Looking Down on People is Stupid

In case someone is wondering what the acerbic-sounding title is all about, I’ll come right out and say at the start that I am doing something unusual, for me: I am responding to another blogger’s stupid post.

It’s called “I Look Down on Young Women With Husbands and Kids and I’m Not Sorry.”

First, a brief summary. This woman says that feminism doesn’t validate all choices a woman makes. (Well, I could have told her that, but apparently feminism has become so politically correct that we’re all trying to disguise our life choices as feminist.) She says that the idea of validating the choice of a young woman who gets married, has kids, and lets her husband support her, makes her want to vomit. She asks, “Does that woman really think she is on an equal footing with the woman who takes care of herself?” She points out that while being a Mom is “hard work,” and in fact drudgery, literally anyone could do it – it’s not a skilled proffession like engineer or scientist or doctor, and therefore it’s “not as important” as they are.

Conclusion? She wants women to admit that marriage and motherhood makes them second-class citizens; women are only equal to men if they are doing the same things as men have traditionally done.

The blogger has decent reasoning skills but her premises are flawed.

If all mothers stopped what they are doing at once, forever, what doctors and engineers do would become supremely unimportant pretty soon. This causes us to question what “important” means, since what mothers do is so vital (literally) that the importance of any other profession is wholely predicated upon it. This blogger probably would argue that many bright young women could wait 20 years to have children, while they get education, make their fortune, etc. without causing any appreciable reduction in the population. (Although I get the idea she doesn’t really care what other women do – she just wants them to be properly contemned for it.)

Still, let’s examine her position for viability and coherence and let’s check it against reality.

The first problem with her suggestion is science. Women who wait till they’re forty to have children often have fertitlity problems and have fewer children. The children they do have, more often have medical and genetic problems. Plus, if you wait till you’re old and tired to have kids, you might have more money and life experience, but you’ll have already spent your youthful vitality on something else. The kids will know thay came second. Want to guess about the psychological effects of that?

Here’s another problem. If all the brightest women have children later if at all, and all the women of average inteligence are left to keep the human population up, what is the result? Yep. Way to eliminate intelligence from the gene pool, genius. This plan is literally the opposite of natural selection. The other option is to force this life-plan on all women, not just the smart and talented ones. And I gather the more rabid feminists would be OK with that. What would the result be then? The same as now, only more extreme: only the very lowest levels of soceity will be having children at the peak of fertility. Again, working against the forces that normally keep all human traits in a nice even bell-curve.

The other big problem area with this vision of the world is the nature of men. And the complementary nature of women. If you stop thinking about only women for a minute, and take a few moments to think about the human race as a whole, you run up against this bulky smelly drinking grinning swearing football-carrying… poetry-writing, censer-swinging, tear-shedding… mass that is our other half – those without whom we couldn’t exist and who couldn’t exist without us, those who are the same flesh of women and of whom women are the same flesh.

So what’s the deal with men? Well, it’s not just that they are irresistably attractive to most women. (Because let’s face it, smarter women often look at men a little cock-eyed, and not without reason!) The deal with men is that they are enormously vulnerable. It’s one thing to portray them as the Eternal Oppressors, but when you actually meet a decent man, he’s just someone who’s built to Go Out and Get It Done, but he can’t do it alone – he needs a helper.

This is the real secret of marriage. Everything that biology and psychology and nature has built men to do, they need women to do it. And that stuff they are built to do, that they are driven to do?

1. Propogate the Human Race

2. Everything else.

They don’t need special educational programs to make them interested in careers, like most girls need. Men just need to not be interfered with. They just need to spend time with other men and their nature responds to the challenge. At least, that’s how it works in a normal society – one in which boys and young men don’t spend all ther time wearing skimpy uniforms, sitting motionless in rows, listening to women natter on and on.

I’m not going to bother arguing that being a wife is a noble, honorable, exalted thing. In reality it’s about as exalted as the man you attach yourself to, which is usually not all that much. Being a wife means being someone’s helper in life.

I will argue, however, that the world doesn’t work without this pattern. It’s built into things. The feminist attempts to change this have resulted in the dismantling of men. But, they don’t wait until they are men to dismantle them. They do it when the poor critters are just babies.

I will also argue that this is a different picture from the one our anti-mommy blogger has presented. It’s not that the woman takes the easy route and lets someone else take care of her. It’s that the woman takes the self-sacrificial route and becomes someone else’s helper. She becomes the shock-absorber in someone else’s life, so he can get things done.

This doesn’t appeal to feminists, and I get that. A lot of times it doesn’t appeal to me, either. I wish my mom had warned me. Last night I was talking to my husband about how I can’t handle any more change. The last twenty years of my life have been, it sometimes seems, nothing but an endless chain of changes, all of a very deep and profound nature (because I experience everything deeply and profoundly) and I haven’t had a chance to snap back and regain my elasticity. (I admit, my personality is pretty rigid anyway.) I was telling him that our life is disatisfactoy in several despair-inducing ways. Although we now have enough to eat and we have utilities and housing and a car we can drive (for now) we still can’t afford health care, and some thing are geting urgent. I don’t feel that we’re really doing right by our incredibly bright kids. We’re laboring under an enormous burdern that I sometimes find unbearable. I know many others feel the same way.

My husband couldn’t understand my feeling. For him, there is always room for optimism. Anything could happen. He can do anything. It’s going to be all right because for him, we can always make more positive changes.

As an example he named our recent move from one state to another. “I literally changed my entire life in 24 hours!” he exclaimed. “I went from one job and location to another in just a single day. That tells me that I can always change what’s not working. I just have to think outside the box.”

I silently thought about the aftermath of that moment, when he quit his job and hopped in the car and drove to another state and started a new job the same day. I won’t even go into what I’ve been through since that day. I can’t afford to think about it – it’s the kind of thing that you “let go of” in relaxation excercises. That was when I realized – my husband’s can-do moment of acheivement is my moment of ultimate distress.

No, wait: My husband’s can-do moment of achievment happened because of me. Because I was there to stay behind and deal with the arrangements, the hard labor, needed to make his choice viable.

My husband is an optimist because I’m here for him.

Does this make me bitter? Well, when I confronted him with the fact that I’m the human shock absorber in the vehicle of his life, he exclaimed in horror and denial, like any decent man would do, I suppose, and I walked out of the room and curled up on the couch. Five minutes later, like any decent man would, he came in and sat down next to me and when I told him to leave me alone he didn’t.

I thought about this a while. And I realized the problem isn’t that I’m a wife  and mother. Nor is it that my husband is taking point in our life while I’m playing a support role. The problem is that our society punishes men for taking point and punishes women for being back-up. Our society, our economy, punishes us for doing what we are built to do.

The problem is that other women have flooded the proffessional world and made my husband a less important commodity to employers than he would be if the women weren’t there. (Hey, I’m fine with the occasional Madame Curie or George Sand. But why is so much effort spent in trying to force girls into this pattern who otherwise would be happy doing normal girls things?) In a two-income society, what my husband does will never be enough, no matter how heroic his heart. I get to watch him turn gray before his time and hobble around with health problems he can’t afford to fix, and basically kill himself – for nothing. For me. That’s a horrible burden.

What I do will also never be enough, because unlike in a normal world that accepts human nature and respects how men and women are built, I will never be able to afford to get the help I need. I must be my husband’s helper, but I will never have a helper of my own – like most women have had through history. I won’t be able to hire a housekeeper or a nanny or a girl who comes in a couple days a week. (In the past, those who couldn’t do so weren’t held to the same standards of housekeeping and child-rearing as other women.) I pay my 7-year-old son a $20.00 per week allowance because I lean on him so much. My son, the mostly-potential man I’m nurturing in my heart and home, the strong tall energetic boy who should be apprenticed to an older man by now, is playing Mommy’s Little Helper. I have to take care of everyone I love nut I can’t take care of anyone very well.

Feminism did that to me. And now feminism is slapping me in the face for the suffering femnism has caused me.

Some people think that suffering makes you despicable. These are the same people who think it’s OK to kill human beings as long as they are dependent, helpless, and undeveloped enough. They are people with souls with more machinery than poetry. They are people without chivalry, without gallantry, without courtesy, without any of the generous virtues. All they respect is power and all they despise are the things that make human life worth living. These are the people that the modern world cultivates.

***

So. Does putting myself second make me a second-class citizen? Well, it didn’t have to. My reading in psychology tells me that this natural arrangement (in which the man takes point and the woman plays back-up) is actually temporary. It involves a trade-off.

Not that long ago, women who played back-up during the child-rearing years commonly emerged from the household, get education, and became very active and involved in the outside world, after the kids were grown. Their husbands were then retired and ready to support them, to be their wife’s back-up as she had been his. The roles naturally reversed. That was back when the economy was still in balance, when life still worked.

Back then it was easier to get the kids out of the house because the sons could make a living without too much competition from women, and the daughters could get married and start the cycle all over again. The mother was then free to do whatever, and the husband would commonly support her.

Hey, maybe that’s still in my future. My husband says we’re putting 4% into an IRA. If the country doesn’t disintegrate in the next 30 years, we may be abe to retire to a tiny house and finally have some fun.

Regardless, it seems clear to me that by creating a world that is hostile to self-sacrifice, and specifically to the self-sacrifice that is young motherhood feminism has made mothers second-class, more effectively than mothers could ever have done themselves. We live like heroes (and so do our under-valued husbands) but all we earn for it is a slap in the face.

The joke is that this woman is a complete hypocrite. She admitted elsewhere on her site that she says what she says, the way she says it, just to drive traffic to her site. She’s a sensationalist by proffession. Yeah, girl, living the dream, I see.

In the anti-violence world we live in, the way people slap one another’s faces is by verbally and non-verbally expressing contempt for them. The person who can express the most contempt in the most cruel fashion wins. (Honing these skills is what high-school is good for.) Thus, we live in a world in which a person’s intellectual position seems to be plausible as long as they heap enough scorn on their opponents during the argument.

But having contempt for people is irrational. People have reasons for the things they do. You may disagree, you may absolutely hate what they do. I hate what this blogger has done. I hate what the women who teach elementary school do to boys. (And I hate what they did to me.) But I know they are good people, usually, doing their best. They didn’t create the system. They didn’t propogate the assumptions and corruption and the missing humanity that they are laboring under. Nor did I create what I am laboring under.

In order to truly despise someone you have to negate everything that they are, everything that they could do, everything that they have done. You have to loathe, not the corruption that has attacked their truly loved and lovable selves, but simply the fact of their vulnerability. You have to locate what is despicable, not in their actions or choices, but in their very essences. The title says it all. She looks down on young married mothers – she doesn’t disagree with their choices; she looks down on them.

From what height, blogger?

24 thoughts on “Looking Down on People is Stupid

  1. I’m not saying the balance is right, but part of what men are built to do is the dying for others–physically. And you are correct, the dynamics of the economic system make two wage earners necessary or almost necessary. That destroys family. It isn’t new. The hierarchical/complementary family is fundamentally agrarian in nature, not industrial. The post-industrial digital age might help that in some ways, but not if the tech keeps being used in an industrial manner.

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  2. Marriage is unlike anything else I’ve ever done in my life. I mostly fail at it, or so it seems. While it is an opportunity to express what I’d best and most human in myself, the gunky, selfish and cruel seems to come out a lot too.

    In the past when marriage was enculturated, expected and a more obvious economic benefit, it was more attractive.

    The work of the mother and children in the home contributed to the economy of the family.

    Sometimes I think we tend to be a bit gnostic about marriage and sentimental at the same time.

    The folks like the lady you write about are scared of the work and the cooperation involved it seems to me.

    I understand their fear.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think she’s scared; I think she’s posing and the position she’s taken is simply contempt. It’s learned, I’m sure – she could so easily have picked this attitude up somewhere, at school perhaps, or some book she read. I doubt we’re seeing her real feelings here.

      But, what she says is partly effective because as you say, it appeals to a fear in us.

      But, what do you mean, we tend to be gnostic about marriage? Sentimental, I get. Everytime I see a bride, being treated like royalty for a day, I think, “You poor dumb bunny, this is in no wise recompense, if only you knew, for all the other days you are about to live!” It’s like dressing up the human sacrifice in some respects.

      But, you know that you and I are talking like poor people, right? Not enough money is the very worst thing for a marriage. That’s how it’s different from monasticism, which practically thrives on poverty.

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      • Semi-gnostic by emphasizing the spiritual aspects of marriage and not the poo cleaning, sleepless nights, failure to communicate, irritation causing behaviors of our spouse which are just as important as the oneness of body and soul part. The not so simple patience the constant challenge to forgive and being forgiven.

        The simple day to day tasks that done with consciousness of God build a home.

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        • Right, got you. Makes sense. I see how that goes together with sentimentalization.

          What feels healthy to me right now, what I would emphasize if I were giving a talk on marriage to a group of late teens and early twenties, is the aspect of partnership. The best reason to choose someone as a spouse is the person’s suitability as a partner in life. The most important quality, perhaps, is the ability to plan well, work hard and get things done. The ability to make money, or the possession of money, does matter. So does temperament, education, similarity in upbringing, goals in life, maturity, all that stuff. Attraction and admiration is important, because unity is important and those things makes unity sooooo much easier. 😉 The ability to lead and to cooperate, when either one of those are needed, is also important.

          The other thing I would tell them is to put more jalapeños on their salads. What I mean is, kids need someone to laugh at the contemporary idea that sex is the ultimate experience, for there are plenty of other ways to have intense physical sensation. I think a lot of Christian kids get married at the wrong moment because they feel left out of the lovemaking scene. (Unless, you know, they haven’t let themselves get left out.) That’s one reason why I support homeschooling. Finishing one’s education earlier, getting more real-world experience, having a more family-centered life, can all add to earlier marriage readiness (unless the parents are homeschooling out of over-protectiveness) and, given sufficient money and maturity, a better start in life (because you have a partner now.) Christian colleges are also important, and something the Orthodox need to put a lot more thought into, because if most of the people around you are also “waiting till marriage” or at least pretending to, it’s a little easier to take that stand and not feel that you are supposed to be desperate.

          But, all these contemporary problems we are talking about – people should warn kids about those before they start the process of choosing a spouse. They need that information.

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          • “Partnership,” that might sound a bit too businesslike for teenagers and young adults, especially men. Sex is so evident in our daily interactions, not to mention drives and fantasies. Often I wish it were not that way. A Jesuit priest once said said about himself, when a student raised this issue in a conversation, “John, I won’t stop thinking about sex until about 15 minutes after I am dead.”

            I wouldn’t talk to this age group about sex, however. They have heard and seen more than enough about that. But I think I might talk to them about love, specifically boy-girl love. They all know how it starts and what it feels like, but few know what a fragile, unpredictable thing it is, how it changes no matter how hard we work, if we do at all, to keep it the same. And it has to change if it is to last.

            I would tell them that in many cases the shared spiritual part seems to enter later–often as a result of conflict or struggle, like the lull AFTER the storm. Of course it could be there all along, which would be best. But to insist, or even expect, that it be a precondition, a starting point–well, that assumes a great deal of wisdom, or holiness, or plain old maturity (which comes only from experience).

            So the irony for Christians is, if you mature only through experience, and experience outside of marriage is spiritually dangerous, you enter marriage drawn by strong emotions and supported only by hope and the example of elders. But that’s not bad. What might be worse would be to see marriage as a formal agreement preceded by careful study of the prospects for success– because soon enough the circumstances upon which the prediction for success were based will have changed. In a business you can rearrange priorities, change personnel, or even declare bankruptcy. It’s too late for that once you are married.

            What makes a difference, I believe, is the memory of an initial, mutual whole-being attraction, and a willingness to add to that a spiritual support structure, which–if it is good–will help manage and preserve and even transform the deep attraction . For those who are ready to move into their spiritual house and make it a home right away , I have nothing but joy–but for most young adults I would say, be open to love, expect it to change, and find a loving traditional Christian (Eastern or Roman) community, if you don’t already have one, that will help you build a lasting home together. Love comes unbidden, and it is wonderful, but either it grows. . . Or it goes.

            I won’t get invited to give such a talk, and if I did I’d probably say something a whole lot different. Maybe I wouldn’t say anything at all. Instead just ask them questions, and try to answer theirs honestly.

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            • Partnership is a bit limited and needs to include other things as well because the term has been used by some as an excuse to dissolve the partnership when it is no longer ‘working’. Friendship is perhaps a more complete description. In fact, marriage contains all of the four loves of which C.S. Lewis wrote: affection, friendship, romance, and unconditional love. Each leads to and encourages the others.

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            • Albert, I think all of that is really good. I guess I am just too different to understand what most young people experience. Maybe what I really want is to be able to go back in time and talk to myself at 19.

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            • I feel that the conversion of sexual energy into a permanent appetite is abnormal, however commonly experienced now. I don’t think it could every be really satisfying to be pursued by a man unless his desire is toward me, and not me AS the answer to a pre-existing appetite. That’s why I think that it would be good if more Christian young people could get help just laughing it all off until they get bit by the real thing.

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            • Well, he died (happily, I hope) a few years later. He was in his late 60’s when he said that. It reminds me of some stories I have read or maybe heard about St Anthony & other “desert fathers.” Evidently fantasies, or actual devil-made apparitions, about sex were constant.

              I think the priest was trying to get the student to lighten up and not think that his thought-problems were necessarily sinful, or even unusual. But you guessed that, I am sure. On the other hand, that particular priest always seemed rather harsh & grumpy. Since I started attending Orthodox liturgies three yrs ago, I haven’t met any priests who are grumpy.

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            • Yes, I know that’s all there. Sadly, I’m coming to disagree with the common assessment that such men are heroes of the faith, except in the sense that they didn’t give up their profession of faith, and that is the salvation of each one of us.

              As St. Paul said, it’s better to marry than to burn. I don’t think someone who burns has any business in the dessert.

              No, grumpiness related to sex-deprivation is not usual for the nice normal family-guy priests you meet in American parishes. On the other hand if you go to some really ethnic places, they can be grumpy. Many Orthodox priests who follow the fasting cannons quite strictly are lucky to have any children at all, and I mean that literally. And the bishops can be quite ferocious, probably for the same reasons as the grumpy Jesuit priests. I really do wish that our episcopate were still following the biblical instructions to choose as bishops older married men who have already raised a family successfully and who stayed with one woman only throughout their life. The celibate bishop should be rare, a truly Pauline figure. Thankfully we do have some of those, too.

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          • Just reread this after seeing that new song-poem about men who’d rather scorn than sing. It is really nice that all of your blog material is at hand for those who look. Your response to Ms Shattered Glass is worth going back to. What a resource the internet! It even allowed me to snoop on non-Amy. A curious lady, but I prefer your straight talk. And I like that new poem. You are in great form there. And what a surprise in the rhymes. (But are there really men like this? I hope I’m not one, or that I can recognize and challenge one when I meet him. Them.)

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  3. I would chime in, but the topic is making me think pretty hard and so I can’t talk right now. I am following though. Carefully. From my safe distance. I grew up in what my sisters would now probably call a “sexist” family, but I didn’t know it. Later, ever since being educated, I felt a little embarrassed about being a man, though I never stopped. After learning about Eastern Christianity, I started feeling better, but still I am confused about matters of sexuality. (OK, I know. Who’s not?) Anyway, I’m still thinking about it.

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    • I hear you, brother!

      Look, I think plenty of things have gone wrong between men and women over the years. I just don’t think that you can formulate an accurate view of history by putting the feminine at the center of all things, and that’s pretty much the whole idea of feminism.

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      • ….a distorted view of the feminine that often seems rooted in a desire to be like men.

        “Let’s be liberated by not acting like sensible intelligent women but by taking up all of the bad habits of men”. (and we’ve got plenty).

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        • Well, maybe. I’m sure that happens a lot. On the other hand, I understand the fear that motivates such things. Fear is corrupting, but it is a responsive feeling. I don’t question that Anglo-American society in the past did deprive women of some privileges that would have allowed them to act like “sensible intelligent women” and instead made them overly dependent on men. (It’s always encouraging to me when I hear of ancient societies that initially allowed women to inherit, but changed the law later, in a more degenerate age. It confirms to me that there’s nothing particularly natural or organic about depriving women of inheritance rights.)

          So, if it’s true that women are aping the bad habits of men, I think that is probably a mistake in which all sorts of things are lumped together without regard for whether they are really the same kind of thing. It can’t hurt to allow women to inherit property. Voting is a joke anyway, why not allow women in? But using the educational system and trying to turn women into competitive, brutal monsters just so we (as a society) can pat ourselves on the back for having more women in a formerly male-dominated office or laboratory or surgery, is a really good example of what you are saying. Stupid.

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          • I say it because that was pretty much the theme of a talk I attended back in 1964 or 65 by Gloria Steinem. Her address was filled with sexual expletives and exhortations to the women to smoke, drink and fornicate like men so they (the women) could wield the power like men.

            …and the appeal to men was that we would get more sex. Great ideas don’t you think?

            Her speech made an impression on me, but not exactly the one she wanted. I thought it was about the screwiest thing I’d ever heard (literally and figuratively). Now the appeal to my teenage libido was not without its temptation. The was no sense to what she said.

            As I moved toward Christ, I found an entirely different understanding if men and women that is far more attractive and sensible because it is about the fullness of our shared humanity fulfilled in the synetgistic differences.

            I like strong, intelligent, capable women because with a strong woman I can be a better, stronger man– and I need all the help I can get. My wife tells me it works in a similar way for her–my strength allows here the freedom to be more of a woman.

            There are many ways in which she is smarter and more capable than I am. I’d be a fool not to recognize that and support her in any way I can.

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            • I see – your experience includes components that I simply don’t share. You are right, that is stupid and if that is foundational to feminism, then it explains a lot.

              I think that’s a wonderful attitude to have toward your wife!

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            • My husband also supports my literary ambitions (he’s watching the kids right now so I can have a writing-focused evening) and generally listens to me about practical things that I feel strongly about. I really haven’t met many men (some, but not many) who run rough-shod over their wives and treat their ideas and ambitions with contempt. When I have seen that, the husbands sometimes use religion as an excuse, but it is obviously a personality problem. I have known so many decent men in my life, even where there were forces compromising that decency to some extent.

              When at times I feel unsupported in my home-maker role, I think of how hard my husband works and I simply refuse to lay it at his door.

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  4. Hi Alana, I’m pretty wild about everything you write. This, I loved; I couldn’t agree more, but I much preferred reading your writing it than just having thought it all to myself. I’ve been wanting to comment on your Holy Week posts ever since you published them, and though I haven’t yet, I continue to mull them over. With much admiration,
    A newish reader

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