Saturday, September 16, 2017

Why can't male sacrifice be acknowledged?

I was in a classroom with some senior students discussing the topic of relationships when I made the, to my mind, innocent comment that "men make sacrifices on behalf of their wife and children." It prompted a spontaneous, incredulous outcry from the girls "No, they don't!"

I tried to explain that a man spending most of his time and energy going out to work to provide for his family represented a sacrifice. My explanation didn't go down well. Some of the students just wanted to acknowledge female sacrifice. Others looked gloomy and upset and the word "sexism" was heard. I had clearly said something that I wasn't supposed to say.

So why can't we acknowledge male sacrifice on behalf of women and family?

One possible explanation is that it doesn't fit in with current liberal political beliefs. Liberals see society as made up of unique individuals in pursuit of their own self-interest or their own subjective goods. So perhaps if you are a young liberal woman who believes in the pursuit of your own individual goods, it is discomfiting to acknowledge that someone may be sacrificing on your behalf. Also, if liberals do act for a more universal good it is for a certain liberal understanding of "equality," but the liberal assumption is that if inequality exists it is because men get to choose to do what they want at the expense of others. So the idea of male sacrifice doesn't fit well with this liberal outlook.

But I don't think that these aspects of liberal politics really explain the situation. I personally have heard a woman say that male efforts at work to provide for a family count for nothing "because that is just what men are supposed to do."

And I am not the only one who has come across this attitude. Rollo Tomassi has written a post titled "Appreciation" which includes the following:
I think what most men uniquely deceive themselves of is that they will ultimately be appreciated by women for their sacrifices. Learn this now, you won't. You can’t be because women fundamentally lack the ability to fully realize, much less appreciate the sacrifices a man makes to facilitate her reality. Even the most enlightened, appreciative woman you know still operates in a feminine-centric reality. Men making the personal sacrifices necessary to honor, respect and love her are commonplace. You’re supposed to do those things. You sacrificed your ambitions and potential to provide her with a better life? You were supposed to. You resisted temptation and didn’t cheat on your wife with the hot secretary who was DTF and ready to go? You were supposed to. Your responsibilities to maintaining a marriage, a home, your family, etc. are common – they’re expected. They are only appreciated in their absence.

This is the totality of the feminine-centric reality. Men only exist to facilitate the feminine reality, and any man who disputes this (or even analyzes its aspects) is therefore not a ‘man’. It just IS.

I should note that Rollo Tomassi begins his post by describing what a good marriage looks like - he is no more anti-marriage than I am. But I think he is correct not only in his observation about the difficulty women have in appreciating male sacrifice, but also in his explanation of why this exists - that it relates to women's ingrained expectation that men exist to "facilitate feminine reality" - i.e. the "feminine imperative" is so strong that women unthinkingly see men as existing to uphold feminine reality (and if they do not, or if they even question it, they are simply not "real men").

If this is so it is ultimately damaging. It is demoralising to men to think that none of their efforts will ever truly be appreciated, that their sacrifices count for nothing in the minds of women.

So what is to be done? I'm not sure to be honest, but I can throw out some ideas.

First, there is the alpha option. Women do go for the kind of man who has the drive to pursue things on his own terms and who draws others into his slipstream (I think the expression is that he invites a woman along for the ride). It is possible, in other words, for men to have a change in mindset, in which they develop their own masculine powers and virtues, as an accomplishment that has its own rewards and its own meaning in terms of a life telos, with the appeal of this to women being more of a follow-on outcome.

Second, the feminine imperative doesn't have to be as strong in society as it has become. There were once institutions that weren't dedicated to this imperative to the degree they now are. There were also clubs and fraternal organisations for men - male spaces - so that the role that the feminine imperative dictates for men wasn't necessarily as total as it is today.

If I could order society better, I would not tie up men's lives in the service of women as much as they are now. Realistically, the breadwinning role would still take up most of men's time and energy. But we could aim to free up as much time as possible for men to undertake a more public oriented role, alongside other men, designed to allow men to develop intellectually, spiritually and creatively, and to enjoy the esprit de corps, the fellowship, that comes from working alongside other men to contribute to the wider community and culture.


  1. Thanks for this. This is a big part of why my own marriage failed - I didn't understand that my wife was simply incapable of valuing the sacrifices I made for her and for our family. She didn't even get angry when I brought this up, she just got this puzzled uncomprehending look. In her universe I had natural obligations to her, not only did she not have reciprocal obligations to me, I got no credit for what I did - it was just "what's supposed to happen". I can understand the Mens' Rights people better now, but they tend to look at it from the wrong angle I think. People need to appreciate reciprocal duties and value mens' sacrifices. The churches no longer teach this; American Country and Western music is the only mainstream place I ever hear this position advocated (not sure about current C&W, but at least until recently).

    1. she just got this puzzled uncomprehending look

      Yes, it is a moment of mutual incomprehension (that drains the blood from the face if you are the man).

      I agree that it would be helpful if the reality that men do make sacrifices was taught in society. Church is one obvious place - it could be an expression of gratitude in a prayer, for instance, (I attended mass on Father's Day at a relatively traditional parish here in Melbourne and was impressed by how well this was done.)

      I agree with you too that some women do not have a sense of reciprocal obligations in marriage, that they think of it only in terms of the man doing things for them and can even become upset at the idea of mutuality. Again, it can't be assumed that mutuality will just be understood, it needs to be explicitly taught.

    2. We got married in the USA and were given some American religious guidance material from the minister (reverend?) who married us. I glanced through it later, and I noticed it seemed entirely about a man's obligations to his wife, with no notion at all of a woman's obligations to her husband. This was written by Christian men.
      You have written about this before I think - that the modern situation dates back to Victorian-era pedestalisation of women. An idea that women are so much better than men that they don't need to be taught to be good. That men are rough beasts, women are china dolls.
      It turns out that both men and women need to be taught to be good.

  2. There's a lot going on with this behaviour. I know it personally.

    One of the other aspects to this is the the desire to self actualize through career. If the husband works and the wife cares for a child, the husband is seen as the one with the privilege of working towards real goals. He attains wealth and status while the wife is 'burdened' with childcare (unpaid labour)

    Women who see their identity as being fundamentally wrapped up in their personal career will never recognize their husbands sacrifice for what it is.

    The feminine-centric aspect is also evident in the constant moaning about average earnings. That a large portion of men's earnings will be used to directly support women and children, including girls, means little to nothing in the general melee of mainstream debate. Again, men never lose out by working long hours at jobs they don't much like. They earn more and that's unfair, period.

  3. It starts well before marriage. Everyone encourages the groom to "make her happy," and he is supposed to assure her parents that he'll do so. No mention of his happiness. Sometimes I wonder if "happiness" isn't really a woman thing after all, something women feel entitled to. Men (unless they've been totally emasculated/feminized) idealize responsibility and accomplishment, and if anything a sense of satisfaction that comes from having performed well (something very different from the passivity of "happiness").
    But men do need some hints of gratitude from those they sacrifice for in order to feel this satisfaction.

  4. Mr. Richardson

    I also think one of the problems is that this is probably the first time in their life that they have heard such a thing. I remember when I was growing up it was not unusual for women to say how grateful they were to their husband for all the work he did, I even saw it on tv. But I have not heard such a sentiment in quite some time.

    I also think of spoken and unspoken assumptions within Feminism. The spoken assumption is that women can do as they want. The unspoken assumption is that men will not change. If men did as women were now expected to do society would collapse.

    Mark Moncrieff
    Upon Hope Blog - A Traditional Conservative Future

    1. Yeah. Most of my students are Muslim & Hindu from working class backgrounds, I think if I said ""men make sacrifices on behalf of their wife and children" they would not freak out (they might ask how it related to the subject being taught, would they be graded on this...) I think the disease is worst by far in the indigenous/white middle class.

    2. Most of my students are Muslim & Hindu from working class backgrounds

      Similar experience here. The girls from second world backgrounds (Christian and Muslim) thought it important that wives support their husbands. Some of the local girls had shocking ideas ("I am lazy, my future husband should do everything for me.") I find it reassuring, though, that culture can potentially have a positive effect.

      I did a follow up and asked some female colleagues whether they thought their husbands made sacrifices for their family. The result was something like this:

      Me: Do you think your husband makes sacrifices for you and the children?
      Female colleague: I make sacrifices for the family.
      Me: I'm not asking about you, but about whether you think your husband makes sacrifices for the family.
      Female colleague: I make sacrifices for the family.
      Me: This isn't about you, but about your husband.
      Female colleague: Tell me what sacrifices my husband might make for the family.
      Me: Spend his time and energy at work to earn money for the family; contribute to the work at home; patiently deal with the issues that occur within the family.
      Female colleague: I make those sacrifices for the family.
      Me: I'm not asking about you.

      I failed to get an acknowledgement. The younger unmarried women looked on silently, the other married men ducked for cover as if they were in a danger zone.

    3. It's quite scary. My impression is that

      A) The wiser married women I know, know darn well that their husbands make huge sacrifices for them, but don't talk about it - THEY would be attacked by Feminists if they did so, and would lose social status. They may talk Feminist but they act Traditionalist. These women have successful marriages, but...

      B) The less wise ones (like my ex) don't think about it at all, they assume it's natural that all good things flow to them. They have never been educated to appreciate and value the male role. They have no or failed marriages, are unhappy, and inflict that unhappiness on those around them.

      My fear is that with no cultural transmission of values, over time type Bs tend to predominate, except among the very solid upper-middle and upper class.

  5. Having spent the last week acting as my husband's 'right hand man' as he does some renos on our house - he is a construction tradie - I now have a far better appreciation of how hard he works and why he invariably falls asleep on the sofa after tea (or even before). And also of the sacrifices he has made in terms of his health, to provide for his family. Not that I wasn't aware of this before, but as we get older, it is easier to see the toll his career has taken on him.

  6. The reaction of distress is because recognition of men's sacrifices would demand accountability and gratitude from women. What you can take for granted, you don't see. Now imagine the distress for females if they could NOT take it for granted!!!

    Furthermore it would undermine the assumption that women are independent and 'accomplishing things only from their own efforts'

    The recognition of this is also psychologically disturbing because it clearly implies, especially to a security oriented female, that there are benefits she is receiving that can be taken away, cannot be taken for granted, and could place demands on her out of her control if the sacrifices stopped.

    This is why, as in the past, it so important that men gain control over their families not just morally but legally again. So that, as is usually the case, when men make sacrifices and pursue their interests (one of which is seeing their families prosper as they wish), that they will be control and benefit from those sacrifices.

    That women are blind to these sacrifices and men's interest is EXACTLY why this legal and moral control is necessary, and needs to return for a strong West. YOu can call it 'patriarchy' if you want.

    Every women marries a man superior to herself: that's WHY she marries him!!!

    But there must be something beyond biology (which won't suffice) to keep women accountable for men's sacrifices and importance to them.

    This is a great essay on the issue: Rotating Polyandry—& its Enforcers

  7. I was a wedding photographer for 3 decades and I saw it over and over again. They, the unmarried couples, were always happy when they came in, always, then one of two things happened. Either a dismissive simmering contempt from the wife and a bewildered subdued husband or alternatively a quiet admiration for the husband who then looked pretty happy. In the first case, the contemptuous one, the husband was usually placating but nothing seemed to move the wife's dislike. When you're a photographer you see the family grow because you do the family portraits after the wedding so I saw a lot and I concluded that if a wife gets into the habit of disapproval of the husband as a lifestyle choice an incrementally increasing misery is established. For years I thought that men must have equal responsibility for the misery but in the end I think it's unilateral, the woman's attitude creates the situation. If she admires the man they'll be happy, if she doesn't admire the man they'll be unhappy and you can be sure I've warned my daughters about the consequences of politeness and kindness.

    1. I agree with this.
      I have seen what seemed like pretty mediocre men grow and flourish under the admiration of a good wife.
      And pretty decent men shrivel under a bad wife.

  8. It all goes back to the garden of Eden. Ungratefulness or covetousness is ultimately directed at God channeled through the husband. Being ungrateful for the situation God give one is exceptionally dangerous.

    Camille Paglia has spoken about how necessary men are and how terrible it is to take them for granted.

    Feminism is a form of postmodern thought. It was sold as being liberating for everyone. men included. Thus, since feminism is assumed to benefit men, there is no need to thank them. They would seriously argue that you should thank them. In fact they have.

    1. The lead character in The Fall, a TV series, is a hard-core feminist chief homicide investigator. She's unmarried around 50 ish. She selects men by sight to have sex with. They love it and she treats them like objects.
      At one point a whining male superior who she once "f*****d", comes to her hotel room drunk and pleads for sex with her "just one more time". He's pleading, nearly in tears . She punches him and sits him down like a little boy.
      He looks up at her and asks: "Why are women spiritually and emotionally so much stronger than men?"
      She looks away with disdain, and existentially bored answers: "Males are a birth defect."
      He's still staring at her blankly. She might as well crush him like the insect that he portrays.
      More women believe, because they're being taught; that we are all female at birth, that the default human is always a female, that males are birth defects that are somehow temporarily permitted, as needed, but only for now. Many females act as if it is by their grace that men are allowed to exist, that someday soon females will be able to override the chromosome anomaly, which like masculinity, is simply a big pain in the ass.
      They have it backasswards, of course. Males are supra-structures built on the incomplete female scaffold, something that forever irks the hard-core.
      I don't actually see it like that, and I'd be hard pressed to say it like that to any but the most hard-core, recalcitrant feminist. There is plenty more to it, most of it they've got wrong.