Conclusion: I Stand By My Cause (The Ethos of Civilization, Part VII)

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VII: Conclusion: I Stand By My Cause

 

When Anthony Comstock was sent to Washington in 1872, he succeeded “beyond his wildest expectations” in getting his initial obscenity law passed:

 The bill passed with little debate and became law on 1 March 1873. Its swift enactment may indicate the difficulties of defending practices so at odds with popular values. Resistance would come in the law’s implementation, not its passage…The passage of the Comstock legislation with little debate reflects the delicacy of the subject as well as a broad acquiescence in, if not approval of, banning obscenities of all sorts. Grossberg, Governing the Hearth at 176, 188 (cited supra).

It was easy to ban obscenity of all sorts as well as abortion and birth control in an era whenever Americans were basically “on the same page” where family values and morality were concerned. But Americans are not all on the same page today where family values or issues of morality are concerned, with “conservatives” oftentimes being the biggest offenders of all when it comes to obscenity and standards of decency. Before the 1960s there was only one predominate family pattern, and that was the two-parent family consisting of a married mother and father with their legitimate children. But there is no such stability in families today, and in the last fifteen years in particular virtually all restraints on obscenity have been washed away in the media and elsewhere in society. Restraints upon the bearing of illegitimate children (we’re not supposed to notice such things anymore) and wives/mothers in the workforce are non-existent and there are no longer any laws against engaging in homosexual acts (they are now deemed “unconstitutional” see Lawrence v. Texas 539 U.S. 558 (2003) (holding unconstitutional state laws criminalizing consensual homosexual sodomy)) and pornography and degeneracy of all sorts proliferate through society. One would be hard-pressed today to find a true “traditional” patriarchal family in an era where “anything goes” and family can mean “anything” and marriage is an all but obsolete institution that is generally entered into only by the upper classes.

How can “conservatives” reconcile their anti-abortion and anti-homosexual biases with their own acceptance of feminism and modern lifestyles where even “conservatives” are militant about careers for their daughters, accept illegitimacy and otherwise themselves have little respect for conventional mores?

It is hard to completely explain my meaning here, especially to readers who may not be well versed in law and history or having studied these subjects in any depth, but perhaps all I am trying to say here is that “conservatives” can’t have it both ways. They can’t pretend to be “anti-feminist” when they themselves have internalized and accepted all of its basic concepts and absorbed its teachings. “Conservative” women, in particular, can’t claim to be “anti-feminist” while at the same time taking multiple husbands, having multiple sex partners, joining the workforce full time, and being OK with women in military combat (and shame on the “conservative,” “pro-life” males who would endorse such a thing). “Conservatives”, in particular, can’t pay lip service to the “unborn child” without also acknowledging (and making it part of their official policy goals to acknowledge) the preciousness and inherent weakness of women. The rejection of patriarchy meant the entire rending asunder of the social fabric to split society into two opposing and warring camps. And how can this be resolved? Before the 1970s, political disputes at the federal level mainly concentrated around the allocation of power between the federal government and the states, centering largely on purely economic issues. But now Americans are fighting wide-scale nearly to the death over the private and personal in the federal arena; fighting in the mainstream over private issues that wouldn’t have even been spoken aloud sixty years ago. The personal has become political even amongst those who fail to fully understand the “issues” that they are screaming about. Americans are not united anymore where issues of family, religion or morality are concerned. Even if the Supreme Court were to strike down Roe or Obergefell tomorrow, it is not likely to bring about any significant changes, and the states will only continue to be ongoing battlegrounds for abortion and gender politics.

In conclusion, this article is not meant to be an entire examination of the foregoing “issues” or to examine the entire subject of the modern political scene or gender relations in depth. Such a feat would be a massive undertaking far beyond the scope of even the most lengthy article. But I do not write this without offering a solution or pleading a legitimate cause. In my last article, The Guardianship of a Woman, https://whatswrongwithequalrights.files.wordpress.com/2018/12/the-guardianship-of-a-woman-final-edit6.pdf I pleaded the cause for family, patriarchy, and the protection of women and children and I do continue to stand by that cause.

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Patriarchy in Antiquity: Putting It All in Perspective (The Ethos of Civilization, Part VI)

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VI. Patriarchy in Antiquity: Putting It All in Perspective

 

It is a very common thing for modern society to look at third-world countries that oppress women, call them “patriarchies,” and then assume somehow that women in the West have ever lived under such conditions pre-feminism. But the fact still remains that these countries aren’t so much “patriarchal” as they are male “supremacist” (and this latter observation could certainly be disputed, but it is not my intention to dwell upon it at present). Contrary to the conditions in true patriarchal societies, male “supremacist” societies are generally characterized by a third-world existence, replete with widespread poverty, political and religious intolerance, and few- if any- civil rights for all citizens (male or female). They are also typically quite subject to lawlessness, rendering them dangerous places for foreigners to even visit and oftentimes making it dangerous for even native females to go many places alone.

Patriarchal societies in the West have never resembled their uncivilized counterparts in the East. Western men may dream of harems and other visions common in the stereotypical male fantasy whenever the word “patriarchy” crops up and mainstream society at large probably has in mind such horrors as female genital mutilation (FGM), “honor killings” and young brides being murdered for their dowries. But such “patriarchal” visions run counter to the true history of patriarchal societies as are found in such civilizations as Ancient Greece, Rome, and traditional English and Anglo-Saxon law.

As far as polygamy is concerned, it was frowned upon by the Romans and the Greeks alike- and the laws of England never allowed it. Among the Romans it was held that a man who held himself out as unmarried in order to take a second wife could be charged with criminal debauchery (stuprum) and that, “Official disgrace (infamia) undoubtedly attends a man who has two wives.” Bruce W. Frier & Thomas A.J. McGinn, A Casebook on Roman Family Law 38 (2004) (Translating the emperors Valerian and Gallienus in 258 A.D.). And despite the general acceptance of a sexual “double standard” among the Greeks, marriage was still considered (with a brief exception- debatable among scholars- arising during the hardships of the Peloponnesian War) to be a monogamous institution:

…Sophocles’ striking use of marriage terminology in reference to Deianeira and Iole may in fact show that despite the relative sexual freedom of Greek men (and especially Herakles), marriage was quite clearly and unambiguously understood in Athens to be properly a singular relation which linked (or yoked) two people, one husband and one wife. The relation was not symmetrical, nor did it have the same impact on its two parties, male and female, but it was nonetheless a recognized and, in the Athenian context, highly valued relationship, whose violation could bring on even Herakles’ destruction… Sarah B. Pomeroy, Women’s History & Ancient History: Chapter 2: Cynthia B. Patterson, Marriage in Athenian Law 57 (1991).

Though Rome is often cited as a prime example of patriarchy for its infamous instances of paternal authority, paternal authority was limited only to some fathers, who only had control over some children- and even then Rome did have laws curtailing paternal power (see, eg., Frier & McGinn, A Casebook on Roman Family Law, at 199 (cited supra), for the case of a father who was exiled and lost his citizenship for killing his son- who was committing adultery with his stepmother at the time- and the discussion of the jurists that “…a father’s power (patria potestas) ought to be founded upon pietas not cruelty (Marcian)). For instance, fathers only had control over legitimate children that were the product of a legally valid marriage (see Frier & Mcginn, A Casebook on Roman Family Law, 299 (cited supra): “…but even when a child is illegitimate, he [the father] will not (be able to) summon his mother into court…it is a legitimate marriage that shows who the father is.” See also James Kent 2 Commentaries on American Law 215, n.a (3d ed. 1827): “…The power of the putative father over the illegitimate child, was denied in the Roman law, and it is equally so in the Spanish law.”). And in some instances perhaps the father did not even have control over his legitimate children, for if a father was himself a “son-in-power” then his children might actually come under the power of his ownpaterfamilias– even if the father himself was later emancipated.

The perpetual tutelage of women in Roman law (like manus marriage) seems to have faded quite early, being reduced generally to no more than a formality by the classical period. But even when it did exist, it seems to have been greatly surpassed in its intensity by the guardianship of women under ancient Athenian law, where “…an Athenian woman seems never to have been independent, with no kyrios.” Douglas M. MacDowell, The Law in Classical Athens (Aspects of Greek and Roman Life) 84 (1986).

…[I]t was realized that children and women could not be expected to act independently, but were generally protected and controlled by men; and so the law recognized the position of a man who was kyrios (‘lord,’ ‘controller’) of another person. The kyrios of a child or woman had authority over, and responsibility for, the dependent. He was expected to see that his dependent was housed and fed, and the dependent was expected to obey him. He had charge of any property which belonged to the dependent; and if the dependent was involved in legal proceedings, he had to speak for the dependent in court…A woman’s kyrios was normally her father until she was married, her husband thereafter…An Athenian woman seems never to have been independent. MacDowell, The Law in Classical Athens, at 84 (cited supra).

Again, the law ties authority with responsibility. A woman might bring a dowry into the marriage, but this was by no means required. It seems the Romans placed more emphasis on dowries, linking them to the financial support of the wife, as in later times marriages were based solely upon mutual affection (“maritalis affectio” see Frier & McGinn, A Casebook on Roman Family Law at 49-50 (quoting Gaius Inst. 3.151.): “Partnership lasts as long as they (the partners) persist in the same agreement (consensus). But when one renounces the partnership, it is dissolved.”), divorces were common, and husbands didn’t appear to be bound to support their wives even if the husband continued to bear the “common burdens” of marriage. And among the Greeks, the dowry was an important part of marriage custom, but it was still not required, as a woman could still enter into legitimate marriage without a dowry (marriage was not limited to the privileged elite):

Whether or not we choose to call them citizens, Athenian women were clearly part of the privileged “insider” community of the Athenian polis. When Sealey argues…that “many Athenians were very poor” and so gave their daughters as concubines without dowries rather than by enguē with a dowry, he misrepresents the significance of the dowry and of the relationship between the dowry and the enguē. The dowry was the daughter’s share of her family estate and contribution to the new joint conjugal estate created by her marriage and inherited by the children of that marriage. If her family had nothing, she could bring nothing; but we should not suppose that dowries were given only by the rich. And finally, if a man gave his daughter as a concubine to another Athenian, he would have thereby jeopardized the citizen status of her children and so his own grandchildren. Citizenship may arguably have been of slight importance to some at the lower edges of Athenian society, but nonetheless it was not a privilege to be dispensed with casually. Pomeroy, Women’s History & Ancient History at 71, n.61 (cited supra) (emphasis added).

And could a man kill his wife over the dowry (or perhaps even an adulterous affair)? The answer to this is a simple no. “Although the lex Iulia may not have specifically stated this, it granted no right [under Roman law] to kill a wife. Thus, Papinian(Coll. 4.10.1) remarks: ‘In no section of the statute is a husband allowed to kill his wife; so it is clearly and unambiguously against the law for him to have done this [apparently referring to the case of a husband who had killed his adulterous wife in a fit of rage].’” Frier & McGinn, A Casebook on Roman Family Law, at 114 (cited supra). The Roman statutes also extended to non-wives as well.

Though the Roman law cases above are all from the “classical” period of Roman law (about 31 B.C. to 235 A.D.) after the fall of the Republic, and though perhaps it is not well known what manus marriage would have truly been like for women in its entirety, the laws of Ancient Greece, as discussed above, also came from Greece’s classical period which date to around the same time as manus marriage (and the Roman Republic) would have existed. Undoubtedly the two cultures profoundly influenced each other.

Not So “Matriarchal” After All: Mother and Child as the Foundation of Civilization (The Ethos of Civilization, Part V)

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V. Not So “Matriarchal” After All: Mother and Child as the Foundation of Civilization

 

 

The same treatment of the sexes and the idea that the roles of men and women and that of father and mother are interchangeable largely has its roots in 19th and early 20th century communist/socialist ideology. Only in these types of totalitarian regimes is complete “equality” promoted or realized to any extent. Indeed, even most of the societies that are cited by feminists and others championing the cause of female empowerment still uphold and uplift the distinctive role of the mother. Among the modern Mosuo “…women are treated as equal, if not superior, to men; both have as many, or as few, sexual partners as they like, free from judgment; and extended families bring up the children and care for the elderly…” Yet, “With life centered on the maternal family, motherhood is, unsurprisingly, revered.” The Kingdom of women: the society where a man is never the boss https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/apr/01/the-kingdom-of-women-the-tibetan-tribe-where-a-man-is-never-the-boss (Last Visited February 18, 2019).

Even matrilineal civilizations (nearly wholly extinct in the modern world) did not denigrate the role of a mother in the caretaking and nurturing of her young children, nor has any matrilineal society expected that men would fill in for mothers and be nurturing. The Native American tribes in existence up to the time period of the American Revolution give familiar examples of a matrilineal society:

…the Seneca was the largest and the most powerful of the six tribes that made up the Iroquois Confederacy. Seneca men ranged over a territory that extended from the Mississippi River east to the Atlantic Ocean and from Hudson Bay south to the Carolinas. They traveled to hunt and to conduct warfare and diplomacy, and often were gone from their villages for weeks or months at a time. In fact, Iroquois men were away from home for such extended periods that women came to control much of the day-to-day affairs of village life.

Among the Iroquois, women were the farmers…

Women usually farmed communally…They had little incentive to farm alone, however. Even if a farmer could produce extra food for later use, such hoarding would be frowned upon if other families in the village were in need…

The Iroquois had no concept of private land ownership. A woman might work a particular piece of land, and as long as she used the plot, it was considered hers. But when the village moved to another location, as it did from time to time, she no longer held a claim to her old fields. Near the new village she simply etched out another plot for her family. Economic security came primarily from contributing to the good of the village as a whole, rather than from individually owning and working a farm plot.

In addition to being the primary food producers for their villages, Iroquois women also maintained social stability through tightly knit female relationships. The mother-daughter bond was particularly strong. The Iroquois considered it more important than any other relationship, including that between a wife and husband. In times of trouble, women turned to each other for food, medical care, and advice on love and childrearing. The reason was simple: women were always there, whereas husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons were often away.

The close mother-daughter bond helped dictate where family members lived. Traditionally, large Iroquois dwellings, known as longhouses, sheltered as many as 50 or 60 people, all descendants of one elderly woman. They often lodged only a single family or a mother and one daughter with her family. Unmarried sons as well as daughters lived with their mothers. The houses, then, and the fields that surrounded them, were controlled by the women of Iroquois villages.

Children also came under the control of women more than men. Infants and toddlers spent all of their time with their mothers because weaning did not occur until children were three or four years old…Fathers came and went, providing essentials such as meat and trade goods for their families and offering instruction or advice as necessary. Although their contributions were important, they represented only distant figures compared to mothers…

The close and enduring ties of women complemented the loose and often short-term relationships between women and men. Men’s frequent and lengthy absences placed a great strain on some marriages, and divorces and subsequent remarriages were common…Because women were primarily responsible for the day-to-day care and feeding of young children and because land was held in common, questions of paternity and inheritance did not disrupt this system of remarriage…men’s absences made easy divorce and remarriage a social necessity. Marylynn Salmon, The Limits of Independence, American Women 1760-1800 13-16 (1994).

It also appears that such matrilineal customs lingered on even in the case of “assimilated” Native Americans, who seemed to have preferred their own native customs even though adapting to the presence and laws/ways of the European colonists:

Assimilated Indians, or those living within the borders of Anglo-European towns, began using the colonial court system almost exclusively by the 1730s. Indian use of the Anglo-European courts to settle disputes began earlier…but it was not the only forum for settling differences in the seventeenth century. By the eighteenth century, however, Indians who had managed to survive among colonists adopted many of their legal practices- though not without leaving an Indian imprint.

In the Chesapeake, Indian heritage contributed to the retention of certain practices involving property. Despite the preference for primogeniture in Anglo-Virginia, at least one Anglo-Indian man, who had a large estate, made his daughter the executrix of his will and left her his land, making gifts of money and chattel to his sons. Whether this was a legacy of Algonquian matrilineal customs or simply a preference for his daughter over his sons is not certain, but there is other evidence that Indian heritage played a role in their use of the colonial law. Michael Grossberg & Christopher Tomlins, The Cambridge History of Law in America, Volume I: Early America (1580-1815), Chapter 2: Katherine A. Hermes, The Law of Native Americans, to 1815 49 (2008).

The disconnect in today’s post-feminist society is in attempting to yet maintain centuries of patriarchal culture and inheritance from our ancestors while at the same time promoting vigorously female empowerment. Roaming, Hunting, and conducting warfare is what the men of the Seneca (and other) native cultures around the world spent their time doing. To return to Seneca culture, boys, “[a]fter reaching eight or nine…began to imitate adult male behavior by forming hunting gangs that roamed the woods in search of small game. Until they reached manhood, these gangs maintained independence from both parents to a great extent.” Salmon, The Limits of Independence, at 15.

How can such male behavior be reconciled with the “civilized” ways of post-industrial society where roving gangs of young men routinely rape, murder, damage and destroy private and public property and otherwise terrorize communities? The answer is that it can’t be, so female empowerment and independence cannot be achieved in the traditional means that are seen in these matrilineal societies. Instead, men must be relegated to the role of domesticated and dependent child-nurturers, readily willing to shamelessly delegate their traditional roles as primary providers for their families and defenders of the nation to women and who are routinely encouraged to act more feminine and get in touch with their “softer,” more emotional side (and society’s ultimate acquiescence in accepting homosexuality, in particular, is the final achievement of this male feminization (see above, pp. 12-13)).

In contrast to male feminization, women must act more aggressive like men, pursuing casual sex and careers- which are often incompatible with a mother’s keeping of a young infant suckling at her breast or toddling by her side all day. (And does this not psychologically damage mothers as well as their offspring when their children are ripped from their arms and from their care at such a tender age in life?) The result is a schizophrenic society where men and women no longer even know how to relate to one another (and increasingly no longer even want anything to do with one another) and the very foundations of civilization are rapidly crumbling away.

We have inherited the good that our ancestors have done thus far. Yet the apple-pie baking grandmothers who devoted their life and time to home and family are all passing away. Now what does civilization have left? Today’s grandparents are a product of the hippie generation and the youth of today will never get the opportunity to grow up knowing the same warmth and love and stability of families that our grandparents and great-grandparents once provided for us where the mother was the center of home and family life. We cannot continue to reap the good of the legacies our ancestors had once bequeathed to us for much longer.

“A Patriarchy of the State:” “Conservatives vs “Liberals” as Two Sides of the Same Antipatriarchal Coin (The Ethos of Civilization, Part III)

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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).

He Was My Choice: The Male Duty to Provide (The Ethos of Civilization, Part II)

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II. He Was My Choice: The Male Duty to Provide

 

I see nothing but devastation around me. I don’t see anything even remotely resembling family no matter where I look. Me and my husband went to my daughter’s choir performance a few months back and I noted when I looked around me that I couldn’t find any male-female couples in attendance. There was a group of three women sitting in front of us, a bunch of elderly people and otherwise just a bunch of scattered out single individuals of both sexes scattered around the auditorium. There was nothing that even remotely resembled family or close relationships between men and women, and it’s doubtful that anyone in attendance was actually married. My perception was that the environment seemed very cold and very lonely.

Society has tried so hard to push gender-role reversal and obliteration of traditional marriage. Increasingly, social programs and legislative policies designed to get fathers to become more “involved” are pushed along with their counterparts of promoting women as being hard-lined independent money-makers. Mothers are not just pushed out of their children’s lives; increasingly, every effort is directed to completely locking mothers out of their lives, barring women from being the primary nurturers and caretakers of their young children.

While plunging into tub after tub of books looking for that one book that is (naturally) impossible to find right when it is needed, I came across the original album of my wedding pictures instead. They had been stored away for so long I’d nearly forgotten about their existence. But right in time they aligned themselves with my current thoughts. They bring to mind old memories- both pleasant and troubling on the verge of painful. And I have often wondered this: Am I so well-adjusted (in contrast to many modern women), because of his love? Because of his protection and provision and guardianship over me and our family? I would say in many ways, yes, I am. I rejected with all my might my mother’s hostile attempts to get me to put a career first. I put my husband and child first. And isn’t this something that modern society should be promoting? Wouldn’t children and families and the lives of men and women do better, wouldn’t society prosper better overall, with a civilization of women who surrendered to their feminine instincts? It is not my purpose to talk about life’s exceptions and hardships here. I only speak in generalities: My belief in my own heart, in his love, in his power to watch over and guard our family, and the ways in which society was better off whenever mothers and wives made it their first priority to carefully and tenderly nurture their homes, children, and love their husbands.

The main problem with fatherhood in modern society is that the notion of paternal involvement in children’s lives and “father’s rights” revolves wholly around egalitarian theories and modern notions of “equality,” when it should rest upon a notion of male responsibility and authority. When I placed our child in his arms and surrendered authority to him, I did not do so because I believed in “equality” or because I believed that he was so wonderful at changing diapers (I didn’t) or that we were co-equals sharing rights and responsibility (I didn’t). On the contrary, I did everything I did because I believed that we were not equals, believing that he should be our provider and protector, and as such my actions were one of placing my trust in him to assume those responsibilities; and, likewise, that those same responsibilities would not fall upon my shoulders. On the contrary, I established a close and intimate relationship with him (more intimate and closer than all others except for perhaps the initial months of mother and child bonding) where I made myself one with him. I saw it as his duty to provide for us. I had no desire to be in the workforce or be independent. I loved him more than anything in this world and my willingness to depend on him and trust him and give my whole self to him (both body and heart) showed that love in the strongest way that I could show it. It is upon this notion of oneness of man and wife that any notion of the rights of fatherhood should rest, and there is much precedent (now wholly ignored by legislators, judges and society alike) for this viewpoint:

A Massachusetts lawyer published and anonymous pamphlet in protest [of recent judicial decisions giving custody of young children to mothers]…[attacking] the contention that a wife could be granted custody without proving her husband had violated his spousal or fatherly duties. The unity of the husband and wife, he claimed, blocked such an outcome. Married women had no separate custody rights, just as they had none to sue or make a contract. Questioning the judiciary’s growing authority over child placement, the attorney charged that the Pennsylvania decision represented “nothing less than an assumption of power by a court…to determine the domestic arrangements of a man’s family.” Michael Grossberg, Governing the Hearth: Law and the Family in Nineteenth-Century America 241-42 (1985).

But when a man doesn’t understand a woman and fails to protect her; when a man won’t listen and fails to understand, most women become angry and frustrated, wishing instead that, if he just doesn’t get it, that he’d just simply leave. But of course, when women hurt and suffer it is easy for a man to walk away; it is easy for him to ignore the things she is genuinely trying to tell him. It is easy for him not to listen, but it takes a different kind of strength altogether for a man to stay, to understand, and to console her when feminine hormones, emotion, and feeling overwhelm her and spin out of control. And as for our children, in the modern world, they are all too often utilized by men as a last-ditch effort to gain control over a woman, especially if she has left him (and especially if he has NPD). In particular where the unwed father or otherwise irresponsible man is concerned, this is damaging, destructive, and obviously runs contrary to any policy goals purporting to support the formation of stable marriages, stable family units, and well-adjusted offspring. But when it comes to a husband, what cannot be lost in the conversation is that marriage is a choice- and a woman’s consent has always been necessary for a valid marriage under our laws since the earliest times:

But, where the offence is directly against the person of the wife, this rule [that husband and wife may not be witness against each other] has been usually dispensed with: and therefore, by statute 3 Hen. VII. C.2. in case a woman be forcibly taken away, and married, she may be a witness against such her husband, in order to convict him of felony. For in this case she can with no propriety be reckoned his wife; because a main ingredient, her consent, was wanting to the contract: and also there is another maxim of law, that no man shall take advantage of his own wrong: which the ravisher here would do, if by forcibly marrying a woman, he could prevent her from being a witness, who is perhaps the only witness, to that very fact. William Blackstone 1 Commentaries on the Laws of England 443-44 (11thed.1791).

Indeed, consent itself is at the very heart of contract law; that is, that by their mutual consent, individuals are bound to legally enforceable promises. The woman who enters into marriage with a man (as opposed to the unwed mother, who may or may not fully and intelligently consent to the father’s involvement in her and the child’s life) historically consented that she would come under his power and control, be supported and protected by him, and that the husband would share in the joys of having legitimate offspring. The initial idea at the heart of paternal authority was to advance the stability of marriages and give greater incentive for fathers to provide. In Nickerson’s Case (1837), the court stated: “In this country, the hopes of the child in respect to its education and future advancement, is mainly dependent upon the father; for this he struggles and toils through life; the desire of its accomplishment operating as one of the most powerful incentives to industry and thrift.” Quoted in Melvin I. Urofsky & Paul Finkelman Documents of American Constitutional and Legal History, Vol I: From the Founding Through the Age of Industrialization 293-94 (2d ed. 2002). Chief Justice Nelson in the case cited instances where the courts would intervene if a man abused his authority (they always could) and placed emphasis upon cases and circumstances where a woman had “withdrawn herself from the protection of her husband” without authorization, the entire point being that the husband’s role of providing and protecting was central to his authority (the wife being entitled to protection and provision from him and expected to accept it). Three years later, in Mercein v. People Ex. Rel. Barry (1840), it was held that “…The father’s right to his child is not absolute and inalienable. In those American cases which uphold to the greatest extent the right of the father, it is conceded that it may be lost by his ill usage, immoral principles or habits, or by his inability to provide for his children.” Quoted in Urofsky & Finkelman, Documents of American Constitutional and Legal History, Vol I at 298-99 (cited supra) (emphasis added).

Similarly, in an 1848 decision from the Cincinnati Superior Court “Judge William Johnston argued that the right to custody flowed from the parental responsibility to provide, feed, and educate a child. ‘Separate from the duty of providing,’ he sternly lectured, ‘the right to custody does not exist.’”  Grossberg, Governing the Hearth, at 256 (cited supra). The concept of husbands and fathers being primarily responsible for the financial support and protection of their wives and children is abundant in the historical records. As a backlash against these standards, early feminists- contrary to the post-1970s feminists- routinely championed women’s nurturing abilities and agitated for greater maternal custody rights to break free of the chains of patriarchy. Initially, these demands were met with hostility for threatening the security of the family:

Demands for formal custody rights secured by statute often met a far cooler public response, as was evident in an 1854 New York Tribune account of a women’s rights rally. When a woman demanded statutory custody and guardianship rights, male hecklers greeted her with cries of “Oh dry up!,” “Bow-wow!,” “Hiss-s-s-s!,” “Get out!” a more reasoned expression of the same sentiments appeared in lawyer-historian James Schouler’s 1870 treatise on domestic relations. Discussing legislative changes in married women’s legal status, he argued: “The danger to be apprehended from all legislation of this sort is that it will weaken the ties of marriage by forcing both sexes into an unnatural antagonism; teaching them to be independent of one another, and to earn their own living apart; whereas God’s law points to the family and the mutual intercourse of man and woman as among the strongest safeguards of human happiness.” Schouler declared that the law should provide “honorably, faithfully, and generously against all possible misfortune,” and teach a wife to “lean upon the stronger arm of her husband, and to look to man for guidance.” Grossberg, Governing the Hearth, at 245-46 (cited supra).

Now the hostility is towards anyone who would speak in favor of tradition and the mother’s irreplaceable role as nurturer and caregiver. Today the hostility is towards any thoughts or policies that would promote the security of the marital unit and stability of families. Not a soul would dare to tell a woman today to lean “on the strong arm of her husband,” and otherwise thoughts of a woman being soft and nurturing are met with outcry and backlash. But surely a society that cared about the state of the nation’s families and the welfare of its youth would be concerned primarily with keeping the monogamous, traditional, patriarchal family intact, not breaking it up.