Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Patriarchy vs Matriarchy

One of my most annoying hobbies (according to friends and my husband) is my interest in gender issues- especially in relation to religion. In the past week, I've come across two different articles that take two (somewhat extreme) views on who's really running things- or who will soon be running things- man or woman. As the mama of three sons and one daughter, I want the world to be a peaceful, balanced place for them to grow up in. Is it really man or woman? Patriarchy or Matriarchy? Can my daughter become a doctor (hey! It could happen!) without someone complaining she is stealing a job from a man? Will my sons be able to thrive in a world that seems to cater to female traits over male traits?

Take a look at these two positions. (These are secular articles written mainly from an evolutionary standpoint. However- both make excellent arguments.)

1. The extreme conservative crowds (fundamentalist Christians, fundamentalist Muslims) are breeding like rabbits (my case in point- though I'm probably not enough of a fundamentalist to be called a fundamentalist by fundamentalists if that makes any sense) while moderate and liberal families are stopping after one to two or choosing not to have any children at all.

Soon, the overwhelming population of patriarchal-minded conservatives will overtake the postmodern mindset, and we will be living a world similar to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. No, not really. But just maybe...

Check out this video- "How to Beat Your Wife." Favorite quote, "If he beats her, the beatings must be light and he must not make her face ugly." Well. At least there's that.

Longman argues that patriarchy is the reason the human face has not yet become extinct- and why as population is declining across the globe, it will most certainly make a comeback.

What does a patriarchal society entail?
1) Men marrying women of a proper station.
2) Great involvement of family in children's lives.
3) Stigmitization of illegitimate children and single mothers.
4) The idea that the children belong to the father's family, and not the mother's.
5) Families reproducing until they have at least one son.
6) Children are representatives of their father's rank and honor.
7) Suppression of individualism and full submission to the father.

The Return of Patriarchy by Philip Longman

Introductory quote to article:

“Throughout the broad sweep of human history, there are many examples of people, or classes of people, who chose to avoid the costs of parenthood. Indeed, falling fertility is a recurring tendency of human civilization. Why then did humans not become extinct long ago? The short answer is patriarchy.
Patriarchy does not simply mean that men rule. Indeed, it is a particular value system that not only requires men to marry but to marry a woman of proper station. It competes with many other male visions of the good life, and for that reason alone is prone to come in cycles. Yet before it degenerates, it is a cultural regime that serves to keep birthrates high among the affluent, while also maximizing parents' investments in their children. No advanced civilization has yet learned how to endure without it.”

2) Women are taking over, leaving men in the dust, and stripping them of their dignity and manhood.

The End of Men by Hanna Rosin

A scenario in which the all-sufficient woman is taking over not only traditional, nurturing-type jobs suited for women (teaching, nursing, etc.) but white-collar management positions that once went to men. On top of that, (women) are mad at men for not earning enough money to support their dreams of a white picket fence. AND studies point out that the learning styles in schools are geared toward females, not males- office structures are also female-oriented. Men seem to be at a severe disadvantage and women seem a) unsympathetic and b) annoyed that men aren't providing as they should. Are men becoming "the new ball and chain?"

Check out the commercial Rosin refers to narrated by none other than Michael C. Hall, aka Dexter, a man who balances work, family, and his lust for killing really bad people.

Two key quotes from the article:

“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women now hold 51.4 percent of managerial and professional jobs—up from 26.1 percent in 1980. They make up 54 percent of all accountants and hold about half of all banking and insurance jobs. About a third of America’s physicians are now women, as are 45 percent of associates in law firms—and both those percentages are rising fast. A white-collar economy values raw intellectual horsepower, which men and women have in equal amounts. It also requires communication skills and social intelligence, areas in which women, according to many studies, have a slight edge. Perhaps most important—for better or worse—it increasingly requires formal education credentials, which women are more prone to acquire, particularly early in adulthood”

“Throughout the ’90s, various authors and researchers agonized over why boys seemed to be failing at every level of education, from elementary school on up, and identified various culprits: a misguided feminism that treated normal boys as incipient harassers (Christina Hoff Sommers); different brain chemistry (Michael Gurian); a demanding, verbally focused curriculum that ignored boys’ interests (Richard Whitmire). But again, it’s not all that clear that boys have become more dysfunctional—or have changed in any way. What’s clear is that schools, like the economy, now value the self-control, focus, and verbal aptitude that seem to come more easily to young girls.”

Do either of these scenarios concern you? Why or why not?


Chris F. said...

I'm a man who works in a department with one other man and 24 women. I definately see the emphasis our culture places on successful traits leaning towards the typically feminine characteristics; good listening skills, good social networking skills, negotiation skills, etc. I don't think that's bad, but there needs to be a balance. Typically masculine traits like assertiveness and risk-taking have their place and need to maintain their value. A by-product (or maybe contributing factor) to this trend is the profiling of men in our society. The typical man is protrayed as Homer Simpson or Raymond Barone. He's a bafoon who can't do anything right, only holds down a job by accident, and defers to his wife's leadership in everything. That what scares me most about this trend- not the empowerment of women, but the dumbing-down of men.

Michelle said...

I am in support of the man regaining his masculinity in life. I believe the video of the Muslim world is a little extreme and a group I keep up with from Vision Forum seem to have a better balance of the father being the head as God has ordered and the mother being the caretaker at home. The above scenarios have been going on long enough. I believe we see the results of woman's rise to the top. I believe families and homes are being torn apart because many women have become of ignorant of how to care for their family before their own needs. This has led to irresponsible,dependent, young adults. I believe what is going on in our culture is the result of the place women have in our society. NOW...I have a college degree. I NEVER planned to get married and fully intended on always being independent and taking care of myself. God, however, has shown me a different way in which I deny myself and serve those around me. If God had not changed my mentality, I don't believe marriage or parenting would have went well for me. Obviously, there are always extremes to either case. But there can be respect when the father is the head of the home and the mother is submissive. Many of my posts are about just this and how my behavior towards my husband effects my child's behavior towards me.

I agree with Chris, it is a tragedy that men have been feminized and dumbed-down.

susanb4242 said...

Why can't we all just get along???

Holly said...

Is it possible to ever have a world where we value manly men but do not, in return, demand that our daughters become submissive homemakers? I just want balance. Both scenarios scare me. The 1950s mentality will just lead to another 1960s rebellion. Feminizing our men is twisted. Why can't we all just get along, indeed.

Claudia Jabieski said...

See, I see it as- What does the Word of God have to say about gender roles and relationships? The roles women played in the 40's and 50's did not cause the rebellion of the feminist movement. Sin did. If you read Proverbs 31, women are not powerless. Indeed, they are strong. We have to be strong in order to fulfill God's calling for our lives. Being the woman to our husbands and nurturer to our children doesn't make us weak. It empowers us. We have the power to say "I will build up my husband as a man", or " I will tear him down and make him effeminate". Men are the God appointed strong leaders for our benefit, but we can make or break them. There are far too many careless women out there, rebellious and laden with sin. It boils down to our obedience to God- both men and women alike. And in obedience, we will find true balance and fulfillment.

Holly said...

Very nicely said, Claudia. And as a SAHM, I am not putting down this full-time profession. Far from it- it takes the bravest of women to acquiesce to living under their husband's income alone so that they can be full-time caretakers of their children.

On the other hand, historically, feminism (and I know this is a four-letter word in conservatice circles) has actually done some good things. Rochester's very own Susan B. Anthony fought for a woman's right to vote, was pro-life, and worked with the abolitionists to rid the U.S. of slavery. She was also in favor of the Prohibition and voted Republican.

The 1950's mentality put women in one small, and probably unattainable,box. And it wasn't about religion- it was this overarching idea of class and hierarchy that pervaded the entire culture.

I don't think that promoting our daughter's dreams and aspirations tears down our men. Portraying men as the enemy, or as our servants, tears down men.

In my opinion, feminism has had some happy repurcussions:

1) a woman's right to vote
2) protection of women who are sexually assaulted
3) protection of women who are physically abused
4) birth control
5) equality for women in the workplace

Bad stuff:

1) dissolution of the family
2) feminization of men
3) abortion
4) the idea that women do not need men
5) the burning of perfectly good bras

If my daughter's desire is to become a homemaker, I will happily support her. However, if her dreams are to become a missionary,a nurse, a doctor, a lawyer (well- maybe not lawyer, or a Olympic gymnast (she IS very small), I will happily support her. And so will her daddy.

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

(I do think political correctness has made the workplace unbalanced. And, if there was ever a reason for homeschooling, it's for our sons who do not thrive in an educational system that caters to females.)

Holly said...

Oh, and access to higher education. I'm a big fan of higher education.

Anonymous said...

And readily available feminine products. When they first started selling sanitary pads, they were banned from most stores and those that carried them had to hide them in the back.

I'd be interested in a blog post about biblical femininity compared with today's version.