Patriarchy? Paternalism?

The Sage of Knoxville has a column in USA Today that says that 'feminism works in the West because patriarchy is dead -- but it might not stay that way.' His point is that the fact of feminism shows that people care about the opinions of women, and even their more minor discomforts, and that this is a necessary condition of feminism existing at all. But this will all go away, he says, because of the admission of mass immigration from genuinely patriarchal nations, where women are subjugated and treated like dirt (or, rather, like women according to these cultures' lights).

We often speak of a government as acting in a fatherly capacity if it cares for the needs and concerns of its people. This concept is usually given as "Paternalism," rather than "Patriarchy," but actually they mean almost the same thing: both of them mean that fathers should lead, but the former word suggests that they should lead in the manner of fathers. It seems to me that Paternalism is exactly what left-leaning feminist usually want: they want a government that will take care of the needs of women in the way that a father should care for his daughters. He should provide for their medical care, for their birth control expenses, for the protection of their independence, and so forth. It's the Julia concept of what government is for.

One proof of this is the aggressive nature of feminist protesters. They clearly expect to be protected. Code Pink -- and, in Europe, Femen -- operates aggressively in complete faith that policemen or even just passersby will keep them from harm in spite of their provocations. It worked out well most times, except where Vladimir Putin (who had encountered them in 2013) sent a Cossack militia armed with whips to put down a similar protest at the Sochi Olympics in 2014. There's a patriarch for you.

You don't get that here, because we who consider ourselves men in the West are in favor of women leading decent lives. We take them seriously even where our interests strongly diverge, out of love. But we also hold them to certain standards, also out of love, because to violate those standards would be to fall.

So I don't think that feminism works in the West because 'leadership by fathers' is dead. I think it works because the leadership in the West is exercised in love. What Glenn Reynolds is advocating for is men-against-women, rather than men-for-women. What I think I'd like to see more of is women-for-men rather than women-against-men, and that combined with men-for-women. Speaking as a husband and father, that dynamic of friendship and reinforcement has been of tremendous importance to me.

Of course, I don't want a paternalistic government -- no more, and perhaps less, than a patriarchal one. It might be well, though, if our civil society better embodied the idea of love and friendship across the sex divide. We ought to take care of each other, and lift each other up.

6 comments:

Edith Hook said...

Sorry if I am off topic. I must walk to the beat of a different drummer; maybe it comes from looking at history through the lens of genealogy. I don't really know what feminists mean by patriarchy but when it comes up, I think patriarchy, schmatriarchy. Bah.
Before the availability of electricity, vaccines, and antibiotics, everyones' life pretty much sucked, if you weren't part of the top 2% or so, maybe even if you were. It seems to me that most people were just trying to get through the day; and that tragedy, grief, loss, and pain were always hanging over their shoulders.
The comforts and freedom that privileged western white women take for granted today aren't thanks to gasbag SJWs or government but rather to innovators and entrepreneurs most of whom were, uh oh, men. Although full credit to the WW1 nurses who recognized that wound packing material would be useful for feminine hygiene and the lady who invented wash and wear. The expansion of women's employment was as much a result of workplace technological changes, that relied on women's skill sets, as it was the export of or automation of traditional men's jobs.

Grim said...

I don't have a strict rule about staying on topic. We can talk about whatever you'd like to talk about. :)

That wound-packing thing came full circle in the Iraq/Afghan wars, when people realized that tampons were great to carry in your kit because they were sterile and shaped in just the right way to plug bullet holes. At the time it struck people as funny, but of course it made sense: as you say, that's where the stuff came from to start with.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I have thought along Edith's lines many times - you can't read history without coming up short against how bitter and difficult lives were until very recently. I don't think I had quite thought along Glenn's or Grim's line, though. Something like it, perhaps.

Extend the thought further: feminists want their paternalism to come from government rather than individual men because they now have some control over those larger aspects of society. While they are recipients of the daughter/child aspect, they are also part of the father/parent aspect. Farther still down that line of thought, what they may want is not men as fathers so much as grown sons under orders from mothers; sons that will protect them. It would be a tidy little system if it worked.

But government doesn't stay in the child role, does it? It pretty much shoves all of us around (or hints that it could), even when it is representative.

Or also...in better times, government is a more reliable father, especially for daughters who have not been toeing the line. There is more safety and freedom of action. In worse times, however, that can get ugly, even in supposedly civilised places.

Edith Hook said...

AVI, you may have, in part, answered your own question. Almost all the genealogies I have worked on are for everyday working stiffs, where it is not unusual for folks to have 12 children over a period of 16 years, and then one of the parents ups and dies. I cringe every time I come across a story like that and marvel at how these people survived. So maybe, part of the explanation is that government won't up and die on you.

Grim said...

...what they may want is not men as fathers so much as grown sons under orders from mothers; sons that will protect them. It would be a tidy little system if it worked.

Well, they certainly don't want maternalism. I've never yet met a feminist who wanted to live under her mother's authority any more than she wanted to live under any man's. :)

Excepting certain extremists, they generally don't want to reduce men to sons, either: they want men involved in government, especially in roles like the police. They want the paternalistic quality of government, the protective and 'help you out' quality, and they want the men involved in government to be involved in trying to provide those things.

It's just a very different model from what a true patriarchy would look like -- a Saudi Arabia or a Russia under Putin. It's still got men in leadership roles, maybe even in most or nearly all of the leadership roles. But they're serving a very different function in a paternalistic government than in a patriarchal one.

Ymar Sakar said...

It's not men vs women or vice a versa, it is the Leftist alliance vs everyone who refuses to Obey.