Being male-identified is bad for conservative women

AKA Conservatives and the Woman Problem

While the problem of male identification is sadly all too real among liberal and conservative women alike, it’s especially a problem for conservative women, as they are supposedly promoters and privilegers of primarily feminine domains.  So being unable to understand that a feminine conception of the world is possible means they can’t be fully effective in the very spheres they claim to support.  It’s own-goaling all the way down.

Being male-identified doesn’t mean “liking men”.  It means that one’s worldview is shaped through the masculine, with no room for a feminine conception of reality.  You may know that women are there, you may even be a woman, but all your assumptions are masculine.  Not all men are male-identified.  It’s not essential to being a man.  People tend to dismiss the problem of male-identification because among inter-feminist flamewars, it’s used to mean “likes men” when that isn’t really what it’s about.  Many male-identified women don’t really like men much, they just can’t view the world through womanly lenses.  But the shorthand has leaked out and makes the topic difficult to discuss.

Some examples of male identification are when a woman argues that all-female spaces of any kind (such as ladies’ Bible studies) should never be permitted, or when a woman thinks it’s normal for her husband to micromanage the domestic sphere.  Or when a woman argues that sex-identification is solely female.  Or statements like “Men just aren’t vain about their looks/stingy with donating money/interested in home decor, that’s just a female thing.” The behavior examples are more often found among women in American culture, but they are still much more than occasionally found in men.  It’s taking 60/40 or 70/30 sex-splits on a behavior and treating them as 100/0 due to identifying so strongly with maleness as primarily positive.  It’s when women think there is only being as close to a (small, inferior) man as possible or being attractive to men.  And conservative women have being a man off the table, so that leaves hypersexualized pursuit of sexual appeal to men.  Bad, bad, bad.

Male identification also leads women to marry men who refuse to provide.  And to marry men they don’t respect or consider adult.  These aren’t things a woman does nearly as frequently if she is either neutral or female-identified (in the latter case, there’s a lot of simply not marrying at all).  I don’t mean androgynous when I say neutral, but something closer to ordinary or average.  Normal, though, in American society is very obviously male-identified.

This male identification is part of why conservatives have so little to offer women, even though they possess the supposed trump card of advocating for what women mostly would do anyway if left to their own devices.  Another way male identification manifests is in not barring the door when men pontificate about female topics.  Most of what I blog about is not contested by other conservative women in general terms.  They tend to agree that yes, women are often isolated and yes, a lot of other historical periods had more women doing household stuff.  At worst the average conservative woman’s rebuttal is “my grandma worked hard and didn’t complain!” or “well if you follow a 293 point organization plan and/or pray harder it can work!”

But conservative men routinely stomp into such discussions about these female matters and overwhelmingly not only dispute the plain facts, they argue that it’s easy and even fun to live a modern housewife’s life and that further, SAHMs have always had it easy and never had to do anything strenuous.  And instead of conservative women shooing such men out, they tend to accept such remarks from men as normative portrayals of female life and behavior through time.

If the Christian manosphere wants wives, they should be nicer to middle aged married women

Despite the generally hilarious claims of the manosphere’s Christian rump to be interested in traditional sex roles and traditional understandings of marriage and authority, they ignore the obvious traditions when those traditions mean some woman somewhere might have actual social status and a respected position in her community beyond being a wife or a mother.  They write endless screeds on marriage readiness as a sort of role playing game where it’s just a matter of hitting some benchmarks with “the current girl” enough times and you’ll get to the final boss fight (wedding ceremony) of Marriage: The Quest for a Purest of Pure Godly Submissive But Also Hardbodied Wife.  Or they write about finding a wife as though it’s about sifting through character traits like a basket of costumes, wearing only the ones “women care about the most”.

Left out of all this, of course, is going to the conservative Christian women who are most likely to be swimming in under 25, chaste, often Christian young women who want to marry and be housewives.  That is middle aged women in their 30s and 40s.  Older such women usually have all the kids out of the house and are mostly around career types or caring for their relatives’ kids.  Younger such women are swimming in very young kids of their own or working.  But women in their 30s and 40s usually have at minimum stuff like the teachers and administrators of their childrens’ activities and school (yes, even homeschooling women) or their own teenagers/young 20somethings heading into marriageable age range.  Some also have the (usually young) women who help out around the house and/or younger female relatives who really like children enough to buck social norms and hang out with them a lot.

Middle aged married women used to serve as a bridge between young single men and young single women, gently and sometimes not so gently guiding compatible personalities towards each other even in ye olde times when marriage was supposedly never about romantic attachment, just babies and property.  And yet, those women are no longer treated as valuable assets in the quest for a wife by young Christian men.  The Christian manosphere is just jerky and disrespectful about it rather than oblivious.  As a result, even though many middle aged married women are still able to have acquaintance with young marriageable women, they don’t get any opportunities to revive the old traditions of guiding and matchmaking compatible young people towards a clear marriage path (no long engagements, as one example).

In a legitimately Christian patriarchal social structure, married women have real social power as a result of being married women.  This is something the Christian manosphere doesn’t get about the realities of Christian patriarchy.  Non-Christian patriarchy can be this way, but needless to say, women have more freedom in Christ and that extends to their roles in a patriarchal system too.  One of the ways you can tell the manosphere talk about restoring traditional sex roles is not “sex realism” is that they don’t believe that the state of being married confers real status on a woman.  They believe the status conferred is just stuff in her silly female brain, that the only real status accrues to men.  This is a lot of things, but it’s not very traditional for Western Christian societies.

Even in our deracinated, atomized society, middle aged married women are the ones who are around the kind of teenaged and 20something young women who still want marriage and babies and staying home with them more than any other group of people and therefore the fact that nobody knocks on middle aged married womens’ doors offering to help them throw parties and social events to bring together young singles in a neutral but emotionally complex setting that allow for getting to know someone’s personality and attitude (they don’t) is part of why the Christian marriage situation is so dire for men and women alike.

Children are not fungible

One of the major blind spots conservatives have regarding family size is the oddly egalitarian idea that all children are basically the same and will turn out well (read: better than the children of their ideological opponents) no matter how much or how little you do for them beyond the basics. That, therefore, one should pop ’em out like pez because really, they just need extremely cheap food, some thrift-store clothes and can be put to sleep anywhere with a roof over it and anything more is just “nice to have”. But children are not all the same.  To use an obvious example, a Down’s syndrome child will need very different resources and time than a neurologically and physically “normal” child.  To use a less obvious example, there are babies that don’t mind if Mom pops into another room for an hour and will be very relaxed and let her take care of other little tasks that whole time, while other babies freak out if Mom just goes around the nearest corner for ten seconds.  Those two babies grow up into children with very different social and interaction needs.

More to the point, the subtext of the endless refrains about how little children need elides the reality that if you have something like a Temple Grandin on your hands, that kid will need much and the price is very likely to include not many more or even any more children.  She is an extreme and remarkable example, but there’s many other situations where it doesn’t serve the children or child you have already to keep adding more to the mix.  Children can and do “get lost” in larger families and sometimes it will still all work out, but in a society where there are not tons and tons of other women around to help out, each individual mother has less reserve for additional children even if she is of the “rack and stack in one corner of our shack, feed ’em beans and rice til 18 and dress them only in castoffs” school of thought.  This isn’t about coddling or helicoptering children, it’s about being able to meet the non-physical needs that children have effectively.  And that’s hard to do when legal regulations mean having to purchase from among a short list of expensive vehicles in order to have more than three kids since most of America isn’t “walkable”.  Or when the costs of “walkable” neighborhoods are so high that the household income has to be top 20% to even rent in one.  Or when it’s a full time job just coordinating educational needs for each successive child.

The numbers don’t lie.  There’s a reason very few people have that fifth or sixth child.  I wish more women could, but we’d have to live in a pretty different world for that to happen.

The white middle class needs black dysfunction and government handouts to exist as a middle class.

It is a canard of the alternative or dissident right that the black middle class is purely government jobs and could not otherwise exist.  It is a canard because the dissident right is astonishing in its historical ignorance and corresponding pretentious arrogance about history.  But the truth is that the white middle class is a government-funded creation too.  The massive edifice of expensively credentialed whites who are paid middle class wages and pensions to administer to (mostly) black dysfunction is just as much a bunch of makework projects as, say, the apocryphal angry black employees at the DMV.

And it is massive, consisting of psychologists, teachers, lawyers, nominally private sector business owners, and so forth.  Not to mention Information Technology, the industry that wouldn’t even exist without FDR’s cheap energy infrastructure projects.  Including rural electrification so that “self-sufficient” white people can indulge their “homesteading” pretensions funded by telecommuting jobs in IT.

This has been sitting around a long time, and while it was, some very naughty and unsafe for work alternative right folks came up with a podcast (podcasts I simply never listen to on general principle, but someone sent me the link with a summary of the podcast) in which they reverse the usual canards and agree with this post, which is pretty hilarious.

Related, the California dream was funded by Vietnam War spending.  Those good engineering jobs were bought with the blood of less connected and poorer whites (and some blacks as well).

Dear Conservatives, setting things up so all housewives are drudges is anti-natalist and untraditional

Bullying women into staying home obviously doesn’t work, and yet it appears to make up the whole of the conservative argument for women staying home.  This is one of the core problems with American conservative Christian culture.  It leads to conservative Christian SAHMs putting kids into preschool as soon as the children age into it for breaks because “well, it’s not daycare now, it’s school!” It also leads to those women having fewer and fewer children.  Three is the new five and two is the new three.

Take cooking, as one example. Making stock takes time.  Sure, you don’t have to stand right over the pot, but you have to be in the general vicinity of the kitchen for 3-5 hours for relatively modest amounts of stock.  Now, this is the sort of homemade staple that we SAHMs are supposed to just have handy at all times, but it takes time to make it, and it takes even more time to make huge batches that you then freeze.  That’s a day or two or three you aren’t doing much else.  And I’ve already covered laundry.

As for childcare, we can’t all have lump babies that stay put wherever you plop them and we can’t all have children who hear an instruction to play quietly when they are older and do so for hours on end (this is actually fairly rare).  And the current status quo of spinning the childcare out to public school or preschool is not tenable, because it limits fertility and the false idol of homeschool robs a lot of communities of the stability they desperately need to have a functional school system.

There is no argument against homeschooling on a family level. Parents have the right and duty to educate our children as we see fit, and a state that interferes with this is acting unjustly. On a larger level, however, homeschooling as a movement is extremely uncharitable and antisocial. Not everyone can homeschool. As a society, we need schools and other collective institutions to spread the burden of childcare and primary education and to properly civilize and educate young people. But if you saddle enough individual families with the total burden of the care and education of their own children, you ensure that those families will have no surplus to support any such institutions. And this is in fact exactly what has happened. Everyone blames this on the homeschooling families themselves, because when you’re talking about homeschooling families you’re really talking about homeschooling mothers and no one ever passes up an opportunity to blame mom for everything, but individual families are just doing our best in impossible situations. But people who can’t homeschool are left entirely at the mercy of the world all the homeschooling families have retreated from. There’s no civil society to join run by homeschooling mothers because we’re all too tired. Homeschooling mothers generally don’t even help each other out.

http://www.isegoria.net/2015/04/making-time-for-kids/#comments  This longitudinal study suggests that being there when the kids are little is worth a lot less if the SAHM isn’t relatively rested most of the time.  And there is an argument here (though not one I would advocate or consider pro-woman) for working while they are little and then, when they need the intensive parenting in teenagerhood, being available then as a SAHM.

This is why it’s insane to set things up so all women are drudges, it’s not Christian or functionally patriarchal. A lot of personality disordered people are able to hide out in “traditional womanhood” because there is an irreducible amount of domestic work and right now, that burden is going to fall on women. People can fantasize about it being different but right now, that’s how it is. Moreover, very few people can make more money than their labor is worth at home and very few couples can split the work effectively, for exactly the same reasons jobsharing doesn’t work, which is that you need a manager.

Much of femininity and marriage is socially constructed but you can socially construct it well or you can socially construct it stupidly and marriage and patriarchy are BETTER so who cares if they’re natural plus, Christian patriarchy is the only society that supports female liberation so stop sawing the branch you’re sitting on.

Lastly, women used to produce concrete results in their domestic work.  The industrial age was a rapid process of removing those concrete accomplishments from the domestic sphere and replacing them with vague repetitive tasks like driving the kids to activities (which goes all the way back in America to the 1920s!) and endless cleaning up kid messes and of course our dear friend laundry.  Those things are not terrible or wrong for mothers to do, but the conservative approach to the whole thing is to lie to women that they never had any other aspects to their domestic work and that they should delight in the abstract repetitive slog with no clear results at the end of each day.  Women then run to “crafts” in a flight to concrete accomplishment, and then are mocked for the crafts not being sufficiently useful or practical.  It’s a vicious trap.

Anyway this is all just random notes accumulated over time so if it doesn’t read like an essay, well, it’s not. I don’t know how to help women get the concrete aspects back for domestic labor when it’s simply not essential to survival anymore.  Our household lives a pretty agrarian lifestyle and we wouldn’t starve if we had a plague followed by a drought.  It would just be expensive to buy store food again.  And that’s pretty much the core of the problem.  The concrete accomplishments of my agrarian living help alleviate the stresses of the worst of modern housewiving, but “be agrarian LARPers” is not a general solution to a general problem.