III. “A Patriarchy of the State:” “Conservatives” vs “Liberals” as Two Sides of the Same Antipatriarchal Coin
So does this all matter? Does it make any difference whatsoever? Is it even relevant anymore? Does it matter that our society devalues motherhood and traditional sexual values? Does it matter that original feminist ideology has traversed across all partisan party lines so that nobody ever even thinks to consider it anymore nor considers that it has any impact whatsoever on their lives or even sees it as relevant anymore? Does it matter that even “conservative” Christians have completely internalized its teachings? Does it matter that the bureaucratic state has overtaken all and that our civilization has been, for at least the last twenty to thirty years, inclining towards totalitarianism and complete polarization of political parties? It is surely no coincidence either that the acknowledgement of homosexuality as normal, the legalization of same-sex marriage, the cultural acquiescence in vulgarity, BDSM sexual relationships being perceived as the new norm, the astounding increase in female breadwinners and the strong emergence of a “men’s movement” out in the mainstream that persistently depicts men as the helpless and innocent victims of aggressive and manipulative females are all occurring simultaneously. And as for theorizing that we slide towards absolutism, this is not entirely without merit, nor is it unknown to our history. It appears that every anti-patriarchal movement has always been historically counteracted by extremist “conservative” backlash, whether in the form of absolutist prohibitions on abortion, birth control and “obscene” material (such as the Comstock and “little Comstock” laws in the late 19th and early 20th century as a backlash against early feminism) or the “red scares” that would routinely crop up during the early decades of the 20th century, leading to mass paranoia and the clamping down on freedom of speech and association, only to be tempered back down in the 1950s.
Michael Grossberg in his book Governing the Hearth, Law and the Family in Nineteenth Century America, details a drastic portrayal of what early “first-wave” feminism created in the form of increased state activism and the establishment of bureaucratic institutions that were supposed to “save” the family and promote the “best-interests” of children. He also documents the extremism in the way of the prohibitions on abortion, birth control and the eugenic movements for “racial purity” and “marital fitness.” At the end of the book he describes what he calls “a judicial patriarchy” that was the by-product of the early feminist movement:
Perhaps the most enduring product of the distinctive domestic-relations law hammered out in nineteenth-century America was the legal concept of the family as a collection of separate legal individuals rather than an organic part of the body politic. This occurred at the expense of traditional notions of paternal sovereignty and household legal unity. The older concept of the family, evident in the legal maxim ‘the husband and wife are one, and that one is the husband,” gradually declined as the distinct legal personalities of married women and their children developed. In an analysis of family governance in France, sociologist Jacques Donzelot has persuasively argued that ‘[f]amily patriarchalism was destroyed only at the cost of a patriarchy of the State.’ In republican America, the state’s new paternal authority was delegated to the bench; judges used their patriarchal powers to forge direct relationships between each family member and the state. These legal identities breached the home’s protective walls and vitiated its role as a buffer between the state and each occupant of the household. Grossberg, Governing the Hearth, at 304.
Carolyn Graglia in her book Domestic Tranquility, A Brief Against Feminism, describes the reality of the bureaucratic state (without which complete “equality” can neither be achieved nor sustained) which feminism and male-female fungibility/androgyny fostered by its devaluation of traditional femininity, masculinity, and its devaluation of the economically dependent housewife as a “childish parasite:”
A free market economy requires the energy and initiative of an individualist who is an entrepreneur who takes responsibility for his actions, is wiling to take charge and take chances, and has the courage to make his own decisions, acting if necessary, without the security of peer group approval. We once fearlessly described this person as a ‘real man’ (being aware, of course, that a woman can also fill the entrepreneurial role)… It is male individuality, exuberance, and aggressiveness that must be most stringently curbed and disciplined to meet the requirements of bureaucratic success…But for those of us who do not share this goal of equivalence [of the sexes], nothing is gained to compensate for the resulting erosion and distress of the family. The damage to our families, moreover, has weakened a major bulwark against totalitarianism and undermined the agency that is best able to produce children who will grow up to be independent and willing to take the risks required for entrepreneurial success within a free market economy. The products of communal child-rearing will more easily fit within the mold of tomorrow’s bureaucrats: risk-averse, conforming, non-individualists, well-suited to perform in a welfare-state bureaucracy. F. Carolyn Graglia, Domestic Tranquility, A Brief Against Feminism 280 (1998).
Though Domestic Tranquility may be the most heartfelt work of literature that is truly anti-feminist at its core, Graglia does still seem- in some respects at least- to disassociate post-1970s feminism from the feminism (dating back to early feminist campaigns for female suffrage) that came before. Every “wave” plays its role in totalitarianism and the bureaucratic state. Today’s “conservatives” champion so-called limited government and a free market economy but yet fail to bring the state of this nation’s families nor the demise of patriarchal authority into the conversation anywhere. Indeed, even members of the GOP know better than to “go there” where the issue of a woman’s paycheck or right to vote is concerned and even outspoken “anti-feminist” commentators are, in reality, mostly feminist-minded career women. They may decry its more extremist aspects- as well as they do pay lip service to the demise of the American family- but they never argue against its core tenants and principles or attack the foundations of the problem at its core.
“Conservatives” are against homosexuality but are they as well against “stay-at-home dads” (an unknown term only a generation ago), breadwinner mothers and the overall feminization of the nation’s men? I doubt it highly, even if they do pay lip-service to it. Both the acceptance of homosexuality (which “conservatives” reject) and the push to outlaw abortion (which “liberals” reject) are in reality two sides of the same anti-patriarchal coin. The acceptance of same-sex marriage falls in line with the overall gender-role reversal and feminizing of the nation’s men- which is at the heart of why our families are falling apart. We could also look here to the ancient world for precedent to put it all in perspective. While it is true that among the Greeks and the Romans, homosexuality itself was not illegal, any act of sodomy- consensual or otherwise- among two adult men was frowned upon as it ran counter to notions of mature masculinity. As Geoffrey R. Stone explains it in his book Sex and the Constitution: Sex, Religion, and Law from America’s Origins to the Twenty-First Century:
Same-sex conduct between adult males was generally frowned upon because it placed an adult man (rather than a youth) in a submissive role. To most Greeks, that seemed unnatural. It was the act of being penetrated, rather than the fact of same-sex sex, that troubled the Greeks. Moreover, the Greeks had little tolerance for effeminacy, which they ridiculed as incompatible with a man’s role as defender of the state. Geoffrey R. Sone, Sex and the Constitution: Sex, Religion, and Law from America’s Origins to the Twenty-First Century 8 (2017).
He goes on to explain the view of the Romans:
Neither Roman religion nor Roman law paid much attention to same-sex sex. As in classical Greece, however, there was a strong prejudice against submissive sexual behavior by adult males. The key distinction in Roman sexual culture was between those who penetrated and those who were penetrated, without regard to gender. An adult man who allowed himself to be penetrated endured muliebria pati, “a woman’s experience,” and was no longer considered a real man. The Latin word mollis (“soft”) was used to ridicule such men. The mollisincluded not only men who allowed themselves to be penetrated, but also those who curled their hair or used depilatories, lavish oils, and perfumes. But while effeminacy opened a man up to scorn, the general understanding was that it was neither unnatural nor inappropriate for a “real” man to penetrate boys and men, as well as girls and women. Stone, Sex and the Constitution, at 10 (cited supra).
Judges over the past two decades have consistently cited “gender-neutral laws,” the interchangeability of mother and father and the obsolescence of the two-parent traditional patriarchal (“nuclear”) family when striking down bans on same-sex marriage, culminating with the ultimate victory for “gender equality” at the Supreme Court in Obergefell v Hodges 576 U. S. ____ (2015). Unless the problem of our society’s consistent efforts to feminize men and masculinize women is attacked at its core (starting with our acceptance of male/female sameness and fungibility and our acceptance of the reversal of male and female roles) any efforts to fight homosexuality or restore family values will be futile. Similarly, the “pro-life” movement is based nearly exclusively around emotion, sentimentality and religious views about “life” without ever truly addressing what started the current fights and drama in the first place- feminism (ie., “gender equality” and male female fungibility, which “conservatives” acquiesce in as much as “liberals” do in all areas of life).