Saturday, March 03, 2018

The solo mindset

How does a woman most fully develop herself? Traditionally it was thought that women (and men for that matter) developed and expressed important parts of themselves through relationships with others, especially through marriage and motherhood (or fatherhood).

But, as I pointed out in my last post, from at least the 1880s onwards, women were encouraged to see the family as a merely passive and mechanical sphere, with self-development occurring instead as a "solo" act outside the family.

I want to discuss the issue of what happens next. What happens when the mindset of a woman shifts to the idea that she will develop independently of relationships with others? That she is "proved" most in her independence, particularly her independence of men?

So let's go back to 1958. The long first wave of feminism had by now ended, and there had been an upturn in family formation. But the outlook of the first wave still existed, at least among certain women. A female psychologist of the time, Marie Robinson, described one of her patients (a female lawyer) as follows:
Her father had died when she was an infant and her mother had been a militant leader of the movement for women’s “rights.” The whole emphasis in her early upbringing had been on achievement in the male world, and in the male sense of the word. She had been taught to be competitive with men, to look upon them as basically inimical to women. Women were portrayed as an exploited and badly put upon minority class. Marriage, childbearing, and love were traps that placed one in the hands of the enemy, man, whose chief desire was to enslave woman. Her mother had profoundly inculcated in her the belief that women were to work in the market place at all cost, to be aggressive, to take love (a la Russe) where they found it, and to be tied down by nothing, no one; no more, as her mother put it, than a man is. Such a deļ¬nition of the normal had, of course, made her fearful of a real or deep or enduring relationship with a man. For years she sedulously avoided men entirely. Gradually, through her grown-up experiences, she learned of other values, but by the time the right man came along it was too late to have children.

This is at the more radical end of "be solo". Logically, it entails casual sexual relationships rather than marriage; a focus on work in the market place; and an assumption that men are not only after the same thing as the modern woman (not being tied down) but have an unfair privilege in being so.

To make this clearer, imagine you are a woman who holds to the more traditional view. Your very unfolding as a woman (your completion) depends on your relationship with a man and with the quality of the family life you create together with him. You are more likely to preserve your sexuality for this significant relationship; you are less likely to see your future spouse as belonging to an enemy class; you will be less likely to delay a commitment to marriage and family; and you will be more likely to retain some of the emotional openness and receptivity to men (and to children) that a woman's family relationships are built on.

But Anglo culture is lurching into the "go solo" zone. The primary commitment now is often to the workplace, even to the point that women's willingness to have children is compromised. There is a muteness when it comes to family values: it is not thought right to include fidelity as part of ethics. Political women nearly always assume that men are a class enemy; there is a solidarity among these women built on this assumption that comes across at times as a female chauvinism.

This might all sound negative, but there is a positive aspect to it. It provides at least part of the path back to a healthier situation. What needs to happen is for the liberal concept of the good (as maximum individual autonomy) to be rejected; for the natural instincts of young people to find fulfilment in pair bonding and family relationships to be nurtured; and for traditionalists to regain sufficient influence over the culture, at least in their own communities, so that culture is no longer set against the natural inclination of people to develop within relationships rather than solo.

In other words, I don't think it is just a matter of tweaking the law, or of a financial incentives policy - even though these might help. It's important to look at how people have been raised to understand their life purposes, and what the flow on effects of such a life understanding are. The current understanding has the strong support of culture & ideology, less so of nature (which is not to say that holding people to a culture of marriage can be done via natural instinct alone, but I do believe that it is stronger within our natures to have the instinct to develop within relationships rather than alone - this is what can most easily be restored).

Without competing for the culture, we will most likely continue to witness and to experience distorted or disordered relationships between the sexes.

1 comment:

  1. Well said. Your final point is the most pertinent, without competing for the culture nothing will change.