« profile & posts archive

This author has written 619 posts for Larvatus Prodeo.

Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

90 responses to “Reactionary role-yearning”

  1. Bring Back EP

    when it comes right down to it one of the most important parts of being a father is to ensure there is discipline.

    What is right and what is wrong and therefore the consequences thereof.

    Part, I do stress part, of the problem of divorced parents is that discipline can not be enforced.

  2. Zoe

    Because fathers enforce it with their penis , Homer? You’re nuts, dude.

    This is possibly the most idiotic comment of yours I have ever read.

  3. Bring Back EP

    well that was incisive repartee.

    It is the father who disciplines the children in the family.
    This is not only a traditional role it is still a current role given the research on the topic.

  4. tigtog

    I’m the disciplinarian in our family, Homer. My husband certainly does castigate the kids at times, but I’m the one who sets the standards and he abides by my decisions as to what they are and are not allowed. The kids are very aware of this.

    In my own upbringing, much as I love my Dad I’ve got to say that the occasions he went apeshit on us did little other than instil fear, and make us more sneaky. We took much more notice of him when he used withholding of privileges (eg grounding and allowance), and that was always at Mum’s insistence. It was my mother’s ongoing discipline of tying rewards to our behaviour that had the more lasting effect.

  5. Zoe

    Yep Homer, the way you favour just ain’t necessarily so.

    I’m interested to see some links to “the research on the topic”.

  6. Bring Back EP

    I did not say the father did it in every instance.

    They do it most of the time.

    liberals waxing lyrical about how to make kids behave and refusing to see reality that it doesn’t work overall in society.

    Schools have adopted your model and it has badly failed.

    Zoe even the Institute of Family studies still backs this role model of the father.

  7. derrida derider

    Homer, that is indeed a particularly dense comment that shows you need to do some thinking about this stuff, rather than just regurgitating what your pastor says or drawing solely from your personal experience. But then we all say stupid things sometimes because we all think stupid thoughts sometimes. If we were afraid of saying stupid things we wouldn’t blog.

    “Previously fathers were very close to their children” – La Lubu
    “It is the father who disciplines the child in the family” – Homer

    These are both incredibly culture-specific assertions – there is nothing “natural” about either the closeness or the disciplinary role. In fact both statements are empirically untrue for most societies, including (crucially) Western pre-industrial societies.

    You should avoid the delusion that late-Victorian middle-class domestic arrangements are somehow “natural” or the norm for most societies. It’s one thing to argue for the nuclear family, with Mum looking after children, church and kitchen and Dad earning the bread (and, if you’re Homer, beating the kids because Mum is too soft-hearted or soft-headed), on the grounds that God wants it this way, or that we’d all be happier. It’s quite another to assert that it’s the “normal” way which has only been disrupted by uppity women and pomo academics (if you’re conservative) or by the factory system and the alienation of labour (if you’re an old leftist).

  8. TimT

    It’s somewhat typical of a moralist to claim that ‘our standards of masculinity just aren’t the same as what they used to be’, as part of their argument that we should return to a simpler, more virtuous form of masculinity. Trouble is, those good old days probably had as many problems as the present day, and they would have had their own moralists talking about the ‘good old days’.

    And maybe there were historical periods where moral standards were better upheld, and it probably *would* be good to strive to emulate these periods. I just think the ‘good old days’ rhetoric is a little lazy.

    I also find a bit weird the argument that industrialisation is the villain that destroyed ‘traditional male archetypes’. I’m reading ‘How to be Idle’ at the moment – quite good, actually – but the author seems to blame industrialisation and the ‘work ethic’ as the cause of all the ills in the modern world.

  9. Bring Back EP

    DD, Unsure where the pastor thingy comes from nor where you get the beating up of children but I do admit it is a good pejoritive to use.

    I didn’t say it is was merely it is traditional for the father to be the one that disciplines the kiddies so that they know what is good and what is bad.
    liberals do not like that because they do not believe in good and bad after all it is all relative!

  10. Pavlov's Cat

    Tigtog, thanks for this — food for hours of thought. IIRC, the androgyny trope was a feature of second-wave feminist thought that had been derived from the famous Virgina Woolf passage about creativity and Shakespeare and the couple in the cab, and somehow, alas quite wrongly as you say, got appropriated by some people as a general feminist ideal.

    I think it’s a crying shame that discussion of this incredibly interesting and important topic should have been derailed at the outset by a particularly dopey bit of traditional dick-waving, complete with traditional conflation of opinion with fact.

    Naturally one can hardly believe it, of course, but for some mysterious reason this is what seems to happen every god-damned time any LPer puts up a post on any topic involving serious gender issues that deserve to be discussed intelligently. Talk about theory in action.

  11. TimT

    “Break their wills betimes … make them weep softly … do not spare the rod.” – John Wesley.

    Ah, the good old days!

  12. Don Quixote

    “What is right and what is wrong and therefore the consequences thereof.”

    Are you suggesting that women are somehow less capable of knowing these things? Or is it simply the man’s deep gruff voice that allows them to impart such notions with more efficacies?

    “They do it most of the time.”

    What a huge call. My mother was the disciplinarian in my family.

  13. tigtog

    Interesting that Homer states the most important paternal role is disciplinarian.

    What I remember most about my father is his dedication to sharing the big outdoors with us, spending time with us teaching us bushcraft and sports, helping us with homework etc. That dedication to sharing time with us is what fatherhood means to me, and is why even when he lost his temper I still loved him for the rest.

    derrida derider is correct that the “normal” family system is cultural and time specific. Although I agree with La Lubu that in pre-industrial Western societies fathers at least tended to be close by the family home, DD is correct that they probably weren’t more involved in childrearing due to the prevalence of extended families where childrearing, including discipline, was the province of all the female adults in a household and the older children supervising the younger ones. But at least the fathers tended to be close by, where the kids could see them working rather than it being a distant mystery.

  14. Lefty E

    I’ll grant you, fathers can be scarier when you’re a kid. I hope there’s more to this alleged traditional role than that. Im not interested in frightening my child.

    As for enforcing discipline generally – get real. That falls proportionately on whoever’s with the kid most. See previous parenitng post for general perceptions of that one.

    My daughter’s 2.5, and she’s alredy testing whether what one says holds for the other. That’s the main trick – just remember to agree on a line!

  15. TimT

    O, the trials and tribulations of traditional masculinity …

    Section Two is the part where we learn how to get men to do shit around the house, since Cameron tells us that men aren’t going to lift a finger unless you convince them that the situation desperately needs their unique masculine brilliance to solve a problem that you, as a woman nevereverever could. Never.

    By this time Steve was sitting at the kitchen table, eyeing me warily. I forged ahead, flipping on the light overhead. One of the bulbs had burned out. Aha!

    “Oh!” I cried, my voice a shocked, helpless mewl of distress. “Oh, help! Help! What shall I do! I flipped on the lightswitch, and the light didn’t go on! What has happened? I don’t understand! Steve, Steve! There is a problem that needs solving. Will you be in charge of of solving the problem??*****

    “The lightbulb?”

    “Oh, ha ha ha! Is that what the problem is? Gosh, I can help you with that! I love to be your helper! Let me get you a new lightbulb.”

    By this time he had snatched the magazine out of my hands and was skimming over it, mumbling, “Please tell me this is a joke. This is a joke, right?”

    The children, delighted by Mommy’s over the top melodrama, joined in and began shrieking, “Daddy, change the lightbulb! Change the lightbulb, Dad! Dad! Why haven’t you fixed the lightbulb! It’s broken Dad, you’ve got to fix it! Dad! Dad!!!!”

    They went on like that until he got up and changed the lightbulb to shut them up.

    So section two actually worked.

  16. Yobbo

    The lament of a generation of men raised by women:

    We are the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no great war, no great depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives.

    Or as Neitzshe said, men without chests. We lead the easiest lives of any men in the history of human civilisation. Most of us have nothing to struggle against, and maybe the sad fact is that we need struggle to feel necessary?

    After all, men are no longer required for the continual survival of the human species except as sperm donors. We’ve already killed off any predator that ever posed a threat to us.

    We aren’t required for war – women can fire a gun or fly a B-52 as well as a man can, and also give birth to children to boot.

    If a virus came along that killed off all men tomorrow, the human race would go on for millions of years without our further input, purely on the genetic material already available in sperm banks in the USA.

  17. tigtog

    I also find a bit weird the argument that industrialisation is the villain that destroyed ‘traditional male archetypes’.

    I don’t know that La Lubu (or others) necessarily argue that industrialistion is an emasculating villain. It seems valid to point out that social and family structures that had served pre-industrial societies well in terms of dividing up labour are not necessarily going to work so well in a post-industrial society.

    The roles of men and women in a society where women have more and more years of their life not tied to gestating and nursing children, and technology has minimised the importance of muscle strength, are naturally going to be different from a society that still has to prioritise roles based on who can best wield a weapon against the Orcs (to paraphrase someone I read recently).

    Traditionalists argue that feminism is the emasculating villain that has led to men and particularly fathers receiving less deference. Feminists and others point out that without the Orc-slaying less deference is owed, and that it’s industrialisation, not feminism, that led to the lack of Orcs on the horizon.

  18. TimT

    Okay then tigtog – my fault for not reading closely enough – these comments are being made at work, I’m not exactly reading in detail!

  19. tigtog

    TimT, you are totally forgiven for misreading (if in fact it wasn’t my lack of clarity that was to blame) because you linked to Flea’s post on the lighbulb changing.

    Pav, thanks for the reference to the second-wave androgyny start-off. I agree that a lot of people seem to ahve read more than was ever meant into some of those writers, and that it’s been a convenient strawman for others ever since.

  20. FaceLift

    LE is right. parents need to discuss the roles taken in all areas of parenting. Simple communication can save many problems.

    No two families are alike, so it’s hard to say exactly how discipline should be exacted, or by whom, but certainly parents, where there is more than one in the same home, need to spend as much time discussing their approach as possible, come to a positive agreement, and apply it with consistency. I didn’t say these things are easy, because we’re dealing with almost infinite combinations of personality and character,depending on the size of the family, and each day throws up new scenarios. The mistake is to atteempt to characterise god parenting in one particular way.

    Every parent has diffferent levels of sophistication, experience and ability. Every child needs a different approach. That’s the challenge and potential delight of parenting. We need to read as much as we can about the how to’s (because the community doesn’t seem to have thought of the potential value of parenting/family schools), and find out how seemingly successful parents are making it, but in the end every person that comes into this world needs a slightly different approach to the rest, so at best, what we know or learn should be guidelines rather than rigid rules.

    And, of course, no parenting is complete without the greatest asset and requirement of all, which is unconditional love, which includes the ability to show mercy, make level-headed decisions about correction and discipline, avoid discipline out of anger or frustration, and realise that what we live in front of our children is as vital a factor in their development as what we tell them. Not easy, of course, but worth working at, remebering we only get one shot at it with each child.

    I don’t think this is an historical, or a feminisim vs masculinism argument, which is a distraction, because our only opportunity is with this generation, now, and then our part, historically, is finished, and we become the old generation, so we’re better off ignoring the political aspects of parenting and making sure we give our children every opportunity to grow up as contented, functional, aspirational people.

  21. FaceLift

    I should have said, ‘The mistake is to attempt to characterise good parenting in one particular way’!

  22. tigtog

    Yobbo, I think your plaint is overly pessimistic regarding the so-called non-necessity for men. Sexual pair-bonding continues to be important, but just as the economic realities of the male-female labour division have changed in post-industrial societies, the domestic and emotional labour division of the sexual partnership is also in the process of changing.

    Sara Robinson commented in Amanda’s thread that what she sees is:

    a need for expressions of masculinity that honor and respect men, bind them to the culture, and yet don’t rely on the domination of women to do it

    The reactionary male-dominance=masculinity view seems largely tied to a fantasy view of past societies anyway: probably due at least in part to entertainments being addicted to portraying the lives of the affluent, where male primogeniture traditions meant they held the pursestrings and thus the dominance. The lives of the not-so-affluent have always required more flexibility and compromise.

  23. tigtog

    Good points, FaceLift. We often disagree on other matters, but I always value your parenting comments.

  24. Katz

    In the West, authoritarian patriarchy was insisted upon by religious injunction.

    In the West, authoritarian patriarchy was legitimised by marriage laws, divorce laws, laws of inheritance.

    In the West, authoritarian patriarchy was taught by every resource of popular culture.

    In the West, authoritarian patriarchy was underpinned by educational policies and practices and workplace regulations.

    Some of these engines of authoritarian patriarchy are at least 2000 years old. Some are little more than a century old.

    However, together they interlinked to create about as complete a total system of practice and belief as could be imagined.

    Let not men then in the pride of power, use the same arguments that tyrannic kings and venal ministers have used, and fallaciously assert that women ought to be subjected because she has always been so…. It is time to effect a revolution in female manners — time to restore to them their lost dignity…. It is time to separate unchangeable morals from local manners.

    Mary Wollstonecraft

    Beginning with Mary Wollstonecraft in 1792, these systems of belief and practice have been chipped away. Some have almost completely disappeared, such as inheritance laws. However, some are very persistent.

    The shadow of these systems of belief and practice are so invasive, it is almost impossible to state what inheres in the status of masculinity and what practices and expectations of men are prescriptions arising from old practices and ideologies.

    Some lament that the baby has been thrown out with the bathwater and plead for a return to some imagined Golden Age.

    Others urge a root-and-branch redefinition of masculinity, often without interrogating what they understand masculinity to mean.

    But here’s the problem. Wollstonecraft’s 1792 insights cannot be forgotten. One may try to live one’s life as if one were permanently living in 1791. But it won’t work. There is no getting around the root problem of the identity of masculinity. Finally it will be “time to separate unchangeable morals from local manners”

  25. Bring Back EP

    Naturally I do not disagree with Facelift although I do have a laugh at what people assume when one merely raises discipline.
    Without it you do not love your children at all.

  26. Andrew E

    Industrialization is what pulled fathers out of the home, away from their children. Previously, fathers were very close to their children, as you would expect—they were farmers, blacksmiths, tailors, etc. They worked in or close to their homes, and their children were present during the workday. Read some old folktales. Men used to be present in the lives of their children, and not just as the guy who came home with the bacon. He didn’t have to come home, for starters. He was already there.

    Macquarie Fields and other dysfunctional communities are full of unemployed men who are available to children and who impose harsh discipline. These men tend not to be effective role models.

    Modern men are more in touch with family life than men were even thirty years ago. A man is much more likely to attend the birth of his child today – the experience of middle-aged men in second marriages testifies to this time and again. It is possible to be a sensible and good person, even a Christian, and to regard LaLula and others as pifflemongers with little guidance to offer you, your family or anyone else.

    A man whose work and home are separate can leave his work-stresses behind in dealing with his family. Farmers provide one of the few examples of an occupation in modern Australia where home and work are conjoined: the stresses of their work are immediately obvious to children, leading to a situation where few farmers’ children wish to remain in a similar socio-economic context to their parents: so much for born-again medievalism. Shopkeepers occasionally live behind or above their shops, but in Australia they come from cultures that tend to be insulated from some of the sillier fads in parenting.

    I have really had a gutful of religious nuts who can’t handle the Enlightenment. The idea of people submitting to living in villages, being pig-ignorant and led by one-eyed twits like those quoted above or Ben16, and dying early through regular Wars, problematic childbirth or other causes that have now been “industrialised” out of harm’s way is a non-starter. Never mind the validity of “old folktales” as historical documents, five hundred years after the Renaissance this medieval dreaming should be stamped out with both feet. If these clowns are unable to adapt their creed to the realitioes of people’s lives, they have two choices: shut up, go away and think again; or get another creed.

  27. tigtog

    I agree discipline is essential, BBEP. It’s your argument that the father’s discipline has special powers that is what is being mocked.

  28. Alex

    Just to let you all know that this particular man isn’t represented by Homer’s idiocy. We parent our children as a team. There are obvious subtle differences in our styles, but no deliberate parental role differentiation.

    Great post by the way.

  29. Bring Back EP

    then you are mocking yourself.
    I merely said discipline was traditionally and still is mostly the Father’s job. Just for the record look at who mentioned belting children. You will see I didn’t.

    Apparently in these politically correct times that is not allowed

  30. derrida derider

    Homer, read the first sentence of your post again. That’s not what you said at all.

    Oh, and what Andrew E said. But also let me contradict myself a litle and claim there is still room in this world for some of the traditional male virtues – honour, courage and initiative. But just as men need to cultivate some of the traditional female virtues – empathy, articulateness and steadfastness – the world would be a better place if more women also cultivated those male virtues.

  31. Bring Back EP

    you are correct I said this in the second comment which is not inconsistent with the first one.

  32. Katz

    DD, how do you gender certain values?

    The fact that certain cultures have ascribed these values to one sex or another at a certain time in a certain context does not mean that these values are in fact inherent in male or female.

  33. FaceLift

    Actually, AndrewE, I think we have had more people, including men who were fathers, die in bigger, more world encompassing wars since the ‘enlightenment’!

    I think being a child 30 years ago could have actually been more fun, especially in rural environments, and certainly less technological and expensive. Today many families are divided into mum, dad and childcare centre workers, and see less of at least one parent than 30 years ago. We have yet to see the impact of child care centre developed children.

    And do you really think all those unemployed dads in Maquarie fields are such poor parents? I reckon you’d find a heap of dads there who are really loved by their kids.

  34. Mickle

    Beginning with Mary Wollstonecraft in 1792

    I kinda think it started further back than then. At the very least a couple decades earlier when Abigail Adams wrote:

    If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.

    I rather suspect that, like slavery in the US, there were always resistors to the patriarchy, and their sucesses, while limited, were not non-existant.

  35. Mickle

    Sorry for the rapid fire posts, I just have to note that, in fact, Mary Wollstonecraft may not only have been responding to tradition, but also to recent actions. For example, the founding fathers revoked the right of women to vote in all states but New Jersey just five years earlier. New Jersey revoked that right fifteen years later.

    In effect, they simply changed the wording from “people” to “men” – I’m not sure how many women were actually able to vote in states other than New Jersey, which originally not only used the word people, but referred to voters as “he or she.” However, it does seem clear that women did have the right to vote in New Jersey at least. That is, until public pressure denied them that right in 1807. (The sociologist in me notes that this was only five years before the War of 1812 – a time of civil unrest among white males.)

    It should also be noted that the UK passed the Suffrage Reform Act in 1832; until then women were not formally banned from voting. Needless to say, some of this was an increasingly indistrialized society making everything more formal, but it’s also interesting that western countries would begin to feel the need at this time to formalize something that they justified as being so obvious as to be undeniable. An illogical move along the lines of several laws passed by slave states in the decades leading up to the civil war.

    I wanted to mention all this because it’s helpful in understanding the suffrage movement not simply as an awakening, but also as a response to 1) government making societal norms legally binding and 2) reactionary moves by a ruling class that is losing power.

  36. tigtog

    A couple of other bloggers weigh in (post links updated above):
    Shakespeare’s Sister
    Echidne of the Snakes

    Echidne has quite a bit to say on Andrew E’s ideas on typical gender attributes.

  37. Katz

    Mary Wollstencraft wouldn’t have had a blind clue about Abigail Adams’s existence. Abigail Adams, as far as I know, never published anything in her life. Her voice was a private voice.

    Certainly Wollstencraft expanded on the rights of Man and Citizen, a revolution in thought that the framers had hardly considered. Ideas carry you to unpredictable places.

  38. Crowlie

    Katz, it goes back a lot further than Mary Wollstencraft. First century Christians including the Greco-Roman household codes at the expense of the new-found freedom of women and slaves in their circles was considered an unethical compromise with the powers that be.

    On discipline, the first discipline of any child comes from the mother. Ever seen a mother deal with a breast-feeding child with her/his first tooth?

    “Masculinity constructed as sexualized-violence and violent-sexuality is not some alpha-male genetic defect; it is not natural. It is an historically evolved reflection of a division of labor and a division of social power. The military — an organization within the state — simply took this construction into itself, and made itself in masculinity’s image.”

    In other words male violence and domination are not natural, neither are they “God given”. They’re part of a social construct. There’s way too many young men out there on the verge of killing themselves over questions of sexuality because of our cultural insistence in media, films etc that men are by nature brutal or they must be queer. The quote comes from here Written by a former special forces veteran and instructor, who now writes books about the lessons he learned.

    I would have no problem with parenting as a team, if I were part of a team. As it is, I’m a single mum and both my kids are just fine, thankyou very much.

  39. Katz

    The Christianity preached by St Paul was patriarchal to the bone.

    Wollstonecraft was the first public voice to repudiate millennia of patriarchy.

    What she wrote in 1792 was deeply shocking to everyone.

    There was not a single Christian at the time of publication who said, “Oh, that’s old hat. We’ve been into equality since the first century.” The suggestion is risible.

    And it ill-behooves the devotee of any Christian sect who claims that their faith encompasses anything approaching the enlightened radicalism of Mary Wollstonecraft.

  40. Bring Back EP

    how was it patriarchal Katz?
    This man who welcomed women into the full congregation.
    Have you ever read where women sat in the temple or synagogue?

  41. Katz

    You’re kidding me … surely?

    St Paul to the Corinthians:

    Let the women keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is a disgrace for a woman to speak in church.

    Now before you come back with a whole heap of post-feminist apologetics about this passage, let me forestall it by observing that for almost 2000 years, these injunctions were seen as unproblematic by every mainstream Christian denomination. And every one of them constructed their power structures and preached their sexual ethics based on endless glosses on this passage.

    It was holy writ when Mary Wollstonecraft blew a hole through it.

    That is why, belatedly, some denominations have done a rethink on this passage. Mary Wollstonecraft forced them to.

  42. Bring Back EP

    perhaps you and anyone else should have read verse 16 Katz.

    After all in the same book he says women can prophesy in church. Do they prophesy in silence?

  43. Katz

    But the point is, BBEP, no one else read it, especially thousands of theologians and Christian ethicists who applied their partiarchal stamp to everything they touched.

    Could that be the reason why every priest, pastor, vicar, chaplain, etc., until the late 20th century was male?

    Could it also help to explain why laws, customs, etc. etc., in the Christian West were deeply patriarchal?

  44. FaceLift

    Contrary to some of the ideas espoused over the years, the patriarch Paul lays down some solid guidelines for masculine and feminine behaviour within the family structure.

    The husband is told to love his own wife and to give himself for her, as Christ gave himself for the Church. Well, Christ sacrificed and surrendered his life to ensure that the Church/wife was as complete a ‘woman’ as she could be, so that she could be presented to him as a spotless and glorious bride in the sight of God. He gave himself to her cause before his own. And this is what the Christian wife is encourged to submit to, not to a bully, or a tyrant, but to a lover and a champion of her dreams.

    When it comes to taking the lead in the family husbands are supposed to do so under God with the interests of his own wife, and subsequently children, at heart, putting their interests and destiny first. It’s a serving leadership, not dominating. For Christ, leadership is always synonimous with servanthood, and taking responsibility. It costs. It’s a giving relationship, not taking.

    The wife is told to respect her husband, but not if he is treating her with disrespect or contempt.

  45. Katz

    Contrary to some of the ideas espoused over the years

    Almost my point precisely. In fact it was the universal Christian idea until Wollstonecraft forced Christians to reassess their own traditions.

  46. Greg

    Do remember that most of what we think we know about European culture was written by foreign invaders who saw only what they wanted to see, and by modern entertainers who usually want to see nothing more than eyeballs lined up for the advertiser.

    Our touching faith in either’s desire or ability to see truth is grossly misplaced.

  47. tigtog

    Greg, I’m sure you have a point there but I can’t tease out what it is.

    More links to discussion elsewhere (updated in the post body as well). The discussion here would be a lot more interesting if a few more of you read the articles I’m linking to.

    * One Big Jack Goff
    * More from Shakespeare’s Sister
    * The Peace Train
    * Coturnix links to an older post of his about how our attitudes towards sex, gender, marriage and hierarchy develop

  48. tigtog

    Briefly setting out some thoughts arising from the various other bloggers:
    * Sara Robinson did a good job of identifying a particularly toxic form of hypermasculinity which has a strong appeal to some men, particularly men who are feeling alienated by rapid technology-driven socioeconomic change from what they’ve been told is the traditional social standing owed to them.
    * She identified the scapegoat that some groups promoting a return to “traditional” masculinity have latched onto as a particularly threatening caricature of feminism.
    * where she loses me is when she appears to advocate that feminists need to tone down some strawman dogma of androgyny, and that we need to somehow be more nurturing of adult men looking for their own honourable non-toxic masculinity. The demand that women nurture adult men as well as their children is part of the gender-role problem. Women have been shouldering the bulk of emotional work, and this overloads women and cripples men. Women can and should be supportive of men working out new masculinity roles for themselves, we don’t need to mother men into it.

    * Despite my belief that feminism is not to blame, a large part of the hyper-masculine alienation does seem to be that women have expanded the accepted role of femininity to encompass more and more independence and competency areas that were traditionally regarded as a masculine purview. To many men still, masculinity is simply defined as not-feminine (and deriving social standing from not being the denigrated feminine), whereas women have redefined femininity as much more than simply not-masculine. Thus women are largely unthreatened by men crossing over into areas traditionally regarded as women’s work, but alienated men are threatened by movement in the other direction.

    * Other bloggers mention how feminism has largely been a response to the changing socioeconomic landscape, and thus women have been debating evolving roles of femininity since before the suffragettes but particularly since de Beauvoir and Friedan, and this can be offered up as a pattern that men might like to emulate, at least in part. This I can get behind. It seems obvious that masculinity needs to be socially redefined as more than just not-feminine, but men need to be the ones having the debate.

  49. derrida derider

    Katz, I spoke of “traditional virtues”, not “innate virtues”. Of course this gendering of the virtues is largely a social construct. Doesn’t change the fact that its a traditional one, nor that they are in fact virtues.

    That said, there is the important caveat that testosterone and oestrogen pushes behaviour in mammals in certain directions. But the whole point of having rational consciousness is that we can reflect on these tendencies and change the way they are expressed – for rational creatures biology need not be destiny. Better that young men express their testosterone-driven competitiveness and risk-taking displays on the sports field than on the battlefield or in their marriages.

    Of course you can’t reflect on them if you’re not aware of them, which is why I can’t understand the “progressive” aversion to reductionist biological approaches.

  50. tigtog

    The aversion is not so much to acknowledging biological predispositions, DD, as much as to the overimportance that seems to be placed on them. The whole history of civilisation is that of overcoming biological predispositions – why is it seen as suddenly so inherent and even immutable when it comes to matters of sex/gender?

  51. Katz

    Katz, I spoke of “traditional virtuesâ€?, not “innate virtuesâ€?.

    The distinction is an important one. I was incorrect to conflate the two.

    I agree with your comments about how difficult it is to know when one is speaking of tradition and when one is speaking of innateness.

    And I agree that hormonal influences cannot be discounted.

    You comments raise two interesting questions:

    1. To what extent may one say that male virtues (whether “traditional” or “innate”) may be said to be expressions of a male’s hormonal profile?

    2. To what extent may one say that male virtues (whether “traditional” or “innate”) may be said to be suppressions of a male’s hormonal profile?

  52. Crowlie

    Katz, the bits you’ve quoted from Paul include redaction, that is a bit that was added in later by a copyist, and a quote back to the people he was writing to. There wasn’t any punctuation in Biblical Greek and we have none of the originals other than a few bits and pieces. It’s frequently misread and misrepresented by those who’ve learned “puritan style” fundamentalist inerrancy, without ever really learning the tools to read the thing properly.

    If you have a look at ‘Romans’, among others, you’ll find that much of the early church leadership, until they got in bed with the Roman powers that be, were female. There’s also other traditions in the NT, like Revelation, that condemn such compromises with Rome. It’s like in the Hebrew Bible, there are different and conflicting traditions that we’re supposed to learn something from, not use to beat women and marginalised people up with. The whole white colonialist idea got its force from this same sort of mistranslation and misrepresentation.

    The parts in Ephesians and 1 Peter were also, as I said, a compromise with Greco-Roman household codes at the expense of the freedom of women… I don’t care if that makes much difference to what you believe, since it’s not my agenda to change your mind, it’s my purpose to show that this idea that male domination is “God given” is bullshit. Another construct of the patriarchy, and women who choose to practise Christianity as their own personal faith don’t have to wear that crap.

    So yeah, I’m gonna come up with a whole lot of Feminist apologetics to show that this idea the religious right are presenting about male dominance and violence being the natural order is part of Western tradition. Why that is any more valid a construct than my apologetics, I dunno. It’s certainly misrepresented and overstated in a lot of conservative churches today, that’s for sure.

    I feel like signing this “Lilith” 😉

  53. Kim

    What Crowlie said.


    Lilith :)

  54. tigtog

    Hugo Schwyzer, the Christian youth-leader (and gender-studies professor) blogger referred to in my original quote from Amanda’s post, has responded with his thoughts on guiding boys through adolescence to a broader vision of masculinity than just not-feminine. The discussion is not universally approving of how he goes about engaging boys in exploring this idea. [link].

    David Neiwert, who coblogs with Sara Robinson (whose post started off these interblog discussions), has a very interesting post on the history of misogyny in the West, particularly the way it grew in the Church during the Dark Ages. [link]

  55. Katz

    1700 years of misinterpretation and redaction have corrupted understanding of the New Testament. Well, what a tragic oversight.

    Trouble is, these corruptions have been woven into our culture.

    So yeah, I’m gonna come up with a whole lot of Feminist apologetics to show that this idea the religious right are presenting about male dominance and violence being the natural order is part of Western tradition. Why that is any more valid a construct than my apologetics, I dunno.

    Maybe all those scraps and punctuation-free jottings and all those deliberate redactions render futile any effort to gain wisdom from these texts. Therefore, why bother, especially when, as you admit, these writings have been turned into engines of oppression.

    Time we all grew up?

  56. Bring Back EP

    Crowlie is somewhat misleading additions do not alter what is being said.

    There is little evidence in Romans to see anyone in leadership positions.

    There is no male domination merely different roles.

    Facelift has already accurately described the role of the husband and that is scarcely domineering.

    God and Jesus were equals yet what did Jesus do?

  57. Katz

    God and Jesus were equals yet what did Jesus do?

    Let me guess. That answer is “Submit”, correct?

    So God says to women: “Submit to men.”

    I’m glad that’s been clarified.

  58. FaceLift

    So God says to women: “Submit to men.â€?

    No! He says, Wives, submit to your own husbands!” So what do they submit to? A husband who willingly gives himself for his wife, as Christ gave himself for the Church, that is, fully, and without the need for anything in return, and to work tirelessly bring the wife/church to a higher standing in the social structure, that of social equality, and the protection of the husband’s care, leadership and guidance, not as a dominating, forceful bully, but as a person who interacts and communes with the one he loves most on earth, which was exteremely advanced thinking in that era. In effect the husband is exhorted to bring himself into a place of submission to his wife’s needs through the application of agapé love, a new concept even then, since agapé is introduced by the teaching of the New Testament, and is a totally giving, unconditional love.

    If you read a few sentences ahead of the one which tells us that wives are to submit to their husbands, it tells Christians that we are all, men and women, to submit to one another, which is the act of communal social interaction, where we have all things in common, where we prefer one another, and where we stand up for one another, where we care for one another, where we are inclusive within the bounds of Christian standards and lifestyle teaching as laaid out under the new covenant, whihc has two basic commands, which fulfil all the Law and Prophets: agapé God, and agapé people.

    Sadly, you miss what is being said because you carelessly drag one sentence out of context or another there, and make it into your own erroneous doctrine of doubt. A common error.

  59. Bring Back EP

    Well said again Facelift. funny how husbands who are to serve their wives as Jesus served the church are domineering!

  60. Katz

    Gosh, with all that agape sloshing around Christendom, all those patriarchal laws and customs that characterised Western society seem so superfluous.

    And yet, punitively patriarchal laws were the universal Qestern experience until late in the 19th century.

    Doesn’t this seem a little odd?


    1. Why didn’t Christians, thoroughly imbued with St Paul’s preachments, apply these principles to their laws?

    2. Why didn’t any Christians protest against these laws?

    3. Why did Mary Wollstonecraft get such a bad rap from Christians when she challenged the morality of these laws?

  61. FDB

    “Doctrine of doubt”

    More a doctrine of reason, as I’m reading it.

    Doubt being a servant of reason, perhaps that’s a small distinction.

    Doubt and faith are opposed, but more in the sense of a cat and a dog who constantly niggle and taunt, chase and growl, scratch and bite each other.

    Reason takes faith and drowns it in a sack, then trains doubt to be useful.

  62. FaceLift


    Reason takes faith and drowns it in a sack, then trains doubt to be useful.

    Faith comes back to life and renders doubt pointless.

    Reason and doubt together create the doubleminded person who gets nothing for his/her efforts.

    Reason and doubt breed suspicion, blame the Christians for everything (Nero culture), believe what they see, wait to know that the horizon isn’t the end of the world before they embark on a voyage of discovery, stay planted on earth and complain about the weather.

    Reason and faith climb mountains, put men on the moon, discover new continents, open possibilities and challenge the status quo, invent flying machines, devise YouTube, see miracles and change lives.

    Katz, I can’t help the way people have interpreted or used scripture to justify their actions. All I can do, ifI’m a Christian, is read it and see what it says about the way I conduct myself in my home with my wife and children. It’s the same Word Christians have had since paul’s day. If they chose to read the wrong things into it, that’s their problem, but that doesn’t mean I have to follow that example, if it contrary to what is written.

    Can I help it if someone else drives at 70 in a 60 zone? We all see the same signs!

  63. Katz

    All I can do, ifI’m a Christian, is read it and see what it says about the way I conduct myself in my home with my wife and children. It’s the same Word Christians have had since paul’s day.

    So you admit that Christianity has been invoked to support oppression and that when this happened few Christians stood up to oppose it.

    You can learn some very bad habits from Christians.

  64. FaceLift

    Are you more interested, Katz, in winning a stoush than finding solutions? If so, that’s a bit of a waste and unproductive, considering you’re such a good thinker.

    I think there are times when perverted versions of ‘christianity’ have invoked oppression, although I’ll qualify that. In general Christianity has been invoked to do good, and has largely succeeded. But I’m not going to claim that Christianity, over 2,000 years, hasn’t got things wrong, but I won’t blame Jesus for it, or the New Testament writers. I’d lay the rsponsibility, if I had to, at the feet of those who either misunderstood, mistreeated or, worse, misused scripture. Don’t forget that for hundreds of years Christianity became compulsary under roman rulers, followed by a time when the Bible was kept from the people and they were lied to by leaders who claimed authority but used it for tbheir own political aims. They were not Christians. They were frauds. They misled, mistaught and misguided millions, and created a society which has corrupted the true intent and content of Christianity.

    I put it to you that most of those who ‘stood up’ to these authorities were silenced by death or imprisonment.

    So, yes, there were champions like Huss, Wycliffe and Tynedale who stood against these false teachers and did all they could to get the Bible to the ‘common’ people, so they could read it for themselves in their own language and discover what the truth is about everyday issues, which is why I can say to you today that I am responsible before God for the way I interpret and action the Word I read, because unlike them, I have access to it’s pages and meaning. I believe were still going through this particular reformation, and we’re some way from what God intends for His Church, but we’re getting closer.

  65. FaceLift

    Comment in moderation??

  66. Bring Back EP

    very moderate I’d say Facelift

  67. Max

    Fat Beer gutted hairy 50 something men often want mail order brides because of their compliant, submissive, servant natures, plus oral and other traits…

    They cant handle a strong woman and all it takes is 50 Bucks and a plane ticket to Thailand.

    Feminists are looking for the same traits in Men.

  68. FDB


    “Reason and doubt breed suspicion, blame the Christians for everything (Nero culture), believe what they see, wait to know that the horizon isn’t the end of the world before they embark on a voyage of discovery, stay planted on earth and complain about the weather.”

    Not when reason has doubt by the balls, as should be the nature of things. Only when doubt rules reason (are you reading this Silkworm?) do I see a problem. And still faith is not the solution.

    For me.

    You knock yourself out – if you live well and are nice to others, I couldn’t care less what you believe.

    Bear in mind though that it was DOUBT about the Earth being flat that led to your ‘voyages of discovery’, not FAITH that it was round. It is reason, not faith, which tells us that a rocket will fly, and only by doubting the success of a venture can we refine our processes and ensure that success. If you want to call rational belief faith, and prudent planning doubt, then you’re barking up the wrong tree.

  69. FaceLift

    Well, FDB, I don’t have a problem with the concept of doubt being helpful in some situations, in fact, I doubt that you’re entirely right, but I still have faith that you’re being reasonable!

  70. earl bockenfeld

    tigtag, I think you say Glenda’s post at Peacetrain about feminism. I posted a related article there today, Masculinity – whats wrong with our boys? I don’t know if it contributes much to feminism, but I feel it’s needs major attention in the Malehood section.

  71. Nabakov

    “Feminists are looking for the same traits in Men.”

    In my experience, they’re basically looking for someone who can get those big furry house spiders out of the bathtub.

    (An empty chip packet and the brushpan brush usually does the job. Then I leave the inhabited packet in the letterboxes of my noisest neighbours. Oh, we’re a happy bunch in our block of flats.)

  72. tigtog

    Thanks for commenting, Earl. After digging around on the peace train site I found the permalink to your post, so I’ll put the link here for interested readers.

    Masculinity – whats wrong with our boys? [link]

    By the way, earl, did you know your main page (linked to in your comment above), points to a domain parking site instead of pointing to you index page? You might want to talk to your webmaster about that.

  73. Katz

    Don’t forget that for hundreds of years Christianity became compulsary under roman rulers, followed by a time when the Bible was kept from the people and they were lied to by leaders who claimed authority but used it for tbheir own political aims. They were not Christians. They were frauds. They misled, mistaught and misguided millions, and created a society which has corrupted the true intent and content of Christianity.

    I take it, Facelift, that you are referring here to the Roman Catholic Chruch. Last time I looked, Roman Catholics comprised a majority of people who call themselves Christians.

    In your opinion, has the Church mended its wicked ways?

    If not, how do you insist that they stop misappropriating the title “Christian”?

  74. FaceLift

    It’s no secret that there was a period of RC history when it was in almost total control of the known world, led by militarist political rulers rather than spiritual Christian leaders, nepotism was common, dissenters were executed or forced to recant, and the Bible was kept from the common people. You can check that history. You know from their actions and doctrinal traditions it had nothing to do with the teachings of Christ, and was therefore, niot Christian.

    The council help by John XXIII did much to change things.

    The title ‘Christian’ can only be truly claimed by those who follow Christ acccording to the teachings of the New Testament. This means that denominational affiliation has little to do with whether a person is a true Christian. Church attendance isn’t necessarily a ticket to eternal life with God. Faith in Jesus is, but only according to the Way he gave us, not institutions, or tradition, or even christening, or wearing a cross, or dressing a certain way!

    Anyone can use the title ‘Christian’. It’s what a person believes that counts. if a group claims to be Christian, but abandons Christ’s teachings it can’t be truly Christian. Burning people at the stake, or torturing them for printing Bibles in their own language, or denying transubstantiation, or the worship of Mary, or denying purgatory ain’t Christian!

  75. earl bockenfeld

    Thanks, for letting me know that my type-ahead buffer was throwing in a bad URL.

    I want to thank for posting my link to this conversation, and for making the effort to be the link-master helping keep track of the discussion in all it’s forms.

    Male violence is a societal problem that women must be aware of, but I feel only older men can help young boys learn the lessons of how men can be strong without using intimidation, force, or violence to get what they want in relationships.

  76. oigal

    “I’m the disciplinarian in our family, Homer. My husband certainly does castigate the kids at times, but I’m the one who sets the standards and he abides by my decisions”

    As long as he knows his place then…Classic..Does he work in the US Postal service as well…the days gotta come..

  77. oigal

    Fat Beer gutted hairy 50 something men often want mail order brides because of their compliant, submissive, servant natures, plus oral and other traits…

    They cant handle a strong woman and all it takes is 50 Bucks and a plane ticket to Thailand.

    Gee, lets see racist, ignorant, inaccurate all in two paragraphs. Santimonous twaddle..

  78. FDB

    Ah, yes. Because if a man takes instruction from a woman, he’s sure to one day explode in a murderous rampage.


  79. oigal

    Your class is showing.. Late for work at the wharf again?

  80. Katz

    Burning people at the stake, or torturing them for printing Bibles in their own language, or denying transubstantiation, or the worship of Mary, or denying purgatory ain’t Christian!

    When Catholics claim that transubstantiation occurs, are they being true to Jesus?

  81. nasking

    Speaking from a male perspective…I reckon we should just climb out of the box that the media, parents & other authority figures construct for us…& just BE. Fear & the need to be accepted & trying to live up to cliche & unrealistic expectations often leads to the construction of BORING characters or outbursts of RAGE….or both.

    The most interesting men I know are diverse, flexible, well read, multi-talented or at least give most things a go…their curious…have a sense of humour…can admit mistakes & learn to forgive themselves (self-flagellation tends to make for weird personalities)…worry less about failure & more about experimenting & touching base w/ a variety of aspects/hobbies/views/theories in life…avoid comments like ‘i don’t suffer fools gladly’ & other obnoxious, arrogant, apathetic & wall constructing strategies…& actually both talk & listen…not just ‘yea mate’, ‘what’s that mate?’, ‘she’ll be right mate’….snore.

    And they’re REAL individuals…not compulsive about sticking to one group or hive mentality. Courageous w/ opinion but willing to see other POVs.

    And they try to communicate effectively w/ their partners & kids, empathise & compromise.

  82. FaceLift

    Katz, you judge!

    Becoming a Christian depends on faith in Jesus alone. When we accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour we are born of God, born of the Spirit. We have no need of any other means of receiving Christ, or His Spirit.

    We take communion to remember his death, and that he died on our behalf to take away the sins of the world. He does not literally need to enter the wafer, or the cup, since his sacrifice on the cross took care of sin once and for all. That is, for all people, for all time. That was his giving of his flesh and blood. That is what we believe in. That is the true communion, his side of the covenant, his life and his blood shed.

    If we say we bring Christ down into the wafer every time we have communion we are making faith in Christ alone as our means of salvation unnecessary. We also deny the work of the Holy Spirit, who has been sent into the earth.

    When he said we would eat his flesh and drink his blood he did not mean his literal flesh and blood would be brought down from heaven in the communion. He said, ‘It is the spirit that makes alive; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak unto you, are spirit, and life’.

    People were burned at the stake for saying these things, which was never the intention of Christ, and therefore burning them, or imprisoning them was an unchristian act. Even if people were wrong or disobedient to Christian ideals, we were never instructed to harm them physically, including false teachers or prophets. Heretics were to be given the chance to repent, otherwise to be treated as unbelievers, at the very worse ignored doctrinally without being completely ostracised, never to be tortured, imprisoned or murdered. Those who broke this code declared themselves unchristian.

  83. tigtog

    I missed oigal’s boorish stint this afternoon. What a shame.

    Sensible people might have realised that my husband and I have separate magisteria in our domestic partnership, some of which overlap more than others. One of my areas is setting the standards for the discipline of the children, and in that area he defers to my judgement. In other areas I defer to his.

    We all have different talents/expertise, after all.

  84. oigal

    Geez, Lighten up TigTog.. Your comment as a stand alone was a classic and had some guy written it you would have been all over him like a rash. Go back and read it but try with a smile on your face.. or not (but that would be telling)

    As for the other…If it saves a bex and lie down then you choose the langauge best suited to your position and strength of your discussion

  85. Another Kim

    Where’s the Devil Drink when he’s needed most?

    Or Nabakov, even.

  86. FaceLift

    What’s it to you, oigal, if the tigtogs have a shared parenting arrangement which is different to your concept? Or maybe you haven’t had the pleasure of parenting yet, so you don’t really know what’s the go. Mrs FaceLift has always been firmer that Mr FaceLift when it comes to our kid’s discipline, but our arrangement seems to have worked out OK. Sometimes it’s just down to personalities.

  87. oigal

    Nothing at all, couldn’t really care less how others raise their children, its their business..and Yes WE have, thanks for asking. I can also guarentee they don’t refer to people as Fucktards if they happen to disagree or find different thing amusing than others.

    I found a certain amount of amusement in the phrasing of the statement orginal statement itself (not who does what). It would appear that some take themselves way too serious here at times.

  88. Kim

    Nabs is probably enjoying a fine malt scotch.

    To ward off the daylight saving coming in tomorrow in enlightened states.

    Me, I’ve just come home from drinking Whisky Sours.

    Now I’m listening to the Blade Runner soundtrack…

    Blade Runner Blues…

  89. Kim

    And I’m having trouble pulling off the pumps I’m wearing…

    Damn shoes – love them but they hate you.

    Perhaps I should just go to bed…

  90. nasking

    Now I’m listening to the Blade Runner soundtrack…

    Blade Runner Blues…

    hmmm…one of my favourite soundtracks…lookin’ out on the sinkin’ sun…and then comes…