The Poison Red Pill, Mother-in-law edition

One of the reasons I am no fan of “Red Pill Women” is their blithe disregard for historical social norms around family relationships while claiming to have rediscovered “Red Pill Truths”.

This post is a case in point.  My responses are in bold

A friend of mine lives with her son, daughter in law, and their two kids aged 4 and the younger is 8 months, both boys. They have the average blue pill life going, and while they are frantically trying harder and harder to work the script, it’s just not working.

They both have better than average jobs. They live in a ritzy neighborhood in a brand new house they just built. They drive brand new cars, wear name brand everything, and from all outside appearances they are a success. Living the American dream.

Except it’s really a house of cards. The couple spends every penny they have and then some. They are fortunate to have my friend living there and taking care of the kids, the cooking, and the cleaning in exchange for room and board because if they did not have that, they would be thousands even more underwater a month than they are.

The blogger “Red Pill Girl” (who is in her 40s) is friends with a mother in law (husband’s mother) who is serving as full time live in household help.  This is important.

Despite this they are busy spending, spending, spending anyway. Planning a two week vacation to Hawaii. Buying a boat. Impressing their friends with their latest and greatest aquisitions.

But the cracks are beginning to show. He confessed to his mother that he hates his life, feels trapped, wants to run away to Hawaii and leave it all behind. He’s even hinted at suicidal thoughts, feeling he is in over his head and despite working 60 hours a week, just can’t get ahead.

This is a classic unhealthy dynamic between an adult son and his mother.  This kind of thing isn’t supposed to be for your mother once you’re a married man.  There used to be broad social norms about how this was inappropriate for his mother to dish to her friend “Red Pill Girl” that Red Pill Girl would have been very aware of and nipped in the bud.

His wife shows little interest in her children, leaving the majority of their care to her mother in law. She pops pain pills and laxatives and despite being rail thin worries that she’s fat. She’s constantly going to doctors, insisting something is wrong, but they can’t seem to figure it out. (I wonder if she tells them about the pills? That may be the problem…) She works in a medical office as an assistant, but she says she wants to do something else, from home, but she doesn’t know what or take any steps to make it happen.

We are not told how interested the wife was in having her husband’s mother move in and take a role as a backup wife, but Red Pill Girl is very quick to note the wife’s lack of child caring as a negative, along with presenting her hypochondria in a negative light and not at all connecting it with the fact that the mother in law does everything house-related, making a point to leave absolutely nothing to her son’s wife except fretfulness and discontent.  The wife is in a bind.  If she’s at home too, what’s the utility for mother in law now?  As long as mother in law makes wife feel constantly insecure and desperate for identity via work, she can continue to be the main woman in her son’s life.  Notice that mother in law makes no suggestions or offers support to getting wife into a work at home position.  And mother in law apparently is too busy talking smack about her son’s wife to her friend to include the wife in the running of the household.

Yesterday, a box arrives in the mail from Blue Apron. Despite the fact that my friend is a gourmet cook who makes everything from scratch, even putting entire meals together ready to just put in the oven and bake, the daughter-in-law decides what they really “need” to make life worth is this dinner in a box that all her friends are doing.

I suppose it’s convenient, it all comes packed together, just what you need, ready to assemble into a “home cooked” meal. But that convenience is expensive, about $40 a day and she’s signed up to get 6 dinners a week. The amount of packaging is another issue, there is an incredible amount of waste associated with keeping all the fresh ingredients cold and protected in transit. All that — trash.

Gee, the wife desperately flails at something she can do for her family that mother in law can’t and isn’t familiar with and she still gets sneered at for doing “what her friends are doing”…by her mother in law’s friend.  Hm.  Interesting.  Also note the complaints about expense when both parents work outside the home and don’t have free time, just income and credit access.  And a mother in law very set on maintaining her role as the household manager and lady of the house instead of the actual lady of the house.

I would predict this couple will soon crash head first into some serious financial problems, and their marriage likely will not survive. Another broken family, thanks to the blue pill. I hope not but all signs say they are hell bent on barreling down this path right toward their doom. Sad.

My friend advised her son, “Finish the landscaping around the house and then SELL IT. Get out from under all this mess and live a simpler life and be happy.”

I hope he listens….

The reason I picked this tale of a dishy, manipulative mother in law to discuss the problems with Red Pill thinking is that this entire post is presented to us by the mother in law’s friend as *#(%@)%)% “Blue Pill Problems”.  What colored pills have to do with your mother in law moving in and taking over your house is apparently not on the radar of this Red Pill Woman.  That is, this has very little to do with sexual dynamics of the normal sort.  And in times past, let’s call them Blue Pill days of yore, what this mother in law was doing to undermine the household and marriage would be considered socially unacceptable and she would be judged poorly for it by other women, not lauded as some kind of saint.  

What’s going on here is well known as a mother-in-law problem and there are several different approaches by culture for dealing with pushy and domineering mother in laws, but when one is blinded by the poison of Red Pill thinking, it’s impossible to see the actual problems that family has (as presented in this post from a third party) and instead it all becomes about how the husband is too beta and the wife just isn’t submitting enough.  Which is not quite what the problem is there.  

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If the Christian manosphere wants wives, they should be nicer to middle aged married women

Despite the generally hilarious claims of the manosphere’s Christian rump to be interested in traditional sex roles and traditional understandings of marriage and authority, they ignore the obvious traditions when those traditions mean some woman somewhere might have actual social status and a respected position in her community beyond being a wife or a mother.  They write endless screeds on marriage readiness as a sort of role playing game where it’s just a matter of hitting some benchmarks with “the current girl” enough times and you’ll get to the final boss fight (wedding ceremony) of Marriage: The Quest for a Purest of Pure Godly Submissive But Also Hardbodied Wife.  Or they write about finding a wife as though it’s about sifting through character traits like a basket of costumes, wearing only the ones “women care about the most”.

Left out of all this, of course, is going to the conservative Christian women who are most likely to be swimming in under 25, chaste, often Christian young women who want to marry and be housewives.  That is middle aged women in their 30s and 40s.  Older such women usually have all the kids out of the house and are mostly around career types or caring for their relatives’ kids.  Younger such women are swimming in very young kids of their own or working.  But women in their 30s and 40s usually have at minimum stuff like the teachers and administrators of their childrens’ activities and school (yes, even homeschooling women) or their own teenagers/young 20somethings heading into marriageable age range.  Some also have the (usually young) women who help out around the house and/or younger female relatives who really like children enough to buck social norms and hang out with them a lot.

Middle aged married women used to serve as a bridge between young single men and young single women, gently and sometimes not so gently guiding compatible personalities towards each other even in ye olde times when marriage was supposedly never about romantic attachment, just babies and property.  And yet, those women are no longer treated as valuable assets in the quest for a wife by young Christian men.  The Christian manosphere is just jerky and disrespectful about it rather than oblivious.  As a result, even though many middle aged married women are still able to have acquaintance with young marriageable women, they don’t get any opportunities to revive the old traditions of guiding and matchmaking compatible young people towards a clear marriage path (no long engagements, as one example).

In a legitimately Christian patriarchal social structure, married women have real social power as a result of being married women.  This is something the Christian manosphere doesn’t get about the realities of Christian patriarchy.  Non-Christian patriarchy can be this way, but needless to say, women have more freedom in Christ and that extends to their roles in a patriarchal system too.  One of the ways you can tell the manosphere talk about restoring traditional sex roles is not “sex realism” is that they don’t believe that the state of being married confers real status on a woman.  They believe the status conferred is just stuff in her silly female brain, that the only real status accrues to men.  This is a lot of things, but it’s not very traditional for Western Christian societies.

Even in our deracinated, atomized society, middle aged married women are the ones who are around the kind of teenaged and 20something young women who still want marriage and babies and staying home with them more than any other group of people and therefore the fact that nobody knocks on middle aged married womens’ doors offering to help them throw parties and social events to bring together young singles in a neutral but emotionally complex setting that allow for getting to know someone’s personality and attitude (they don’t) is part of why the Christian marriage situation is so dire for men and women alike.

A third, not sex-focused way to consider a wife’s body changes due to fertility and age

When it comes to conservative Christian chat about how to approach a wife’s body changes due to fertility and age, there are two common branches that suffer from being too sex-focused.

One is when (usually) women talk about staying slim/skinny/fit (sex focused).

The other is when (usually) men talk about how wifey will be friskier as a result of the hormonal and physical changes (obvs. sex focused).

But it is love in wartime.  The changes are something greater.  Women become completely different women. Their very skeletons change, widening in the shoulders and ribcage.  There is so much more change than just the lowering and widening of hips that most people think of as a result of bearing children. Many women change body type from pear to hourglass, or hourglass to apple, etc. Many times these changes are permanent, which is truly fascinating.

One can see it as one of the ways that two becoming one is revealed.  The wife’s very body changes in response to the challenges of marriage, motherhood and age.  The marriage bond itself remakes her flesh and bones.

It’s just another way to consider and cherish.  Just a thought.

Peasant women find decent men attractive

Women with a peasant’s (or aristocrat’s if they come from that background) mentality find PUAs and most of the “game” playbook unsexy because it represents disloyalty and “feral” instability. Women who find loyalty and devotion to kin attractive don’t find a steady guy who takes his commitments to family and friends seriously to be unattractive. They marry those guys and it’s not settling because it’s precisely what they want in a man. And they tend to marry those guys before 30 (even in UMCland).

What I am wondering, though, is how common is that mentality among women these days? It seems like women up and down the class ladder don’t want to marry. The “white picket fence” perfection requirement is a sign that they aren’t really interested. There is something to the idea that some women are too prideful to marry. At least with some Christian women, they think they have to give up everything they think of as agency to marry even though they can usually see this isn’t true among the married women near them.

And I’ve come over the years to understand that some women don’t find loyalty in men unsexy– they find it threatening, as if his loyalty is a commentary on their life and moral fiber. So the idea that modern women are “feral” and “chasing tingles” misses a lot of the reasons why women aren’t marrying, particularly Christian women.

I refer to peasant (or very far up the class tree, aristocrat) mentality because a woman with that mindset doesn’t have a self-image that focuses on self-as-individual.  She defines herself in terms of her own kin and ethny and patrimony (where such exists).  She might join with another people through outmarriage to someone from another ethny, but she doesn’t think of the choice in individualist terms.  So unlike the meme that has infiltrated all the way into the mainstream right-wing of conservativeland, peasant women aren’t thrilled by violence with no point, by men with no loyalties and attachments beyond the next moment, by unstable sterility marketing itself as dangerous. Such women don’t like danger, they find devotion and demonstrations of loyalty to the right things (church, family, friends) to be what they want in a man.  They might well be blind to some men, but these are the women who are blind to feral men.

This is repurposed from a starter comment about some other stuff entirely and was inspired further by yet another manosphere blog post about the ferality of women as though it was in fact purely natural and not an artifact of prosperity.  I question that because it simply doesn’t make sense or match up with observed reality.

But then again, how many women are ok with hearing they have a peasant mentality?  It’s not all good.  Such a high level of risk aversion can sometimes make it hard to seize opportunities when they appear.  Still, I do wonder if it doesn’t still represent a substantial minority of women.  One can hope.

Young marriage isn’t very traditional

It’s a prosperity artifact that has occurred in a handful of short-lived bursts of prosperity and then things go back to normal.  It is a fine thing to support and encourage as a conservative, but it can’t be advocated in a vacuum that presumes it is a historical norm.  The historical norm is to marry when it’s affordable, which was usually not when the girl was sixteen and the guy eighteen.  It was gasp when the girl was in her mid-20s and the guy a little older.

Funny how it’s now sooooo impossible for guys to wait until their mid-20s to marry for life and girls are dooming themselves to a river of cats and despair if they wait until after age 22 but in reality-land, it was always perfectly traditional and people found ways to deal with the lack of sex until marriage.  This mostly consisted of not having sex.  Shocking, I know.  It’s quite interesting that conservatives and liberals come together as one voice to declare that continence is impossible for humans, simply can’t be done, can’t expect it of anyone, so don’t even try.

The truth is that young marriage, if truly widespread, carries with it a higher risk of dissolution even when divorce isn’t “easy”.  All are not called to marry and conservatives really need to get back to accepting that reality and recognize just how much social pressure is necessary to prop up widespread marriage of young couples who are not necessarily fit for the institution.

Marriage is a social good, but you can have a society where 40-60% of people marry and you can have one where 75-85% of people marry, but the latter will have certain instabilities despite all the marriage that the former will not.  With the current economic and social turmoil and relentless promotion of abnormal things as normal, it’s difficult to understand the push for young marriage with no real social support or financial/economic support by conservatives all along the right-wing spectrum, from mainstream to odd internet subculture.

Marriage is traditional.  Young marriage is a nice to have, not a requirement for a normal society.

Real Talk for SAHMs: Be honest about the economic fragility of marriage as a career

This one is going to be a quick list of brief points because each small point could easily be a post of its own (and probably will be a few months down the road).

Simply put, it is wrong for conservatives to encourage young naive Christian women to marry and set up as SAHMs without any understanding of the financial issues involved.  What follows are just a few of the big deals that conservatives ignore when they say things like “avoid college, girls!” and “marry young and stay home and have kids, so long as he has a job!”

  • No paying into Social Security.  Housewives are protected if the marriage lasts, for as long as it lasts.  But if it does not, well, now that SAHM is out of luck and at best dependent on her adult children and church/local community.  And that is also not nearly as common as it ought to be, just as divorce/abandonment of conservative Christian SAHMs is not as rare as one would like.
  • Risk of outliving husband (all states).  This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but having no ability to earn a living and a husband who doesn’t have a pension means big problems when his steady paycheck or his own Social Security check disappears because he’s dead.  This is further compounded by the pressure of some conservative subcultures to have men be self-employed without bothering to explain the financial ramifications of that choice.
  • General risk of divorce/abandonment at all (varies by state).  This varies not least by whether a state is community property or not (and the difference is really, really, really important from a risk management perspective).  It also varies by what I note last, what kind of husband a woman ended up with.
  • Discouraging real vetting of husbands, which is what makes the divorce/abandonment problem an especially major one in the modern era.  By this I mean that women are encouraged to simply marry a man with a job who attends church regularly, regardless of whether he is disordered in important ways that can affect his ability to provide for and maintain a wife and children.  Mostly what is embedded here is a sort of residual expectation of paternalism/tolerance of flaws towards a “hardworking family man” that simply does not exist anymore as some sort of widespread norm in workplaces.  Women can’t afford to SAHM with a guy who is constantly getting fired for anger problems just because maybe thirty years ago he would have been shunted off to a back office because “he’s got a family to support, man”.  They also are really in for it if they marry a “self-employed” man who bounces around from scam to scam, never really able to put together a real earnings path for his family.  And there is very little mention of this issue when conservatives promote early marriage and no college for young Christian women.

It is not easy street and financial security if you just marry at 19 and start having kids.  A lot of young and middle aged SAHMs are finding out the painful way that there are financial risks nobody warned them about and which nobody will help them with when they hit.

Some conservative family values, eh.

Embrace amity, reject the husband-wife relationship as the sole dyadic one

This is partly a response to a comment I got about a post on SAHM socialization that I didn’t let through because it commits an all too common error of conservative thought, which is that the husband-wife marital relationship is the only really important lifelong one to have.  The commenter literally could not see outside the husband-wife relationship in terms of social outlets for a married couple.  There was nothing else they could think of, if the husband couldn’t provide all in all, there was no other way for a SAHM to have social time with other adults.

The inherent lunacy of this position should be more obvious and yet it dominates many conservative subcultures.  It is partially an outgrowth of marriage-as-romantic-companionship, but it’s also an outgrowth of American atomization.  I have noticed this pattern quite often, when social outlets for SAHMs are brought up.  It’s defined solely in terms of the husband and wife hanging out with each other more.  The idea that the domestic sphere would be a social sphere, where women came together and had their girls’ days and evenings and outings *with each other in groups small and large* is so alien as to not even be understood by many conservatives.  It is a curious sort of historical ignorance.

Amity, by the way, is simply a way of talking about lifelong friendships as deep as Ruth and Naomi, or David and Jonathan, that can occur alongside a marriage or persist long after a marriage ends due to untimely death of a spouse.  Back when childbirth, wartime and infectious disease could shorten the duration of a marriage, amity was well accepted.  Now that marriages are not cut short by environmental factors but all too often by personal dissatisfaction, amity has fallen by the wayside and the marital relationship is supposed to be the sole lengthy adult one.

Needless to say, this doesn’t work so well in practice.  What I mean when I say that SAHMs need community support in their social outlets, is that other women with leisure have to start the ball rolling and open their homes and provide that woman to woman support.  Of course it’s hard, awkward and not easy to begin, the broad-based social capital of previous eras is gone, gone, gone and will not return.  All we have is the locally-based capital of smaller communities, and it will have to be the starting point.

It is not something to be left to husbands at all, really.  It is female labor, deeply important female labor.