Since this blog is dedicated to "quick thoughts" I thought I would write a quick blog post on gender roles, marriage, and love which all are things I'm not professionally qualified to write about nor am I an authority on such matters, but internet freedom and a mind interested in such matters gives me the ability to share my thoughts, however unprofessional they may be, with all of you who happen to read this post. Enjoy and share at your own risk.
From my readings in philosophy, history and the current headlines on social issues and "injustices" against women and how men need to "man up," I find that the current headlines are at odds with philosophical and historical understanding of just who and what a man is. Let me explain. Current professionals on men and women and social crusaders want to make man an effeminate creature getting him in touch with his feelings and make him more caring which in itself is not a bad thing, but we must look at the bigger picture of such a task. Is man a caring-only creature? No, he's not. The classical understanding of man is that he is protective, ambitious, and possessive. Allan Bloom wrote, "Machismo --the polemical description of maleness or spiritedness, which was the central natural passion in men's souls in the psychology of the ancients, the passion of attachment and loyalty..." 1 Is this a bad understanding of man? It's not politically correct for sure, but is this a bad understanding of what a man is? Notice that in this classical description of the man's soul, you don't find "uncaring," "unforgiving," or "unloving," so the ancients didn't understand man to be a warlike giant plundering and looting everywhere he went, instead they understood man to be strong, protective, and chivalrous which are all traits despised by leftist people today. The old order used virtues to govern man's possessive nature. He was rewarded for protecting and raising a good family for the society. He had a reason to invest his time and soul into a wife and children. They were his property according to the state and the he was the property of the woman and child(ren). Today, such a thought is gross and antiquated to the leftist mind. So, we have this classical view of man in place. Now why, in the mid 20th century to the present, is it popular to try and replace machismo with caring and sensitive attributes in man? It has to do with marriage and politics to be frank.
Here is the Bloom quote in full: "And here is where the whole business turns nasty. The souls of men --their ambitious, warlike, protective, possessive character-- must be dismantled in order to liberate women from their domination. Machismo --the polemical description of maleness or spiritedness, which was the central natural passion in men's souls in the psychology of the ancients, the passion of attachment and loyalty-- was the villain, the source of the difference between the sexes. The feminists were only completing the job done by Hobbes in his project of taming the harsh elements in the soul. With machismo discredited, the positive task is to make men caring, sensitive, even nurturing, to fit the restructured family. Thus once again men must be re-educated according to an abstract project. They must accept the "feminine elements" in their nature. A host of Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep types invade the schools, popular psychology, TV and the movies, making the project respectable. Men tend to undergo this re-education somewhat sullenly but studiously, in order to avoid the opprobrium of the sexist label and to keep peace with their wives and girlfriends. And it is indeed possible to soften men. But to make them "care" is another thing and the project must inevitably fail." 2
The goal is to restructure the family unit. In the old order, the woman and child were dependent on the man as husband and father of the household. The man would work outside the house to supply the family with food and shelter and he was also the protector of the family from malicious people who would do harm to the family. During modern times, women grew tired of being a wife and mother (who can blame them?) and wanted to have a career like the man did, which is understandable, but this left a hole in the family unit. With both parents gone during the day and maybe even at night, who will raise the child? That isn't an issue just for a private family, it's an issue for the society as a whole. The family produces the next generation. At least with the father gone part of the time, the mother was still there to teach the child and when the father came home from work both parents were there for the child. Today, the child is getting only half attention from both parents (if the child even has the privilege of knowing both parents). Was the old order the better method? Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't, but the new order definitely hasn't produced a better option for replacing the old order.
Part of the blame has to do with the sexual revolution as well. Call me old fashioned if you want, it's ok I have a thick skin, but women handing out the goods without the man having to work for the goods was a bad idea and has only birthed social destruction. Love is no longer "love," instead teens and young adults have "hookups" or "relationships" that amount to basically "let's go to the movies/club/restaurant then do it afterward." Where is the longing? Where is the groaning of the soul for the other person? Where is the wanting to know the person for who he or she is? It's shattered by a lust for instant pleasure. No longing, no passion, no goal for longevity with the other person, no concern for love. Oh they use the word love to describe the hook-up or the emotional trauma the woman goes through from putting out then having this on-again/off-again "relationship" with the guy who only comes around when he wants to get pleasure from her. That's not love. While I hate the apathy of current men toward marriage I can't help but understand their apathy toward it given the way society has dismantled the classical understanding of man and family. The role of man is uncertain in the family and in society today. Does he act chivalrous? Does he act feminine? Each question is a yes and no for different situations. It's politically correct for the man to cower and not speak up regarding family issues, business and social issues, but when he does the same thing in a family crisis or social crisis or business crisis he is suddenly lazy, incompetent, and weak (isn't that what he's supposed to be today?). It's so confusing. When he takes the pleasure the woman gives him quite easily then doesn't call, doesn't show up for the next date, or is apathetic toward a long-lasting committed life with her, he is viewed as a "bad man" or an "immature man," but I have to ask why would a man have any desire for such things? If he joins the union with the woman his role is so uncertain. What does the man do as the father? Does he get to have a say on anything? Or is his role only to be the comic relief guy for the child and wife, a guy who contributes somewhat financially to the family unit and is maybe just a pal to the kid and an object of pleasure for when the wife needs a "release" from the hectic day at the office? We know the father isn't necessary. We know the man can't be the provider, protector, and have a say on how to raise the child. All the intelligent people know that only the wife/mom, daycare, public schools, and psychologists can raise your child effectively; the parents of the child are only there for limited support at night and the middle-men between the child and the real parents at the public schools. This new approach to parenting has not replaced the effectiveness of the old order. Again, I'm not saying the old order was perfect, but it has not been replaced by anything the new order has dished out.
It's no wonder some man acts irresponsible these days. His actions are blameworthy, of course, but given the whole picture of the situation you can't blame him for not wanting a long-lasting, monogamous life with a woman (Japan is a good example of what easy access to porn and easy access to sex does to men and the future of a society). Not all women are like the popular view of woman so the landscape is not a bleak one for every man, but not every man has the opportunity to find a woman who understands the old order and is worth pursuing. Like I said, I'm not a professional on such matters, but this is how I understand this problem at the moment. Easy access to sex, porn, and an uncertain role in the family and society produces weak, irresponsible, and apathetic men in my opinion given the philosophical and historical evidence and the current headlines I read.
To read up on feminist philosophy on the family and "justice" read the Feminist Perspectives on Reproduction and the Family essay at Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
The following posts are excellent, backed up by stats and such and have a great amount of links for further reading: What Happens When Government Pays People to Have Babies out-of-wedlock and this one on should men marry?
1. Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, p.129