men), but will believe at the same time in a diffuse, universal ethic of care. The latter is the go to version of morality because it is not a structuring principle of reality - it doesn't judge right or wrong and nor does it direct our loves and loyalties in any given direction (hence the apparent contradiction of leftist women hating conservative men with a passion whilst at the same time claiming universal benevolence).
Lawrence Auster wrote about the effect of feminism on men and women that,
All that's left to attract them to each other is their bodies, their bare utility, or their power, with the further result that...the love, sympathy, and friendship that used to prevail between men and women is reduced to jungle combat. (p.134)
You can see this in Stacey's feminism. Men exist for utility (serving women's purposes). What matters is a contest for power and material self-interest.
It's not difficult to predict that women will get far less out of men this way than under the old culture, in which men thought of marital love as one aspect of attaining "the true order of their being".
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.