... women have the much harder row to hoe. Women are 95 percent of the equation responsible for the continuation of our species. There is not a man on the face of the planet that could handle the pain I witnessed from my wife during two of our three children ... Women are historically responsible for holding a household together, and in the unfortunate situation where the husband is unemployed and the wife has to work ... the man still does not help out. In my case my wife is the primary educator. My kids have attended a church school since middle school, so they have loads of homework. I have tried to help in the tutelage, but seem to either be unable because of patience or attention span, while my wife charges ahead when my head would explode ...
I personally believe the disparity in maturity between women and men is between 10-15 years at the age of 18, and with any luck starts to normalize somewhere in the 40’s ... This is the single most important difference between men and women. If it were not for this disparity there is nothing that would provide the patience required to tolerate, and in many cases train a man to be worthy of the marriage a woman so gracefully entered into ... To you ladies I tip my hat, not once, but every day in gratitude for all you do. You are the foundation upon which we all build our futures, and for that we (men & children) love and respect you.
Women might be from Venus, but men are from Uranus, and that’s a long way from Mars.
This is extraordinarily self-deprecating. We are supposed to accept that men are only 5% responsible for the continuation of the species. That no man could handle the pain of childbirth. That it is women who hold together the household. That men are too stupid and impatient to help with homework. That men aren't as mature as women until some time in our 40s. That we should consider women "graceful" for patiently training men to be worthy of them in marriage.
This pushes things in exactly the wrong direction. We need men who are conscious of their civilising role. We need men who are confident in their own abilities and strengths. We need men who will take up a leadership role in their families and communities, rather than abdicating their responsibilities in favour of a "superior" womanhood.
Why would a man speak about women in such a self-subordinating way? My own theory is that it has to do with a shift in the culture of relationships that occurred during the nineteenth century.
Up until the 1800s, the primary consideration in relationships was marriage. Of course, people still had sexual and romantic feelings. However, these were disciplined to the end of family formation.
However, during the 1800s the balance shifted. What mattered increasingly were romantic feelings. And, as I've written previously,
Men who grow up in a culture of romantic love will tend to idealise women and be focused on feminine beauty and goodness.
An example here might help. I've been reading The Moon Seems Upside Down, a collection of letters from an Australian soldier, Arthur Alan Mitchell, to his girlfriend Eileen during WWII. There's a lot to like about Mitchell. He was not at all your modern, alienated type. He had a love of nature, he appreciated literature, he loved his family, his country and his mates and, as you might expect of a young man of the time, he had a well-developed romantic nature. The letters are full of declarations of romantic love for his girlfriend at home:
One thing has not altered, Darling. That is my love for you ... You are outstandingly beautiful, Eileen, but it was not only because of your beauty that I fell madly in love with you, it was your character, your nature, your sweetness, kindness & consideration to me ... even now, away from the captivating spell of your eyes & hair & voice and laughter, I can, for those reasons, say 'I love you'.
Note the emphasis on feminine beauty and goodness. That is the ideal that inspired feelings of romantic love in Arthur Mitchell. It is the ideal that inspired a lot of Western art. It is a normal expression of "connectedness" in men. But it has a potential downside: women can become idealised to the point that men, in an intensely romantic culture, begin to defer morally to women (because the women are idealised into being morally good and pure). From another letter to Eileen:
Eileen, my Life, where my heart beats within yours, you are my guiding star. My inner soul has set you firmly on that high pedestal and forever looking up to you for guidance you have steered me from thousands of miles away, never letting me do an act for which I would be ashamed or regret later. If I possess any character, any manliness, my thoughts of chivalry for the weaker sex then I owe it to you, for you have carried on my spiritual guidance along the same path as my dear Mother led me.
As the sun burns eternally in the sky, so burns my love for you ... To walk upon the same earth, to breathe the same air, to look at the same sun & moon & stars, to exist during the same era as you live in is a joy & a privilege for which I am grateful.
It is the women in Arthur Mitchell's life who became his moral and spiritual guides. I can understand how this works: a man who recognises the feminine ideal in women can be inspired by it to pursue his own masculine ideal. But there's a catch: the more that men hand over the baton of moral guidance to women, the less likely it is that women will act in a way that inspires moral admiration.
Men need to keep a hold of that baton. We need to re-emphasise what men do to establish moral standards in society. Men should not morally defer, no matter how much we are inspired by a romantic ideal of feminine goodness. It was an historical error of the Victorians to defer and this created a vulnerability in Western culture.
When men do self-deprecate, when we do defer, it is a sign that the culture of relationships has become unbalanced, that the romantic instincts are not balanced by an awareness of what is required from men to maintain a successful system of marriage and family life.