Why I didn’t finish Somewhither by John C. Wright.

To be quite brief, I got to the Superwife section early in the book (less than 20% in) and I was done.  I couldn’t keep going much further.  The book is written in mostly teenage boy first person, which I had read from other non-spoiler reviews was a bit rough going in the early chapters, but that was not my real obstacle.  It was the teenage boy recalling his mother, who was Donna Reed (without the housekeepers of course) melded with mannish interests like woodcarving hot rods.  And also melded with the rude homeschool parent caricature growling at school officials coming over politely and reasonably.

It was too fantastical for me, and the book is a fantasy novel.

The Grain of Truth theory of effective activism.

Activism is effective politically and even socially when it starts from one true thing. Even if a giant forest of lies is built up around that, one small grain of truth is what keeps people attached. This is more true of progressive activism than conservative activism, but that is fairly recent.

The reason conservatives lose so much of the time is that they prefer stories that don’t even have the grain of truth and then wonder why people reject them. A good example is the bizarre love affair conservatives have with food stamps needing to be converted into actual raw ingredients. That this was done and didn’t work and that food stamps really are better at both feeding little kids who can’t help who their dysfunctional parents are and at getting said parents to be less dysfunctional is something they appear to be utterly ignorant of. Conservatives prefer a story about how things ought to be over the historical reality.

That’s just one example. There are plenty of others. Wide open topic for discussion.

Poking at the large family myth bubble.

As anyone reading along in this blog or the broader American right wing knows, there is a loud contingent of people who assert that in America, large families used to be common as dirt and women loved having them too.

This is not, strictly speaking, accurate.

The Vital Statistics folks (originally at the Census, and now with the CDC) stopped making a new column for births past #17 in 1959. The next year, in 1960, while still in what came to be called the Baby Boom, they stopped doing new columns for births above #8. And the Vital Statistics people are very conservative about these things. They were cheerfully making columns for 312 16th births for years. But 312 out of 4 million or so births a year is a really tiny number and eventually even they just started mushing all those ten and twelfth and seventeenth births together.

The point being that thousands of double digit births can still be happening, but still also be not common as dirt. Pesky math.

The other poke at the bubble for now is that as soon as American women got birth control access, they mysteriously rushed as far away from double digit family sizes as they could. Eight was very much enough, thanks, and keeping births down to six or less was nicer still, as far as white American women were concerned. There is some amusing (for a personal value of amusing) commentary in many of the annual bulletins expressing statistician puzzlement at the plunge in 8 and up births among white women about twenty seconds after the first shipload of diaphragms washed ashore. And while access came decades later for black women, they behaved exactly the same and kablooey went the higher order black birth numbers too.

This is not the behavior of women who looooooved having ten or fifteen kids. It’s also not really much to do with feminists or feminism except that they felt the solution to male sexual incontinence was to have women end run around it with birth control of ever-increasing reliability.

Hypocrisy does make women’s work harder

This meme has apparently been making the rounds of conservative mom town.

Which is great news, because it means people are beginning to Notice things. (h/t to Steve Sailer for that usage.)

But someone who has a relative living in, helping out domestically disagreed with the meme and further tossed out the usual cant about dishwashers and such in the comments to the disagreement-post.

The response is, in fact, hypocritical.  It’s not unusual among a lot of (often but not only male) conservatives when it comes to these matters of what women need to have a properly ordered domestic space.  They have some kind of support (NOT limited to the children), typically from relatives, but sometimes from non-relatives, often unpaid, and they just conveniently don’t connect their wives’ or their own (if a woman) relatively better ability to manage with their access to real support while berating other people for their “snark” at starting to think about the obvious implications of demanding Proverbs 31 performance out of a woman without giving her a fraction of the resources such a woman had.

She did have domestic help, and if you have it too (especially if you have it in the form of love from relatives), owning up to how that helps your own household be more functional and provide for the children in said household is a sight more Biblically loving and encouraging than ignoring or downplaying your own riches while telling others they should just imagineer that the dishwasher is their BFF and woman up more.

This is not quite what I was thinking about regarding husbands and communities in a different discussion, but it’s in the wheelhouse.

Hedonic substitution and the myth of poor conservatives being middle class

Hedonic substitution in economics is buying ground beef instead of steak, or the Pinto instead of the Lambourghini.  People also engage in hedonic substitution.  It’s a hallmark of the conservative worldview.

Living in low quality housing, with one car in a car-centric society, eating a meatless or low protein diet, and yet all the while asserting that you’re middle class.  Homeschooling is often another hedonic substitution.  One hour once a week “co-op” is suddenly equivalent to 15k/kid/year private classical school and will definitely give you the same results.

It’s about telling people who have to substitute cheaper versions that they aren’t substituting at all but instead getting something for nothing because they’re just so smart and middle class.  And also not distinguishing between the people who can choose something else and thus aren’t operating on such tight margins.  The oft-cited (and mostly historical rather than current) statistics of children homeschooled by mere high school graduate mothers leave out how many of their fathers were engineers and STEM types.

While the median household income for married couples with under-18 kids is about six figures and has been even adjusted for inflation for decades, it’s still a median and a bunch of married folks with kids will end up on the low half of that median.  And instead of them being respectably poor or working class, they’re instead endlessly encouraged to engage in elaborate substitutes that cannot give the same result or benefit, but which would be superior if they weren’t being used as substitutes for something more expensive in time and/or money.

This approach also lets the higher-earning households avoid awkward social obligations and relationship building that used to be present even in individualist America out of a combination of ingrained habit and necessity.

The Poison Red Pill, Misreading Proverbs 31 and promoting isolation as virtue.

To begin this series, I’ll start with discussing a post by someone blogging as “Girl with a Dragonfly Tattoo”.  It’s part of some interminable series on Proverbs 31, the love of Christian women everywhere.  I love the Proverbs 31 wife too, she’s a comfort and joy to read about along with all the other idealized portraits in the Bible.  It’s nice to see an ideal written up.  But it’s an ideal.  She’s not a real human woman like Miriam or Leah or even mother of God Mary.

Anyway, the basic overview is typical for Red Pill Women.  You’re supposed to get up super early, that part about servants is meaningless.  There’s of course no *real* obstacles to early rising, you just have to want to be holy enough!  She even references her mother as an early riser, because five year old children are great recordkeepers.

But more to my core points, she references *rich people who use stimulants and have paid staff* as her model for what housewives nursing and getting pregnant frequently should do to be more productive.  This is pretty typical of Red Pill Women.  They do the same thing the men they identify with do of hyperfocusing on a narrow group of privileged people as if they are the norm.  Only here SAHMs are supposed to behave like male executives on amphetamines who have wives, nannies and secretaries and personal assistants.  But the SAHM is NOT supposed to have those things, oh no!

Because a maid is “unimaginable luxury”.  Yes, in this TLDR; post about the Proverbs 31 wife, the OP conveniently declares the servant verses to be metaphorical, but the rising early verses to be worth charts and figures and paragraphs of hectoring.  But fifty bucks every other week so you can stay on top of the household cleaning more easily and have a little free time to try that getting up early?  UNIMAGINABLE LUXURY.  And clearly a teenage homeschooled girl coming over every other morning so you can be a little more rested on known busy days, well, that isn’t even in her blog post.  Even though teenaged nursemaids are a thing, historically.

Red Pill Women don’t appear to be aware there are any other women in the Bible except this one imaginary one and then they ignore the fact that she is a wealthy man’s wife and almost certainly the daughter of a wealthy man as well with her own dowered property/jewels/livestock.  The point of this fictional wife was to emphasize the rarity, the uncommonness.  Such a woman is supposed to be rarer than rubies, a beautiful ideal.  She isn’t supposed to have all her qualities peeled away and converted into exciting new ways to overwork married mothers of young children and deny them the historical levels of other-women support they used to have in the patriarchal days of yore.

I even agree with “Girl With A Dragonfly Tattoo” about the importance of sleep.  But you know what?  The average SAHM simply isn’t given the resources to get a full night’s sleep and “go to bed earlier” doesn’t work if you’re combining it with “do whatever your husband wants”.  A lot of men want to stay up late to relax.  You can read old books and see that this is just part of the beautiful sex differences men and women have.  Women used to be allowed to go on to bed on their own so that they could get some extra sleep.

But the Red Pill says that this would not be submissive, respectful, etc.  Essentially all the “tips” she suggests on how to get more sleep assume some or all of a husband who wants to go to bed early every night, kids who sleep well whether nursed or formula fed, kids widely spaced (4+ years apart), fewer than three kids, no special needs kids, a husband who doesn’t want to use electronics or television after hours, and the ability to have private areas to focus on self-care such as the basics of the female toilet and hygiene.  I can keep going, but my point is that under the current anti-social setup most housewives have, her tips and tricks *WILL NOT WORK* for months to years on end.  One bad sleeper can trigger responses in the female body that include phantom screaming or lowered ability to sleep deeply.

So she wants SAHMs to be as productive as executives functioning on very little sleep, but without their resources.  And yet if a woman does prioritize getting that sleep, she’s still somehow a badwife, since she chooses for her example of getting more sleep a woman who didn’t get up early to serve her husband and slept in instead.  Broad social norms are antimatter for Red Pill Women.  But they are the only way women can be protected enough to do their work and serve and love their husbands and families in a consistent way.

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.