The Little House on the Prairie and its autonomous mamas.

This is kind of an overview of the Little House On the Prairie books, hereafter LHOTP, as is common when discussing them online.  I recently read the original eight book series and it was truly astonishing how much autonomy and independence Laura’s mother and Almanzo’s mother had.

There is a fascinating phenomenon in which this cultural bedrock of Americana is being transmitted solely through (mostly Frontier-American) women and Frontier-American men are basically ignorant of a major piece of where their women’s beliefs about home and family are coming from.

So Ma and Mother are these women who have a huge span of responsibility and authority, along with far above average native talent and skills in the homemaking arts of their eras, but this has not become codified as any sort of serious norm for housewives/SAHMs.  Caroline Ingalls was a truly astonishing cook, with a high level of natural understanding of chemistry and plants to be able to cook on an unreliable stove with inconsistent heat and a nearly random selection of ingredients sprung on her at any point in time.  She was also a truly above average hand sewer.  Mrs. Wilder was a weaver and a food processor extraordinaire, whose skill with cloth and butter making accounted for much of that family’s cash income and nearly all their clothing and linens.

And Mrs. Wilder’s workspace is arranged and designed to suit her, so she can be the most highly productive she can be for her family.  Almanzo’s child’s eyes view of her weaving room is very insightful, you see a little boy who expects a grown woman to have her own separate space that Father doesn’t have any input into, beyond making it to her specifications.  You see a little of this in how Almanzo sets up the house for Laura when they marry.  He assumes it’s important for her to have things set up so she can be as effective/efficient as possible.

This was actually an interesting subtheme in a lot of early 20th century writing, because men were still building a lot of the houses directly and the whole notion that you needed to make the wife-offices, so to speak, tailored to your own wife’s skills was one that crops up in a lot of the women’s writing of those early decades.  Like, you were supposed to get a spec list out of her and then make it happen.

It’s interesting that the Frontier-American subcultures who are most into LHOTP as a world and worldview tend to not allow the wives and daughters and sisters the sort of free hand that was clearly not at all outside the norms of the era (late 19th century).  There are a number of reasons for this, not least of which is the desire to believe there is no skill in domestic arts precisely because of the increasing arrival of mechanization and automation.

A lot of other things about LHOTP struck me as I was reading, but this one, that the two main mamas were badasterisk but also very lightly headed by (some) modern standards despite not at all being psychically of one accord with their husband’s desires and wishes was one of the bigger ones.

 

Leftism and liberalism are sociopathic ways to talk about real and obvious truths

What it says on the tin.

One of my favorite bloggers is Zippy Catholic, who is fond of saying that many problems of liberalism can be explained as sociopathic manifestations of reality pushing through.  That is, liberalism may be ideologically confused and contradictory, especially the form known as leftism, but all this means is that it treats normal things sociopathically.

We can see this with leftism and its extremist views on race, sex, family and so forth.  Clan and kin matter, who you are and where you come from matter, but leftists are sociopathic about this obvious set of truths.  They say clan and kin don’t matter while making very sure to save some job slots for their own children, spouses and fellow travelers.  Racial and even ethnic groups where everyone’s the same skin color are different in behavior and preferred hobbies and forms of government and civilization (towns, villages, etc.)  Again, an obvious truth, but leftists go all sociopathic on it by pretending those differences are trivial while demanding everyone behave like specific subcultures of white ethnic leftists in a handful of Anglo-descended nations (aka, the sociopathy of the SWPL).

We can also see this with women and politics. Women pursue politics as a response to the ways that industrialization and mass society scale larger and larger, peeling away the roles they would otherwise have.  Liberalism sociopathically encourages women to pursue political solutions to their social problems, while stripping more and more traditional roles and protections away from them.

I think this is a key major point in having a normal society and a properly ordered hestia, understanding that sociopathic (anti-social, perverse, distorted) descriptions of real things are still describing real things that should be preserved.  We should care about clan and kin.  We should want women to be productive and happy in their home-focused spheres, with exceptional women being treated as just that.  We should want men to be able to lead and support their families and have masculine spheres for the men (including but not limited to holy spheres, as not all are called to such lives) who are not married.  The American conservative “colorblind” “patriotic” thing is frail and unnatural and doesn’t cut to the heart of why people are so alone and disordered.  Some of the wacky hijinks of the leftists do, though, under all the rhetorical tricks and misdirection.

 

Chesterton’s wife had nurserymaids and other domestic help

Mr. Price over at the Spearhead discovers some wise words of Chesterton’s regarding how women turn being at the job into a sad caricature of the domestic sphere, but Price misses the servant-shaped elephant in the room.  

Chesterton is a great favorite of internet conservatives, particularly (though not in this case) internet traditional distributist-loving Catholics.  But the man didn’t go live the agrarian distributist fantasy he spoke so eloquently about, and his wife certainly didn’t tenderly raise their passel of lovely children by herself.

This doesn’t mean Chesterton wasn’t brilliant and amazing, but it does call into question why people like to refer to old anti-feminist writings written by men whose wives had full domestic staffs (and less often, women who relied on having staff to have leisure to write for hours at all) when that would tell you something fairly important about what conditions are necessary to restore or reinvigorate middle class domesticity.

 

Regulations on cottage industries are anti-woman, and especially anti-mother

Male dominated cottage industries almost never have their regulations enforced. Enforcement only comes down on female-dominated cottage industries, which are further dominated by mothers trying to earn extra money without having to spend all day outside the home.

Take a little time and think about if you can ever recall an article about shade-tree mechanics being aggressively targeted and pushed out of business.  One can’t even find much in the way of such mechanics being harassed by HOA boards either.

But hair braiding, homemade foods, in-house sewing, and other small-scale cottage activities are routinely regulated and prosecuted with a strictness that is astonishing not least because it has nothing to do with safety, health or even tax revenue.

It does have more than a little to do with women who don’t like being in their homes wanting to keep other women from doing so. It also has more than a little to do with denying women any opportunity to be economically productive at home in an explicit way.

This even extends to the massive grey and black market of women providing under-market wage childcare and daycare, where the regulatory environment and political pressure is all arranged to promote center-based daycare as the only childcare option.  Of course that is some posts by itself, definitely.

The housewife doesn’t have to be a consumption good.  We could have domestic economy in a post-industrial society.

Real Talk for SAHMs: SAHMs who aren’t morning people aren’t lazy, chronotypes are real

The tyranny of the morning people has got to end.  Traditionally, mostly servants got up early.  Now it’s high status UMC types and their aspirational fans (i.e. most of the rest of American society).

SAHMs frequently act like just getting up earlier is the solution to any difficulties with prayer time, exercising, or arranging the day.  It is a recurrent theme.  I think the earliest I’ve seen or been told offline is to get up at 3am, though 4-6am is the typical range, usually 4-5am.  Which is feasible for a morning person, even through lots of kid wakeups.  Not so much for people with a different chronotype who don’t physically get tired before 10pm.

Wiki says that morning types don’t necessarily predominate, but in American culture they have taken the moral superiority reins and galloped right off with them.  There has been and continues to be a general tenor in American culture that early rising is morally better.  Someone could probably write a monograph connecting it up to the inherent consumption mentality that has ever dominated American society even before the Industrial Revolution.  They could also throw in some anti-Scandinavian polemic.  Thorstein Veblen is the spiritual grampa of overwork as a form of consumption behavior instead of bling.  He wasn’t the only one (there were some Scandinavian ladies behind it too), but his name is probably the most recognizable.  Overwork as consumption good is part of the tyranny of the morning people.

Repeatedly, morning people tend to act like it’s either getting up at 5am or sleeping until noon, and that obviously nobody should pick the latter choice.  The idea that chronotypes occur along a continuum and that even late-night types might well be able to “do mornings”, just at 9am instead of 6am, is utterly alien and threatening to a surprising number of morning people.  They place a stupendous amount of personal value on being up really really early and if other people are up later in the day and still have clean houses and functional kids and regular prayer lives, then maybe being up at 4am isn’t the one true path to holiness and merit.  It’s especially bad in the SAHM world, because the domestic sphere is so totally unvalued that it sometimes just might take a 14 hour day to actually get anything done effectively since the support is mostly in name only.

But chronotypes are real.  And valuing the domestic sphere for its own sake rather than declaring women who aren’t morning people lazy/selfish/spoiled/ungrateful would allow more private households to be functional no matter what time of day the lady of the house arose.  The Proverbs 31 wife is an ideal, not a literal woman.  Also, a lot of cultures have midday nap traditions for a reason, even if they are agrarian and the master and mistress have to pop up at 4am.

 

It’s not denigrating your husband to have help that’s not him

One of the most saddening examples of the atomization that marks conservative aping of what they believe to be traditional living is the idea that if your husband helps out to any significant degree, you should just fall over yourself in abject relief and never consider any other members of your larger community for help/support.

So women who are being totally failed by their neighbors, church members, friends and relatives ignore this in favor of declaring that asking for help beyond ‘husband does lots more housework and childcare’ means you’re denigrating your husband and failing Christian wiving 4eva.

This was brought to you by a very upsetting series of posts by a conservative bloggess where she disregarded medical advice for bedrest as stupid because her husband couldn’t take an infinite number of days off work, because obviously nobody else could possibly help out a heavily pregnant woman with a bunch of kids under age 8.

The idea that your husband should be your sisterwife and also work the full time job that pays for everything is in fact destroying the ability of families to live normal lives.  This isn’t to say that men can’t change a diaper, it’s to say that husbands and wives aren’t an island, or shouldn’t be.

Reasonable community standards are functional community standards

Pre-60s housewives were generally NOT expected to cough up fresh bread daily, or gourmet meals three times a day.  They were also not expected to keep a very large home spotless whilst mincing about in heels and pearls.  The community standards for what a housewife was supposed to do were actually pretty minimal and attainable for even relatively brokedown women.

A simple (truly simple) dish of meat/eggs/fish, a starch and one or two spices was considered completely decent and good enough.  Needless to say, this is no longer true, particularly among conservative SAHMs, who tend to be most driven towards expectation inflation in the matters of domesticity for various reasons I’ve either already covered or will the next time I read through old posts to note allusions I haven’t written up yet.

One of the reasons Mormons are still functionally conservative in many respects is that they remember that you can’t keep up appearances if the appearances are very complex and detailed.  People sometimes make cracks about how Mom wouldn’t let them mess up the ‘parlor for company’, but this dramatically slashed the ongoing cleaning burden and made for an attainable cross-class and cross-income and cross-racial set of housewiving standards that average to slightly dim women could manage with a little elbow grease.

Conservatives, if they want normal life restored, have to remember that broad-based community standards must consider all God’s children and be minimal without being token.  It can be a fine line to navigate, but we have so much tradition from so many of the cultures that infuse American identity to draw upon in shaping those simple, reachable goals.

But it can be hard when Walter Mitty syndrome is rampant.