A commenter this morning asked me to write an apology for “patriarchy,” and this I did, albeit with considerable misgiving. My misgiving springs from the knowledge than such requests are, as often as not, simply fishing for evidence of deplorable moral turpitude in the apologist. But I decided to accept “Emma’s” question as sincere, and so in this case “took the bait.” After reading our exchange, T. Morris suggested that I promote it to a post.
Here is what Emma wrote in her comment.
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Hi, this is irrelevant to the topic you were posting, but I wanted to know what you are advocating for in relation to patriarchy. I would appreciate a response.
Women not voting
Limiting women’s access to university and employment
Legalised forced sex in marriage and moderate physical chastisement
I think that you call this marriage 1.0, I would like to ask what advantage marriage 1.0 offers women? If women are able to financially support themselves then why would they sell themselves and give up their rights to their husbands for food, shelter and clothing? Did this arrangement not only make sense in an agrarian society rather than a post industrial society where women can financially support themselves? I don’t view matriarchy favourably but I’m not inclined to view this as favourable either.
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Here is what I wrote in answer to “Emma’s” questions.
I’m not sure why you expect me to answer admittedly irrelevant questions, or why you have singled me out to defend “marriage 1.0,” but I’ll try to be nicer to you than you are probably being to me. “Patriarchy” is a pejorative term that feminists use to conflate and vilify everything that is not feminism, very much like “capitalism” is a pejorative term that communists use to conflate and vilify everything that is not communism. Such terms are political slogans, and are therefore unsuited to calm and impartial debate.
If I were to give “patriarchy” a formal definition, it would be that the husband is the “head” of the family. It is possible to advocate this principle and yet disapprove of any number of abuses of male primacy. The best defense of male headship that I know has three parts: (1) A democracy of two has no way to break tied votes; (2) the male bond to his children is naturally weaker, but is strengthened by authority; (3) the female personality is, on average, less suited to just exercise of authority. None of this implies that the male is a tyrant or an autocrat.
I won’t answer all of your questions, but will take a stab at a few of them. Contrary to what the feminists tell you, coverture existed for the protection of women, not their subjugation. Coverture states which male has the responsibility to protect a female when another male attacks her virtue or her assets. Since coverture is not clouded with a sentimental understanding of the female, it understands that protecting a female from attack by other males requires control over the behavior of that female. If I have a legal responsibility to protect you from rape, then I must have a legal right to forbid you to go joyriding with a bunch of boys.
In my view, the aim of politics should be good policy. It should not be bad policy enacted by a system that is desirable for some other reason, such as fairness or equality. Thus I judge rules of franchise by their policy outcomes, not by the abstract principles with which they are justified. If women’s suffrage had not affected policy outcomes, it would have been superfluous. But it has affected policy outcomes, and I believe in increasingly negative ways. I don’t think female suffrage can be reversed, or that it could have been stopped. All democracies tend to universal franchise and collapse.
Contraception, university and employment can be bundled into the phenomenon of the sterile spinster. There have always been sterile spinsters, and society has always provided a place for them, but our regime of contraception, university and employment is causing an overproduction of sterile spinsters. Many of these sterile spinsters are unhappy and spiteful, and society is in many cases poorer for want of the children they did not have.
There is a great deal of territory between what you describe as “legalized forced sex” and what I daresay you might describe as “marital rape.” A decent person can say that there can be no such thing as marital rape, and yet deplore brutal “forced sex” in marriage. But this does raise important questions. The argument that there can be no such thing as marital rape rests on the principle that the marriage vow is a public attestation of permanent consent. Very few husbands take this to mean that their wives must strip down and service them on command. But what is a husband to do if his wife permanently withdraws consent, particularly if she does this early in the marriage?
My personal philosophy is to stay out of other people’s marriages, and to comment on those marriages only reluctantly and when asked. I know of apparently successful marriages in which the woman “wears the pants,” and I have no inclination to interfere with these arrangements. I know of sterile spinsters who are happy and well-adjusted. I know of women who cast their votes more wisely than I do. But my general observation is that feminism leads to unhappiness and social disfunction, and that society should therefore uphold humane “patriarchy” as the norm.