Monday, March 24, 2014

He And She: An Embryonic Manifesto

A foreword of sorts: I wrote this piece in a cold fury, a deliberately cultivated state of extreme anger over a pictorial insult. It was an insult not just to men, but to Mankind as a whole and to the civil society we once achieved in these United States but have recently, in historical terms, allowed to degenerate.

As I've said before, I stand by my words -- that's why I always go by my full and correct name -- and I stand by the ones I penned below. But the torrent of email I received in response has persuaded me of the importance of a definitive statement of position on relations between the sexes, which I will now endeavor to produce.

Those emails, by the way, were about evenly divided between "bravo!" and "how dare you!" It wasn't always possible to discern the sex of the sender, nor was I particularly concerned. After all, quite a lot of "beta males" are obsessed with gaining sexual access to women and are utterly convinced that the only way to do so is to echo gender-war feminism's shibboleths and kowtow before its totems. To such a man, any suggestion that not all of us think the way he does (or pretends he does) is seen as a threat to his prospects. I dismiss the opinions of such creatures with prejudice.

What follows, today and in the immediate future, is one man's opinion. It shouldn't be necessary to say that at such times, yet it is so. The harridans who deluged me with vilification over "Female Idiocy" can relax, if that's possible to them. No one is likely to start a movement based on anything that appears at Liberty's Torch. But perhaps a few American men will see the following as a coherent and cogent articulation of what they've always known but were reluctant to admit and even more reluctant to live out -- and perhaps a few American women will rediscover the virtues of a social regime in which each individual among us admitted unabashedly to his nature and was unembarrassed by it.

We begin.

Mankind is part of Nature, and so has a nature of its own. Our division into two sexes has imbued each of those sexes with a set of differentiating characteristics: a "sub-nature" of its own. All rational thought about relations between the sexes must respect the implications of those statements.

Evolutionary pressures caused one sex -- his -- to assume the role of provider and protector to the other. Moreover, it could not have been reversed: the childbearing and child-nurturing functions are utterly inimical to the routine assumption of extreme exertion, physical hazard, and possible death. If there were any tribes among the Neanderthals that left the provider/protector role to her, the decision disadvantaged them so completely that no evidence of their existence has reached our time.

That evolutionarily imposed division of labor had other consequences for the temporal progress of Mankind. The women "left behind" at the tribal campsite while the men foraged and chased animal herds tended toward a communal existence, in which many resources were shared. Perhaps the most important of those resources was the supervision of the tribe's children. Another element of importance was the propagation of the tribe's history, for thousands of years a matter of oral tradition conserved mainly by the women. These and similar influences molded the human female into a communally inclined, consensus seeking creature powerfully attuned and sensitive to the opinions, knowledge, and attitudes of other women.

Note how this fails to find a close parallel among men. Men naturally came to respect the initiative and prowess of other men, and sought to learn from one another those elements of knowledge most conducive to the survival and flourishing of the tribe. However, as they were not as closely gathered, day by day, as the tribe's women, they experienced far less pressure to conform to a group consensus. Greater variation in aptitudes and styles followed as a matter of course.

The advent of tool-making and tool-using perpetuated the distinctions. Though tools did (and do) ease many of the more strenuous occupations, such that exceptional women became capable of undertaking certain previously all-male chores, there was a tendency for him to regard tools and their uses as his preserve -- and she, already adapted to her role, tended to concur in that decision. The gulf remained largely unbridged as Mankind progressed toward civilizations capable of achieving an "impersonal identity:" the perpetuation of a society's history, norms, and aesthetics over long intervals without the need for oral sustenance.

The first of the Western cultures to embed meticulous record-keeping at its core, the pre-Christian Jews, were unabashed about the division of labor between him and her, and the whys and wherefores pertinent to it. Their general orientation toward relations between men and women became that of Western Civilization generally, for a simple reason: it worked. That is, it served the survival needs of Mankind overall while giving each of the sexes the duties it could best handle and had come to prefer. That orientation persisted, largely unchallenged, until the mid-Twentieth Century and the advent of Progressivism.

It's time to explore what the sexes' respective adaptations have implied about modern American society's observable patterns and structures: maturation, courtship, marriage and family, "normal" occupations, business and commerce, "responder" vocations, the military, and of course politics.

Adaptation has imbued him with a far greater degree of initiative and aggression. This naturally gave rise to a male preference for undertakings that emphasize those qualities: the military, the "responder" vocations, and the formation of new enterprises. Conversely, adaptation has bestowed upon her a talent for conserving and managing. That embraced the protection and nurturance of children, domestic resources, and what was once known as "women's wisdom," a subject to which we'll return a bit later. Though argument persists as to whether these proclivities are genetic or merely maintained through social continuity, their perpetuation over time should put an end to the notion that they're influences to be casually dispensed with. This is especially important in the case of courtship, marriage, and the family: the one and only venue in which he and she are incapable of proceeding in isolation from one another.

Aggression and initiative aren't inherently good things, guaranteed to be employed only in the service of the Right, the True, and the Good. Male sexual aggression, in particular, had to be constrained and conditioned by institutions that would detoxify its worst effects. The most important of those institutions was marriage: his open acceptance of responsibility for the protection and sustenance of his wife and whatever children she might bear him, mated to her promise of constancy toward him and her commitment to the proper upbringing of their offspring.

Marriage, which has become a social and political minefield in our time, is as poorly understood as it is critical. Modern advocates for this or that alteration to marriage view it almost exclusively as either a political institution or a religious institution. Neither of those characterizations is at all accurate.

Marriage is a social institution. Regardless of the political and religious encrustations marriage has accumulated in recent centuries, he and she are married, de facto, if and only if the surrounding community regards them as married. It began that way and continues that way wherever its functions are still respected. Unfortunately, that doesn't describe contemporary America, but we'll get to that a bit later.

The indispensable functions of marriage pertain to the protection, support, and nurturance of those who cannot do those things for themselves. The husband is obliged to protect his wife and children and to provide for them to the best of his ability. In time of need or crisis, he might be assisted by his community, but they remain his obligations, any default in which accrues to him and him alone. The wife is reciprocally obliged to nurture the children, to protect them from harm, and to make them ready, insofar as that's possible, for the opportunities and stresses that come with adulthood. She, like her spouse, might be bolstered in those things by her community, but the obligations remain hers alone.

However, it should be plain that to be respected such commitments, on either side, require certain guarantees: in particular, solemn promises that neither spouse will procreate outside the marriage. For either spouse to present the other with a "by-blow" is an unacceptable broadening of the agreed-upon obligations. Beyond that, the medical and emotional hazards involved in mere sexual adventurism, entirely without consequences measured in diapers and midnight feedings, were appreciated by the societies in which marriage was born. Thus, the marital commitment came almost at once to include promises of sexual exclusivity.

It became a staple of "women's wisdom" that sex is a gift not to be lightly bestowed upon an uncommitted suitor, no matter how attractive or ardent. Sexual access wasn't the whole of the lure by which she could catch herself a man, but it was certainly part of the package. Society reinforced that "bundling" of her gifts with strong public disapproval of premarital sex, conveyed both by religious institutions and by secular culture. In extremis, when the "rules" were violated to the extent of a premarital conception, the "shotgun wedding" was a common response.

Post-marital family life perpetuated the roles that flowed from the sexes' respective adaptations. He undertook the protection and material support of the family; she saw to the home, the kids, and community relations. Should military necessities arise, he might rally to the colors, but she was expected to continue on, more or less as she'd already done. Exceptions were rare during the centuries before World War II, nor were there many complaints about the arrangement.

Some women chafed at what they saw as "confinement" arising from the responsibilities of marriage and motherhood. There were vocal advocates for varieties of "women's liberation" a century ago, though they came nowhere near the stridency or breadth of modern feminist demands. But the marital bond, the traditional functions of the sexes within it, and the social and religious constraints that powerfully discouraged premarital sex and its potential consequences, were viewed as right and necessary.

The operative word was respect.

Respect of men for women and vice-versa flowed from the recognition that each had something the other needed (or wanted desperately), and could not be forced to surrender without extremely adverse consequences. More recent developments have clouded that perception, but have not altered the underlying facts:

  • Each side wants the emotional sustenance and satisfaction the other can provide.
  • He wants sexual access and (more often than not even today) children.
  • She wants protection, material support, and the stature among other women that comes from having a respected spouse, a decent home, and a stable place in the community.

Some of the objective conditions that gave rise to the strictures against premarital sex and sexual adventurism have been muted by technology. Before Wasserman tests, penicillin, and reliable contraception, casual sex was far riskier than it is today. Yet this softening of the constraints pertains solely to physical consequences; the social and emotional consequences remain as they were.

Worst of all the developments of the past five decades has been the cultural embrace of the notion of utterly carefree, consequence-free sex. It sometimes seems as if our contemporary arts can address no other subject. It's a toxin that has polluted relations between men and women to a degree that's impossible to exaggerate. It did so by reducing her to a commodity: a body to be exploited.

Whereas he was once taught to respect his female counterparts, the prevalent attitude today is one of cheerful sexual predation, as if there could be no price for such arrant wolfishness. Whereas she was once taught to beware the slick talker, the "bad boy," and the opportunist, innumerable voices today counsel her to "let the good times roll," as if her psyche were armored against the humiliation from being treated as "a life support system for a pussy" (Greg Iles, Blood Memory). But the consequences cannot be averted -- and one of them is the contemporary emergence of the attitude, common to men and women both, that the other sex is the enemy -- and in dealing with one's enemy, there are no responses that are inherently out of bounds.

And so we get obscenities such as the one that stoked my fire yesterday morning.

More anon.

1 comment:

CGHill said...

The most heinous consequence of all this, of course, has been the insistence that snuffing an infant in the womb is a matter of "women's health care." But you knew that already.