Real Talk for SAHMs, Women’s Work edition

Contrary to popular belief even among SAHMs, women have have historically done more than bear children and provide infant and elderly care.  They also produced economically valuable goods (in addition to the children, I mean).  For thousands of years, women literally made the money. Cloth was as precious as gold and used as currency.  Even through the Industrial Revolution and the Pax Americana of the middle 20th century, women were still producing household goods as SAHMs, typically things like towels or bed linens.  Women also produced a lot of food and drink.  It was both the nuns and the monks who brewed, after all.

Female labor was economically productive for nearly the entirety of human history as a norm.  Not an exception, but the norm.  This is hard to understand in a world where people believe only alienated labor exists and that unalienated labor is a mythical construction.  The key difference between economically valuable male labor and economically valuable female labor is that the female labor has generally contained substantial unalienated components.  Someone more versed in Marx than myself might suppose that female labor cannot help but contain unalienated aspects.

The travail and despair of the modern SAHM is not so much that the alienated (economically productive) aspect of her labor has nearly disappeared, it is rather that nobody (not even her) is able to understand that unalienated labor is still labor, quite precious labor specifically because of its, let us say intimacy.

In a different economic system, one I cheerfully support (techno-distributism), the interwoven strands of alienation and unalienation could link back together in women’s work and they could be part of economic production again.  In a less mean version of the current system, the fact that female labor is currently almost 100% unalienated would not stop people from devaluing said labor.  The work of the SAHM would have value to her own family and local community even if it never brought in a penny of its own accord.

Though, one must ask, what is the value of making it possible for a man to earn higher and higher wages?  Surely it is a number larger than zero.  It is worth noting that no matter how small, primarily male industries like IT and construction have (nearly always female) secretaries.  Specialization has its own value in creating and maintaining the economic surpluses of civilization and dismissing the work of the modern SAHM because she doesn’t have to beat clothes against a rock is a perilous and ignorant thing to do.

The labor of the modern SAHM is shifted, not “saved”.  Her workload is moved around to different places than before labor-shifting machinery came along, but it’s not gone.  The cruel and petty meme that modern SAHMs don’t really have enough to keep them busy is simultaneously cruel and historically ridiculous.  The feminists, in blind squirrel fashion, are correct to note that women have been considered not busy enough for millennia.  It is nothing new as a criticism or snipe.  It’s just a way to get out of acknowledging that male and female labor are complements.

Nothing is gained by minimizing the importance of women’s work, or its potential economic, social and psychological benefits to marriages, families and communities.  Much, however, is lost, making the world of cake parties at the job and social life solely found at work outside the home look wonderful compared to being told what you do is nothing much and worth even less by even your fellow SAHMs.  That way lies madness and a lot of women running away from the hearth, home and hestia.  This is, in fact, the current situation.

Further, the isolation and dismissal make it even more difficult for modern SAHMs to be able to restore the hestia sufficiently and consistently enough to let men maximize their own production.  Yes, misogyny is economically depressive.  Female subjection is less economically productive than female submission.

Women’s work is not superior or inferior to men’s work, it is simply different work.  But it is not some pitiful rag end tacked on to the “real work” of teh menz either.  The fullness of God’s creation is reflected in respecting and understanding that women’s work is important, has been important and can regain its old importance and status if only people desire to follow God’s will and not give in to envy, jealousy, bitterness and despite.  


Practical Definitions: What is Patriarchy?

This is not meant to be a college textbook excerpt, but to introduce a basic way to think of key concepts of traditional living. Though key to any real revival of normal living, patriarchy doesn’t really exist in the modern world except in very specific subcultures. Patriarchy, specifically Christian patriarchy, is the beginning of the rule of law, with its devotion to those not of the blood.  It is a move away from clannishness and blood bonds towards something larger.  A patriarch is a specific role that only some men can hold.  The guy on the internet pontificating about how he’s the patriarch of his home is profoundly misunderstanding what patriarchy is.  A patriarch is head of a household, but a head of household is not often a patriarch.  This distinction is crucial to understanding why both the fundie “patriarch of mah haus” and the feminist “we b overrun by tha patriarchy, yo” premises are both wrong.

Patriarchy is thus rule by a small, established group of patriarchs with the wealth and authority to enforce their rule.  In Christian patriarchy, these patriarchs are under authority as well.  Patriarchy is not simply a husband being married to his wife and having headship over her. Patriarchy, reliant in the Christian form on granted authority, is by nature more organic than pagan patriarchy. A patriarchy is about ownership with responsibility.  Patriarchs are supposed to take very good care of the people and property under their demesne, including other men’s families.

This is true in any form of patriarchy, but it has a specific spiritual component in Christian patriarchy that makes this form of patriarchy superior.

Now, while this post about patriarchy speaks of it in blood and soil terms, it nevertheless contains practical examples of what it means to live under patriarchal authority.  An excerpt:

How many people would be interested in being part of a tribe or clan again? There are some, I’m sure, who opine of tribal allegiances, based upon race or religion, or something similar. But the day-to-day stress, communitarianism, and sacrifice required for maintaining such allegiances are more than most people are willing to give.

How many men who lecture about the virtues of patriarchy have ever lived in one? How many of them realize that the rule of male elders doesn’t mean that each man rules his home like a fiefdom, but that he rules the decisions that affect primarily his own household and has to consult his male elders on everything else? How many men are willing to submit to the moderating influence of family councils — the same family councils that kept ancient patriarchy from dissolving into the abuse of women and children, even when the immediate father’s rule was inadequate?

How many people who lecture about the genetic ties of race have managed to cultivate these strong tribal allegiances within their own closer-related extended families? How many of them would sacrifice for second or third cousins they’ve never even met? So why the expectation that anyone would do that for someone of the same race that doesn’t even have blood ties with them? The heart doesn’t speak the language of genetics, it just knows that family is family.

How many people who think of themselves as patriots understand that patriotism is a progression of piety? That people loved their families and were willing to die for them, so they cooperated with other families, and those groups of families grew into towns, regions, and nations? Do they really think they can keep that patriotism going in a nation with nothing but a flag holding it together, and the individual families, towns, and regions disintegrating?

As the excerpt shows, patriarchy cannot even exist in a normal society without a willingness among men to accept that their authority is partial, and interlinked within a hierarchy where they are not likely to be at the topmost levels.  In America, contrary to many beliefs, there’s not much, if anything resembling patriarchy as described either by myself or the authoress of that writing.  Patriarchy is about a web of loving obligations and connections that begin in blood and proceed through adoption to become rules and laws for a brotherhood beyond kindred.  It’s not about individual men lording it over individual wives.  That’s certainly something, but it is not patriarchy.

Why subsidiarity doesn’t happen

Jim Kalb asks why subsidiarity isn’t practiced more at Crisis Magazine (It’s a reprint from somewhere else less popular, heh).

His conclusions are simple, but as is common in the dissident right, too abstract.  His conclusion is that subsidiarity isn’t practiced because liberals value fake equality (in the form of levelling bureaucracies) and conservatives value fake efficiency (in the form of cronyism labelled “free-market policies”).

This is yet another example of recasting first principles and thinking that is going to be meaningful.  The real reason we don’t have subsidiarity is because people are lazy and selfish.  Conservatives won’t support the local seamstress because it means owning fewer clothes and how can they prove their frugality is AWESOME without giant piles of clothes?  Liberals won’t support small local businesses that make real profits because that exposes their personal failures to make it big and they’d rather hide behind the illusory righteousness of a government sinecure working for “the people”.

Kalb’s essay is of a piece with all his writing on this topic, a refusal to get down and dirty and be clear about the myriad tiny selfish patterns we’ve all fallen into out of ridiculous, nearly unfathomable prosperity and how very hard it is to be broken of them, for Our Lord.

I will reveal my total nerd nature here and note that Cordwainer Smith, a sci-fi writer and CIA expert, understood this problem well though he was writing in the pre-60s for the most part.  He had a race of superwealthy people called the Norstrilians, who sold the elixir of long life.  Their way of coping with wealth was to tax themselves senseless and live an agrarian life, complete with employees and bosses.  They recognized the risks of prosperity and had their own clear strategy for dealing with it.  Those who wanted to enjoy the money could leave, but they could never return on pain of death.

Now we don’t all live on a planet in the far reaches of outer space where sick sheep produce a substance that can grant near-eternal life, but we could take a lesson from those Norstrilians and accept real, difficult trade-offs regarding our prosperity before we have certain trade-offs forced upon us by the changing winds of circumstance and time.

Specificity is crucial because without it, people can dismiss an abstract notion that “conservatives are too free-market friendly” as balderdash and make no changes in their lifestyles.  But admitting that slave labor allows you to have what you consider necessities?  People would have to confront that reality.  Kalb’s soft abstraction makes it easy to never do the work or take the risk and go live a subsidiarist life.

Anyway that is why we haven’t got a subsidiarist nation-state of awesome.  I come back to the clothing example a lot because the textile situation globally is REALLY REALLY HORRIBLE.  Secondary markets (thrifting) are still part of the problem, just a much smaller part than buying new (even if with discounts and the like).

That’s all for right now.

Accept that some of your sons will be shoeshine boys

Conservatives tend towards a fantasy that they are all above average and so are their children.  This is particularly true with the cohort that relies on the IT industry for their primary household income.  But we can’t all be above average and that includes smarty-smart types.  Some kids will not be that bright and even among those that are that bright, they might be unable to rely on the historical accident of high-paying trades work that IT essentially is.  During the dotcom bubble, white families experienced a shift in how the five quintiles of income were distributed, with big effects in the second-highest quintile and the bottom half of the highest quintile and a smaller but still noticeable effect in the second-lowest quintile.  I will update this post when I can find a link to the chart that shows this “IT bump”, but the key thing is that it happened and has persisted to date.  Those shifts have been in place for about twenty years now.

But as I’ve already mentioned before, relying on a hostile industry is a risky, fragile strategy in the long run.  Yet it is very clear conservatives do seem to think their sons can always just get a tech job to support a large family, where they don’t themselves buy into the college bubble thinking of getting a degree for the same goal.

Also, the IT bump, while noticeable and real, only represents a tiny fraction of all households, including all white households.  Ten or twenty million seems huge, but that’s not even ten percent of the American population.  Conservatives seem peculiarly immune to the idea that if you have many children, most of them will not be top-flight, even though that kind of ruthless thinking is traditional to its core.

Some of your kids will have to be shoeshine boys and maids, and they just may not be able to support a household on those wages and thus will have to not marry.  This is also pretty traditional and one of the reasons for delayed marriage in the past.  However, in the past societies with that kind of delayed marriage provided better tools for preserving chastity into the late 20s and early 30s (like *gasp* women having hard power financially).

I get the ego protection reasons for deeming oneself Mrs. Darcy when one is married to (at best) Mr. Collins, but they aren’t really doing conservatives much good.  The kids know what’s really going on and they see how little food they all get or how tired Mom is or how scared Mom and Dad are when Dad loses that sweet telecommuting gig and has to drive two hours each way now because there’s no replacement telecommuting gig and they’re out in the sticks to be “self-sufficient” but now he can’t help out and is exhausted himself and they’re hours away from even other people at church, much less family.

But if you went back to the traditional view that not all your kids would be scholars or prosperous tradespeople, that some of them would always be employees at best in some little job, you could get them to take pride in that little job and find them a profitable one.  Shoe shining is an example I choose because it seems so small, yet during the eras when it was so common, polished shoes were an essential requirement of society.  Being able to ensure that polish was in fact valued by many of the men going to those stands.  It was not so small to them, not always.

Something to consider.


Real Talk for SAHMs, Infant Sleep Edition

It’s the electricity.  Without artificial light in the form of streetlights, electric night lights, and the glow from various appliances and gadgets, even frequent wakers among babies would sleep longer.

Thus, the conflicting advice on how to get an infant to “sleep better” only serves to divide and instill needless guilt about not having a “good sleeper” when the problem is something much bigger and not easily erased with better planning.  One of the reasons co-sleeping is more effective at extending infant sleep anecdotally is because master bedrooms tend to be the darkest room in the house at night.  A lot of infants are put in cribs with glowing monitors and/or night lights, which is mostly not the case when the baby is in a cosleeper or bedsharing.

The recent trend of fretting about nighttime computer use and “blue light” from laptops and smartphones and tablets affecting adult sleep is the tip of a huge iceberg of modernity.

Our foremothers got more sleep at night even with frequent-waking infants because even a pretty frequent waker just seems to drop some wakeups in (relatively) natural night darkness.  And it is really hard to get rid of all the sources of light.  We live in a part of the country where people are wired for generators because of the rural setting and it’s still lit up to a high degree at night, even homes nowhere near the street lights.  And it is quite shocking to realize how much stuff glows at night in the kitchen, the living room, the bathroom, etc.

I’ve seen wakings go from every 90 minutes to every three hours just by putting the infant in approximately natural darkness.  However, it is very difficult to maintain in any kind of standard American household setting, even among homeschooling conservatives who don’t have televisions (but definitely have some iDevices lurking).

Now there’s a practical project I’d love to see some technically adept conservatives tackle– housing design so that natural darkness can be preserved during nighttime.  There are a number of possible strategies, and imagine being able to live in such a home, or have your own home modified to have both modern electric lighting and the ability to get a mostly natural level of darkness at night even in the city.  The health benefits to mothers alone would probably increase the old TFR by a couple tenths of a point.  Fertility can sometimes be delayed partly because of the sleep deprivation that has become the unfortunate norm for modern SAHMs.

Moving in a new direction

I’m still interested in restoring normal life, but I will move away from note-style quickies and engage a little more with those who are willing to discuss the relevant views seriously.  And write more about the true red pill, the real history of this curious nation known as America and how practical conservatives need to understand history accurately to maintain and reinstate normal life.

In short, I may not be real, but I am real serious.  And that informs whatever comments or posts I make.

There will also be other writers, but when that comes up, it will be noted as a byline in the post.

Let’s get dangerous.  And along the way, maybe a few people can get normal life going or keep it going more effectively at the local, subsidiarist level.



Fraud Alert, John Taylor Gatto edition

If you’re going to set up alternative sources of authority, you need to vet them for fraudulence.  John Taylor Gatto is demonstrably set up as a homeschooling authority figure and even when his name isn’t directly mentioned, the boilerplate about the “Prussian system” and “everyone was college-level literate before the evils of public school” shows up in plenty of conservative advocacy of homeschooling. But Gatto’s claims are not vetted, and when they are questioned, the response is that *footnotes are a tool of the man to keep you from going on a heart journey*.  An example of not vetting Gatto is the claims he makes about literacy being higher before compulsory public education by comparing WWI literacy *data* with literacy *reports* from before WWI.  Subjective reports that ranged from being able to compose a complex essay to being able to sign one’s name are not really a useful way to assess historical literacy or compare it to hard data after the World Wars, yet that very digging into the primary sources and trying to get at the heart of things is ostentatiously absent when it comes to Gatto among homeschool advocates. This is part of a larger problem with modern people conservative and liberal alike running screaming from explicit authority, but then becoming ensnared by the allure of false authorities.