Mormon men are not patriocentric

This is one of the reasons Mormon culture retains many aspects of normal life.  Being a father is high-status in Mormon culture, but father-rule in an individual family is not.  This is a crucial difference between Mormon elevation of fatherhood and the acceptable fringe fundamentalist and conservative Christian elevation of fatherhood as godhood.

It’s not that the father isn’t the head of the household, he very much is, but he isn’t supposed to run unchecked in the broader community.  He’s supposed to demonstrate his paternal quality by contributing as a peer in the community.  The Mormons have a very practical view of servant leadership, let’s just say.

This isn’t entirely Mormon, it’s kind of Nordic, a sort of egalitarian gloss on Christian patriarchy, fellowship of equals and all that.  Some of the specifics of how it plays out among Mormons are related to their religion, but the broad practical fact that men aren’t individual lords of the manor running unchecked is not specifically Mormon at all.

A quick example: It’s currently a mark of lower status *from other men* to have 10+ kids.  Mormons converged on 3-6 kids as the normal family size range over time, even though they started with the idea that it was fine for the women to pop them out as fast as possible.  But this was not producing “productive” wives and children, so they scaled back what was an acceptable number of kids for a guy to expect from his wife.  It also means women aren’t under pressure to prove their “openness to life” by having babies near-constantly (a real issue in both Catholic and Protestant superfecundity subcultures, of which Quiverfull is merely the most well-known, but not the only one).

So Mormon women like the housewife life quite a bit more than a lot of other conservative women because they aren’t as likely to be under hyperfertility pressures that hit in a lot of conservative Christian and Christian-like groups.

Basically, since Mormons are expected to have the leisure and energy to provide free community services to each other, they converged on a standard of household formation that is traditional-enough, that can leave married households with that time available even during some of the time the children are little.  Mormon men also take provision very very seriously and just aggressively try to earn good wages early on, and they prove it’s still quite doable if you really want to do it.  This pursuit of what is now “early maturity” in the wider culture means Mormon men are much more open to hierarchy and authority being implemented in mostly traditional fashions and don’t tend to be full of “I’m too holy for discipline/attending church/participating in my local community” like the worst of the patriocentric conservative Christians.

 

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26 thoughts on “Mormon men are not patriocentric”

  1. In what way is the father the head of the household in your view? What does he get out of it? It seems like you want to fashion a detente between patriarchy and feminism based on the idea that feminism is here to stay forever and we had better just make some compromises. What I see with the married men I know is that they’re not the head of the household and do everything men have always done and then some. My brother, for example, has a SAHW and he works a full time job, and then comes home and does a bunch of housework. She wrote on facebook one day about how he came home from work and only sat down once before going to bed. From what Dalrock has written, it’s mainly men, not women, who are decreasingly interested in marriage and church. But the proposed solutions I’ve read from conservatives always just say that men need to do more, and that’s what you’re saying here, as well. They need to prove their quality by contributing more. But really they could never contribute enough once they buy into the scheme.

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    1. You’re beginning to understand why patriarchy was abandoned by men. It comes with heavy responsibilities. You have a poor understanding of history to think that what I’m speaking of is feminism. It’s just normal life under real patriarchy, rather than the individualist fake version Americans tend to call patriarchy (patriocentricity). Having obligations and responsibilities is hard. And once men had the chance to give some of them up, it is not surprising many took the option. Same for single women and being helpers for married folks; once they got to give up slogging along for the community, they took it. Traditional life isn’t easy, it’s just that everyone has obligations and responsibilities and a clear place in life. It’s hard in the modern world to have no clear place in life, even with the freedom from obligation and responsibility.

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      1. So, in what way is the father the head of the household in your view and what does he get out of it? I think they abandoned patriarchy not because it’s too hard, but because the incentives were excised and all the responsibilities remained (and then some). And now they’re abandoning the whole thing and people are desperate to talk them into contributing again.

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        1. You’re pretty inconsistent. You are extremely supportive on your blog towards what you consider to be men who are heads of households and possibly (to you) patriarchs, but then come here and claim men are unable to deal with the burdens with no benefits. Pick a lane. If it’s so benefit-free, how did those guys talk some bird into bearing nine strong sons for them while doing all the housework, and homeschooling, and child care in the first place? If these women really are operating that way, I can’t say I’ve seen an example offline that didn’t have servants and/or relatives in the background somewhere.

          The reality is that if a woman has more than two kids with a man, and definitely more than four, as was ever traditional, he’s the one with the threatpoint, not her.

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  2. It’s not a trick question. That you can’t or don’t want to answer isn’t unusual. Everyone is loathe to say plainly the rights of the father as head of the family and the benefits that confers. That’s because he doesn’t have any rights as head of the family in your view, but you can’t say that plainly either because that would undermine your patriarchy rhetoric, working to redefine patriarchy to mean egalitarian and something perverse (here called “patriocentricity”) to mean the father is the actual head of the family.

    It’s not inconsistent. It’s big picture, small picture, and my own personal experience. If I say why I think men are abandoning the responsibilities of patriarchy that’s big picture. If I’m looking at the general happiness of a group where fathers still seem to have rights as heads of household relative to the complaints of a couple women who have had negative experiences, that’s probably small picture.

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    1. i did answer and he does have rights, you are just making up stuff because it suits you to believe male authority in individual marriages must be absolute for all married men to be real. which is a lot of things, but not traditional.

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    2. Mormon families are pretty happy, the men are heads of households, but not absolute authorities. And there’s a lot more of them than your examples on your blog. Funny how that works.

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      1. I don’t know much about Mormons, but the Mormon couple with four kids who live above me aren’t super happy and he doesn’t appear to have much of anything in the way of head of household type stuff.

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        1. So one anecdote to you means the whole, because you see only what you wish to see. One unhappy Mormon family you know means their approach don’t work, but a few (number unknown) “large” (undefined) families where you claim the man is unregulated in his behavior means that it’s “feminism” if the man ever had a higher authority to answer to.

          Men regulating the behavior of other men isn’t feminism. It’s standard-issue patriarchy. You seem to think that a (married?) man can do any type of behavior within his nuclear family unit (do you apply this same logic to cohabiting couples) and that it’s “feminism” if there is any connection with the wider community. That’s just atomized thinking. Every man isn’t a king, sorry.

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    3. What are the “rights” the fathers you describe have? What are the “benefits”? Are their wives rested and in reasonable physical health? Are their children able to eat meat regularly?

      You haven’t plainly said anything is a right or benefit of being a head of household yourself, but that is also par for your course.

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      1. My ideas are still developing, which is why I asked about the rights and privileges “in your view,” because I was curious, but you went into evasive rhetoric right away, which is exactly what all conservatives do (if they don’t go silent) when asked that question.

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        1. I did not do that. I did trash your rude comment, and this one is marginal, what with the dishonesty and all.

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        1. Oh, so you are talking out of your hat. Unsurprising. Well, your blizzard of BS proved to be utile, so I’m letting it stand.

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  3. Oh, I must have missed it–what are the rights of the head of household and what benefits does confer, again, or can you quote yourself where you said it?

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    1. What do you consider those to be, because it’s something that varies from patriarchal group to patriarchal group.

      Where I live, the head of the household is supposed to be a married man, and the married man is supposed to be the determiner of major family things (where the family lives, schooling for the kids, whether the wife works). Also big spending like remodels. Wives are free to put in their input, and they’re expected to be delegated tasks with freedom in how to fulfill them (say, educating the kids, or housewiving). But women don’t lead in the marriage, they fulfill the duties delegated to them.

      Husbands get status in the community above bachelors and widows/single mothers as heads of households (those heads of household receive the minimum acknowledgement of authority and are encouraged to rely on male advice from relatives or close peers in the community if they don’t marry or remarry). Husbands are not expected to deal with boring administrative stuff. That is delegated, usually to the wife, but sometimes elsewhere. Divorce is rare, and there’s not support for women leaving unless there’s been physical abuse.

      Men have their own separate social sphere women are not allowed to horn in on. I am very comfortable with this, and grateful to live where it is normal that men have their own man-spaces to man-out in.

      But I guess you think it’s all a bunch of feminism because our community would intervene if a neighbor was beating his wife nightly or something similarly a sign that the head of household was behaving improperly (mistreating/beating the children would be another example, or letting the wife get away with doing so).

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      1. No, the feminism I see is in the granting of male authority in terms of giving permission. Like, “yeah, men have authority in their families, as long as the decisions satisfy the women” (unspoken: “Which, if they don’t, it could be abuse and the authority is de facto rescinded.”)

        “It’s not that the father isn’t the head of the household, he very much is, but he isn’t supposed to run unchecked in the broader community. He’s supposed to demonstrate his paternal quality by contributing as a peer in the community. The Mormons have a very practical view of servant leadership, let’s just say.”

        I see feminism here, like I said. The “servant leader” is an ego-stroking euphemism for “servant.” My brother being an example of this. I have a Quaker background.

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        1. No, the decisions don’t have to satisfy the woman. I have been quite clear that the woman isn’t the lever, it’s about men regulating other men. That you see feminist boogeymen in men keeping each other in line for a healthy community and social system is your own crazy paranoia and hysterical projection.

          I do note that you didn’t answer about the wives, because you’re a dissembling, dishonest person.

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    1. Shrug, so I didn’t scarequote it. You’ll just have to live with that one, you poor, poor man crushed by a housewife commenting in between calf deliveries.

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  4. Patrick,

    A wife has the obligation (since you bristle at the word “right”) to speak up when she has hit her limit. Here is a typical list of responsibilities of a wife in a conservative, patriciarchial, traditional family. This list includes activities that are also meant to stretch her husband’s income as far as possible so as to insure that she is a good steward of the money he gives her:

    Be completely open to life and bear the children God sends her.
    Do all normal housework.
    Plant a garden.
    Homeschool all children (and in this day this means university-prep education).
    Bake homemade bread.
    Make her daughters’ clothing and her own (because it is not possible to purchase modest appropriate feminine clothing ready-made without spending large amounts of money).
    Be sure the house is reasonably clean and quiet when her husband gets home.
    Be sure a hot dinner is on the table every night, and the kind of dinner her husband likes.
    Make homemade soap.
    If she is Catholic, attend Mass several times a week, get the boys to altar server practice and get the girls to choir and their extra lessons.
    Do the yard work and be sure the children do their share of the chores.
    Be sure the front yard of the house is neat and clean and in working order.
    Make sure children do all their various chores.
    Prepare the children to receive their Sacraments and get them to their examinations on time (if the family is Catholic).
    Work part-time in a cottage industry to augment the family income.
    Give sex on demand (or, in some cases, be denied because you fell short in some area — yes, it happens. And the husbands are let off the hook every time.)

    Would you please tell me where we are being feminist here? I happen to do pretty much all these things, and I have to tell you, when once I asked, “What’s in it for me?”, I was told in no uncertain terms that my role as a wife is to serve, not be served. Please take note, I did not ask someone to “serve me” — but we’re tired. Plain tired.

    Quite frankly, young man, you have said QUITE ENOUGH.

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    1. I’m going to let this through, but Patrick’s comments now go to spamtown, so he can’t reply except on his own blog. But I am leaving that url available if anyone wants to follow him there for discussing this topic with him directly.

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    2. This is my personal response to your comment. What is being asked/expected of you is too much, especially with no domestic support. I am sorry you are being, well, muled. That list is insanity for a single woman to be expected to fulfill. Yeah, I totally went there. There’s no way one woman (or man, for that matter) can do all those things effectively. I hope you have some family at least, or some parish folks, anything at all. I really do. You’re exactly the kind of woman I am talking about when I write about the exhaustion and oppressive expectations and demands. I will say a prayer for you tonight.

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  5. Patrick,

    Also, whining about how the term “servant leader” didn’t show up until 1970, and all the other things you are complaining about clearly indicates that when some unfortunate is conned into marrying you, she can definitely expect one of the most difficult lives. I know several friends who married their husbands without really knowing who they were (when they did marry these gentlemen, we all were worried about what was going to happen), and, as one of them said to me recently, “I cannot believe how exhausted I am.” And she is not a complainer. But her hair is snow white at only age forty.

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    1. If you’re the same anon, I replied to your other comment that Patrick isn’t allowed to comment here anymore.

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  6. Yep, same “anon”. I wrote both comments one after the other, so didn’t realize that he’d been banned.

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