Repost: Patriocentricity is not Patriarchy

Some things just have to be endlessly repeated over and over, clearly.  Patriocentricity is father-worship, with an emphasis on individual family units being subservient to unrestrained false “patriarchs” who themselves have no higher authority to be subject to (not even other father-leaders).

Unfortunately, patriocentricity is what a lot of conservatives think of as patriarchy.  It is worst in abusive fundamentalist Christian subcultures like Quiverfull or the now-former Vision Forum and Gothard/ATI subcultures, but it certainly appears over and over among other kinds of conservative or traditionalist Christians.

One reason these subcultures are relatively small is because there is no coherent authority or hierarchy.  At best they are cults of personality, which cannot be lasting sources of invested authority.  At worst it’s a bunch of isolated families being ill used by a man who answers to no-one and does as he pleases, which was not really the case in any historical patriarchy, not even the pagan ones where a patriarch had life or death authority over his familias/clan.

Patriarchy means men have responsibilities and have to answer to other people outside their immediate family.  They also, in addition, have headship in their own individual households, but it doesn’t supersede their hierarchical status within their local community.  I find it quite telling that a lot of self-proclaimed patriarchs on and off the internet fight the hardest against actual patriarchy being implemented.  An unfortunate and recent example is Doug Philips of Vision Forum.  He failed to accede to the authority or intervention of his (supposed) co-elders, which again is rebellion and not patriarchy.  More prosaic examples are the guys who can never attend a church because the leadership just isn’t Godly enough for them and “pastor” their families at home.

For the purposes of those interested in Western traditions and restoring them to the extent possible given time and technology, polygamy is practical patriocentricity rather than patriarchy.  So anyone supporting or encouraging polygamy is not advocating a pro-Christian patriarchy or pro-Western patriarchy position.  Patriocentric systems work against patriarchy, and polygamy tends to degenerate into patriocentricity fairly readily.  While not a common conservative theme, there are nevertheless a noticeable minority who promote polygamy either implicitly or explicitly and this promotion should be discouraged among those who are pro-Christian patriarchy.

H/T to Hester at Scarlet Letters, who is slogging through old Vision Forum stuff and brought the term patriocentricity into play.  It’s a very useful term.

ETA: From the comments, it appears the term was coined several years ago by Karen Campbell over at the blog That Mom.

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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.

 

Why men have to work to support families

If you don’t make them do it, they sure won’t on their own.  They will mostly play.  I’m not talking about all men, obviously, but men really need the provision thing hammered into them in a way that isn’t the case with women.

Usually when the topic of male provision comes up, someone always wants to bring up edge cases like a crippled or injured man.  But functioning patriarchal societies handle those edge cases as the individual cases they are.  They recognize that there’s a distinction between drinking away your pay and being unable to work because a horse kicked you and rendered you paraplegic.  Other people, often women, want to bring up the case of women making more money or having inherited money.  Again, the man still has to have something obviously productive to do because men need that push more.

Just as women need the comforts of home and hearth more and will end up trying to turn the office into a home if their natural homemaking impulses are deranged, men will easily be content with a lean-to and a few handfuls of nuts and berries if they have no chance for a family or membership in a properly ordered male collective.  Pro-family is usually going to be pro-male provision.  Even in societies where getting food is easier, the men still provide things like the primary family buildings or fortifications.  So it’s not really an exclusively modern or capitalist notion, again, as some try to claim.  Men build the grass huts even if women are growing much of the food.

Given this requirement, promoting marriage without pursuing goals for male employment at all income levels is a hollow gesture.

Patriocentricity is not Patriarchy

Some things just have to be endlessly repeated over and over, clearly.  Patriocentricity is father-worship, with an emphasis on individual family units being subservient to unrestrained false “patriarchs” who themselves have no higher authority to be subject to (not even other father-leaders).

Unfortunately, patriocentricity is what a lot of conservatives think of as patriarchy.  It is worst in abusive fundamentalist Christian subcultures like Quiverfull or the now-former Vision Forum and Gothard/ATI subcultures, but it certainly appears over and over among other kinds of conservative or traditionalist Christians.

One reason these subcultures are relatively small is because there is no coherent authority or hierarchy.  At best they are cults of personality, which cannot be lasting sources of invested authority.  At worst it’s a bunch of isolated families being ill used by a man who answers to no-one and does as he pleases, which was not really the case in any historical patriarchy, not even the pagan ones where a patriarch had life or death authority over his familias/clan.

Patriarchy means men have responsibilities and have to answer to other people outside their immediate family.  They also, in addition, have headship in their own individual households, but it doesn’t supersede their hierarchical status within their local community.  I find it quite telling that a lot of self-proclaimed patriarchs on and off the internet fight the hardest against actual patriarchy being implemented.  An unfortunate and recent example is Doug Philips of Vision Forum.  He failed to accede to the authority or intervention of his (supposed) co-elders, which again is rebellion and not patriarchy.  More prosaic examples are the guys who can never attend a church because the leadership just isn’t Godly enough for them and “pastor” their families at home.

For the purposes of those interested in Western traditions and restoring them to the extent possible given time and technology, polygamy is practical patriocentricity rather than patriarchy.  So anyone supporting or encouraging polygamy is not advocating a pro-Christian patriarchy or pro-Western patriarchy position.  Patriocentric systems work against patriarchy, and polygamy tends to degenerate into patriocentricity fairly readily.  While not a common conservative theme, there are nevertheless a noticeable minority who promote polygamy either implicitly or explicitly and this promotion should be discouraged among those who are pro-Christian patriarchy.

H/T to Hester at Scarlet Letters, who is slogging through old Vision Forum stuff and brought the term patriocentricity into play.  It’s a very useful term.

ETA: From the comments, it appears the term was coined several years ago by Karen Campbell over at the blog That Mom.

Drop the universalizing of culturally specific traditions

The example for today is a wife taking her husband’s name.  There are many functional, traditional marriage cultures where this is not a requirement.  Some cultures practice hyphenation to demonstrate two families melding into one, rather than taking the husband’s name.  Others use taking the wife’s name to represent the wife granting her husband authority over all that she possesses.  The problem is not with a wife taking her husband’s name, the problem is that it is quite ridiculous to take a practice that is not universal to the practice of patriarchy and extrapolate that it is (or about as bad, that it is the most superior patriarchal approach, also untrue).

Conservatives in America, which is where I live, would do well to stop committing this ridiculous fallacy all the time about loads of other things, although the married name one is a chronic offender across the conservative spectrum.