Maureen Dowd's recent article called Men Just want Mommy rattled quite a few cages.
In a stunning act of misogyny, a researcher at University of Michigan has made me excessively relieved that I decided to forego U of M in favor of Wayne State, which was known for its outstanding Psych. Department.
My comments at Ms.Musings were as follows:
"What a ridiculous conclusion to draw from that study. It amazes me when women will take such a misogynist position to gain personal favor in their careers. Aside from the fact that we are so obviously conditioned as men to marry down, and as women to take care of others, the study showed not a difference linked to gender, but to entitlement.
Any human would prefer to be served and pampered than to be challenged. We all like having our own way in things. Men have traditionally achieved more because they traditionally had a support system that career women have not. It's easier to excel in your career if you don't have to worry about preparing dinner, clothes to be worn the next day, children to tend, etc. Things only even out when a woman has enough money to hire the services men have traditionally expected to be provided freely and eagerly by a wife. Career women need wives, too. Who doesn't?
We need to re-envision relationships to include support for the primary earner, or make it easier for women who aren't wealthy to work and maintain their homes."
I want to expand on those comments here, since we've been on the subject of Matriarchy. Note that the psychologist mentions a man's interest in assuring that he not be responsible for rearing another man's offspring. This is the very foundation of Patriarchy. Father Right, and patrilineal inheritance require absolute control of women's sexuality.
We need look no further than the Old Testament to see this at work. A woman who is raped must either marry her rapist, or be stoned to death with him. (Deuteronomy 22:20-28) Had Mary not convinced Joseph of her divine encounter, she would never have lived to give birth to Jesus. "Honor Killings" and stonings are still performed in primarily Muslim areas, as is genital mutilation of girls to prevent their enjoyment of sex. It's all about "Who's your daddy" and it is vile, soul-killing hatred of women's sexuality.
The Catholics who parade at abortion clinics would rather see a woman die in childbirth than end a pregnancy. They choose what may or may not be life to that which most certainly IS life - that of a living, sentient woman. There's no logic in that position, only hatred and paranoia. "God forbid" a woman have sex without intending to procreate - though she is uniquely evolved to do so. "God forbid" she conceal sex outside of marriage. "God forbid" she control her own body, without subjugating herself and her womb to her husband and her church.
I submit there is another reason that more intelligent women are less likely to marry. The more intelligent, the more independent a woman is, the less likely she is to subordinate her needs and goals to that of a man. Our culture has failed to produce a generation of men prepared to be partners to women who do not consider themselves vessels and servants.
The articles above cite two new movies which have male leads falling for women who speak other languages. In Love Actually, Colin Firth portrays a writer who finds that his significant other is cheating on him, so he goes of to the Continent to finish a book he is working on. He falls in love with a young girl who keeps his house. They cannot communicate beyond the most basic expression of needs.
So what is it that he loves? What is it that she loves? We see a lingering shot of her in her underwear, sporting a very pretty sacral tattoo. He is certainly the face of Prince Charming in modern cinema, taking on the role of Jane Austen's most beloved romantic figure in Pride and Prejudice and in the Bridget Jones series. Do we now choose our partners solely by appearance? They don't know each other. What if she's a communist? What if he's a felon? A con man? A wife-beater? Have they ever heard of H.I.V.?
The same film, which is quite enjoyable in other aspects, has several remarks about one of the women being "fat". The girl in question is actually quite normal in size and exceptionally pretty. While the male love interest (Hugh Grant) raises a gentle objection at this, he is sternly overruled by the woman who made the offending remark. To add insult to injury, the unkind and inaccurate judgement is delivered by a black woman. I do love those token torturers who'll sell out their gender just as Dr. Brown does in her "findings".
This all has nothing to do with evolution, as John Schwartz of the New York Times has suggested in Glass Ceilings at Altar as Well as Boardroom;. It has everything to do with the excessive sense of entitlement common in upperclass males and in a conditioned fear of powerful women.
We are all laboring under an illusion. The illusion of the "nuclear family" which has not existed in any culture that I can ascertain for more than a generation or two. Even the whitest and wealthiest families in the West have been primarily extended families, with aunts, uncles and gradparents working as a unit to sustain the home and care for children as the youngest and strongest adults focused on whatever activity "brought home the bacon". It did take a village, or at least a small collective of related individuals, to survive.You didn't walk away from your family, in most cases out of economic necessity and lack of transport or opportunity.
The "ideal" of the nuclear family consisting of only Daddy, Mommy and babies only becomes possible in situations of relative wealth. Daddy has to have a good job. If mommy works as well, then childcare is needed. As we've lost our necessity for family loyalty, our support structures have broken down in a way that is relatively unknown in human history. Grandma may live in another country, not just another room in the same house.We still lover her, but she's not likely to be involved in raising us unless there is loss or incapacity of one or more parents.
As it turns out, loss of one or more parents is nearly inevitable. Like it or not, men leave. We can argue for days as to whether this is born of nature or nurture, but the fact is that it happens frequently. Of course, women also leave, but that is statistically less common, and more likely to be due to illness or death than infidelity or loss of interest or loyalty. We don't often spoil our own nests, and yes, I do believe that to be an element of biology.
As we lose the strict definitions of "men's work" and "women's work", the designation of husband and wife will become obsolete. What if both parents are male? Female? There are more than two? We are starting now to see more stay at home dads, but again, that requires relative wealth or flexibility in work. Eventually we'll see a family as a structure made up of an earner and a support system that won't be determined by gender. As this happens, we'll see women move into the higher levels management and or accomplishment.
Great work requires great support. Picasso had women who took care of business, as did virtually every other successful man in history, including the gay ones. Every member of Congress has someone performing "wifely" duties, no matter their gender. When women can amass the same level of support, they will equal and even surpass the creativity and productivity once attained only by men. There is nothing wrong with choosing to support or sustain a great endeavor. Indeed, one can consider it an honor to contribute as long as it is a choice of career or focus and not an accident of birth.
I think we need to shake off the nuclear ideal if we are going to move forward. Family is fluid form. With marriages more likely to end than to endure, we need to have more stable structures in place. I have always believed that people were once organized more like the prides of large cats. The core of the group comprised of females, mostly sisters, and their children, with males in more peripheral roles. Anthropology indicates that at earlier stages of history, inheritance followed the mother's line, and the male parental role was more likely to befall the mother's brother, who acted as the "social father", rather than the biological father, who was often unknown. This seems a much more logical arrangement to me.
Like it or not, the behavior of males in this culture is taking us back to that. I see communal groups of women and their children spontaneously forming in neighborhoods where dads come and go, but mom and kids remain. The women often pool resources, sharing childcare, providing rides, groceries and money for bills according to need and ability.
The women I know in this situation would be shocked to hear me describe their situation as an alternative to marriage. They're firmly possessed of the Nuclear Dream, waiting for Mr. Darcy or Prince Charming to swoop down and take them away from it all. Little girls are trained to be chosen. We don't parade our little boys around stages in bathing suits and evening wear, do we? The unfortunate reality is that men come and go in their circle, leaving children but little child support in their wake, and it’s the sisters and neighbor women who take up the slack.
A sane society would deal with this reality. Instead, our press and our academics choose to continue to spread patriarchal propaganda that keeps women and children in poverty. Shame on them. It's time to do better for ourselves.