How to bring back the economic component of the women’s sphere?

To a large extent, the retreat of women from their own discrete sphere is driven by the stripping of its economic components due to various technological factors.  The question for conservatives is how to seriously and meaningfully deal with this aspect of the traditional women’s sphere instead of declaring that it either doesn’t matter or is a solved problem since an individual woman can “work from home” for her family’s financial benefit in limited, specific, idiosyncratic instances.

It’s a tough nut to crack, not least because certain economic things women did that were compatible with the domestic sphere as they lost their traditional trades were themselves only viable options due to mass media that evolved from technological advances.  I’m speaking of the numerous housewives and stay-at-home daughters who wrote to support or supplement their families’ incomes, of course.  But the markets they sold into would not have existed without the very technological forces that led us to the atomized, isolated housewives of the latter 20th and now 21st century.  And it’s so hard to communicate the loss, and the sheer amount of income they were responsible for.

Anyway this is an open sticky post for suggestions and discussion.  Will probably update occasionally with relevant links or posts as I run into them.

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.  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.

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.


When right wing populism goes wrong, daycare edition

Over at the Washington Examiner, someone thinks that it’s right wing and populist to have mothers of young children working outside the home.  It’s a short article, so it follows below.  I’ve bolded the most questionable bits.


The Obama administration, according to Katharine Stevens in the Wall Street Journal, is paving the way for more regulation of child care. This seems like a great place for conservatives to fight for the interests of the poor and working class, against overbearing government.

In other words, it’s an opportunity for free­market populism.
The administration is pushing guidelines for who can get federal grants, but Stevens — who is a fellow
research fellow of mine at the American Enterprise Institute — worries that these grant guidelines are
a “Trojan horse bearing counterproductive requirements,” on early­childhood educators and daycare

These aren’t rules governing basic health and safety standards, like drinking water, cleanliness or
broken glass. Some are micromanaging: “cot placement” for daycare. Others are about requiring
credentialing — such as requiring preschool teachers to have bachelor’s degrees.

Some level of regulation of childcare and preschool is about requiring what parents would demand.
But at a certain point, it becomes excessive.
Excessive regulation of daycare and preschool mostly hurts the poor and working class. For one
thing, it makes daycare rarer and more expensive.

Some on the Left will respond and say, “well, let’s just subsidize them more.” That doesn’t address the
other problem: curbing work opportunities for women.
More importantly, unnecessary regulation and credentialing requirements take away from many
women the best way they could make money: at-­home daycare.
You don’t want moms sticking 15 kids in a tiny basement. You don’t want home daycare locations run
by human smugglers. But excessive regulation curbs employment options — and daycare options —
for lower­-income folks.

The bold portions are the most iffy bits of this ridiculous article.  Why does anyone want the poor and working class women working outside the home?  That is, as I’ve recently noted, a way of subsidizing consumerism all by itself.  And note the obsession with “work opportunities” for women at home with their kids already, because the domestic sphere itself is, you know, not worth anything for its own sake.  It’s just a storage space for all those future cubicle warriors and retail cogs.

And this is from a super right wing media outlet!  It’s just another brick in the “free-market” wall.  It’s not right wing or conservative to keep doubling down on shoving everyone out into the artificial, inhuman modern workforce.  It’s also not populist to only support mothers if they generate income explicitly.  Can mothers earn income at home with their kids?  Sure, that’s certainly an option.  But should women be pressured into it at the expense of preserving and encouraging a real domestic sphere?  This conservative housewife would say absolutely not.  Someday, maybe, the rest of the right will too.

What not to do when promoting traditional gender roles

Just stop giving fodder to feminist and leftist critics.  It’s not true that men are the only ones who came up with anything useful ever.  It’s easily disprovable and where it’s not, there isn’t any data at all because we’re talking prehistory anyhow.  Further, this whole presentation of women as useless except presumably for teh babies  is Pashtun, not Western Christian Patriarchal.  Patriarchies that like women and think they’re groovy are the ones that find it easier to build excess wealth for the community.  If you really believe women have this role to submit to and serve men, they can’t be properly effective in that role without being taken seriously as fully human, fully realized beings.

The first post I linked to is trying to debunk the idea of the “strong independent woman”, but it does so by reducing women to useless appendices incapable of bringing any value to, well, existence.  Except of course having babies.  It veers well into the exact kind of transactional mentality that feminists love to claim proves All Conservatives Are Like That.  It’s not even a Christian view of male and female roles.  It’s exaggerated, demonstrably false and just an excuse to be petty and mean to what end I knoweth not.  Normal men like women and normal women aren’t caught up in some idea that they are particularly independent in the first place.  Normal women have zero problem accepting that they exist as part of a community.

The second link is someone talking a very little about the Pew data on SAHMs but mostly ranting about how housewives are useless eaters and glorying in how A Man He Knows Did It Better Anyhow.

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 there’s no need to dismiss the contributions of women and play into the feminist frame that supporters of traditional gender roles he-man woman-hate.  Let’s stop socially constructing marriage and traditionally oriented gender roles stupidly.  Separate from the feminist-fodder issue, it just scares off normal women who would otherwise delight in the chance to tend the hearth and home and in other, subtler ways contribute to the upkeep of their communities and villages.

ETA: Apparently Mr. Pashtun Impersonator wrote an angry angerson screed that I missed when this first went up, lol.

Modern SAHMs have acedia, not laziness.

There is plenty of bashing of modern women seeking to be SAHMs as lazy, but acedia is a spiritual problem.  It is a corruption of the soul so deep that effort itself is nearly impossible.  It’s clinical depression of the soul.

The woman in that link above turns to Ma Ingalls as inspiration and dismisses modern women as wimpy and pathetic (how very Titus 2 and loving, that).  She ignores that Ma Ingalls married poorly, to a man that kept the family on the move because he was a claim jumper and illegal squatter with “itchy feet”.  The overly common thing in conservative SAHM circles of fixating on Ma Ingalls as a sort of secular saint of housewifery ignores how much of her brave homemaking was the result of less than optimal decisionmaking on her part.

She made bad choices and she wasn’t the only one who paid for that.  Conservatives now forget that the pioneers were driven by greed, not godliness.  They were very isolated because the more land you staked out, the more potential wealth you could acquire.  They actively rejected community for a sort of get rich (kinda) quick scheming.  This is all readily available from writing around the time (Willa Cather is not a bad place to start at all), and yet for all the claims of being able to educate themselves independently, women such as the one in that fairly cruel post seem quite ignorant about the actual lived realities of the pioneers, rather than the interesting and more romantic version Mama Wilder and daughter put together decades after the fact.

This ignorance leads them to not recognize the real problem of the modern SAHMs– acedia, that spiritual depression that cripples.  Instead they demand that women “toughen up”, “man up”, “burnout is not an option” and other ridiculous and unholy nonsense.

We are all weak.  Acedia is a plague in modern life for those who try to step outside it to live normally.  It is crippling precisely because to callous others it looks like “laziness” or “sloth”, but it’s a spiritual hurt that makes it extremely difficult to perform one’s duties.  Screeching about how Ma Ingalls something something doesn’t make acedia’s impact less, it compounds the despair that corrodes a mother struggling to stay awake to fix breakfast after a night of constant wakeups from infants and toddlers, reeling with chronic sleep deprivation and knowing that she’s soooo blessed, and her job is really super easy, she’s just not tough enough to presumably beat her infants into 12 hour or permanent slumber like the good pioneer wives did (ever wonder why infant mortality was so high on the frontier?  It wasn’t Indians!)

We have come to a strange place in time where something that used to be considered a problem of the cloistered life is now very often a problem for SAHMs struggling to restore the hestia with little support even from other SAHMs.  But these women are not lazy and those of us with energy enough to blog who also SAHM have to not succumb to cruelty born itself from despair and unacknowledged acedia.  We must continue to pour out prayer, gentleness and care for the Christian SAHMs who are isolated and alone and who barely have energy or time for more than a hurried blog comment before they resume the struggle of managing kids and house with little in the way of money, resources or genuine support from family and community.

Beating them up doesn’t kill acedia.  Charity does.  I hope more blogging SAHMs can be charitable to their sisters in this domestic sphere who are battling a great spiritual evil and aren’t lazy wimps at all.

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.