Friday, March 31, 2017
Feminism–What Took Men So Long To Realize What A Good Deal It Is?
How did such servitude ever begin? Why were men so bound and determined to keep women tied to Kinder, Küche, Kirche?
Every man knew that his wife was his equal and then some; and if he couldn’t see for himself, all he had to do was to read about the doings of Lady Macbeth, Volumnia, Tamora, Margaret, Goneril, Regan, and Dionyza who ran circles around the men in their lives, defied the traditions of society and culture with ease, and did what it took to achieve their ambitious ends. Wives could be sent out into the world of business and commerce and lighten a man's load, make for easier sailing as well as a comfortable port.
Ah, yes, sexual infidelity. That was what kept men rowing in the trireme, dying in endless, meaningless battles, suffering at the hands of their courtly betters or slumping over into a ditch after years of toil at the hands of their feudal overlords. Women could not be trusted. A child would always be indisputably theirs, but who could say about the father? And what man would work for another’s offspring?
Whatever prompted men to look at life so narrowly and ignorantly is still a mystery. A boy raised from birth in a man’s family is his son regardless of paternity – just as good in the fields, on the pitch, or even in princely courts.
More than likely this congenital weakness was caused by jealousy, another hardwired attribute of human nature to keep families intact and society running smoothly. Men had to be jealous of their wives to keep them from straying.
Male jealousy, however, takes a far more insidious and dangerous form than simple social control. The whole idea of some stranger being inside a man’s wife was simply unthinkable. All measures had to be taken to prevent this violation of, well, purity – hers and his.
Men could have easily gotten over that indelicacy if they had stopped to think. They saw nothing untoward about their being inside a strange woman, even and especially another man’s wife, so why the fol-de-rol about illicit intercourse? Get over the thing about paternity, sexual jealousy, and vain assumptions about male superiority, and the road to male liberation would be clear.
Most men simply could not get over it; and were not only willing to die in their traces after years of plowing rocky, infertile soil, but to put up with wives who, deprived of natural outlets of expression, turned mean and took it out on them. Women over years of servitude and without the will and determination of Elizabethan queens and princesses, had become particularly adept at taking their pound of flesh for any male indiscretion or dereliction – or simply because their husbands offended.
So keeping women in their place was double indemnity. Men were both consigned to rowing the slave ship and during their few hours above-decks, bloodied by the thousand cuts of resentful wives.
Things had to change, and by the Sixties in America, women began to have their day. The Pill allowed them a guiltless, reproduction-free sexual liberation they never before enjoyed; the economy welcomed a wave of new, motivated, intelligent workers; and young men enjoyed the perks of female sensuality.
Yet here we are in the still early years of the 21st century and women are still struggling for equality. They may have achieved a certain professional success – there are more women enrolled in medical and law school than men; and they are taking their places in increasing numbers at the highest levels of academia, Wall Street, industry, and commerce – but they still suffer from residual patriarchy. Men still haven’t learned how to treat women with respect, women say, to listen to their needs, and to bear with them while they balance marriage, work, and family.
To complicate matters further, millennial women are not that far removed from the influence of Daddy. Even D.H.Lawrence’s incredibly strong and independent Ursula and Gudrun (Women in Love) struggle with issues of dependency begun in childhood. Ursula, as Lawrence explains in The Rainbow, the story of the women’s early years, was desperately attached to her father, put up with his abuse and indifference, but dependent on his quixotic but passionate love for her, could only achieve distance and autonomy with a struggle.
Both women feel they need men, but are unsatisfied with any of them. The entire story of these women is not one of love, but love sought – a love which could only be the result of the exhausting struggle of wills between them and their partners.
There most certainly will come a time when families are no longer nuclear, heterosexual, or patriarchal. The bindings of a traditional society will be finally loosened and discarded as it evolves into a virtual one. Men and women will find each other in virtual space, will be confined by no tradition, mores, ethics, or morality, and sexual intercourse will never be more free.
Until that time, however, sexual dynamics will continue to be rattling and noisy. Men and women are still struggling for some kind of purchase in a changing sexual landscape. Women feel empowered, aggressive, and determined; and men are all the more resentful and hostile. It is not a happy period.
Savvy men, on the other hand, know how to game the system, play the odds, and use women’s own ambitions to their advantage. A woman working ten hours a day seven days a week is a woman out of a man’s hair. The opportunities for infidelity are innumerable. He no longer has to invent excuses about ‘staying late at the office’ because his wife actually is. He can enjoy his cinq-a-septs with impunity and take advantage of his spouse’s professional conferences to be on his own.
He has to be increasingly patient, of course, and listen particularly attentively to the stories he has heard a million times in his male-dominated offices – the abusive, retentive, Senior Vice President; the ambitious subordinate who is spreading rumor and innuendo; the ignorant but stubborn client.
With two high-income earners in the family, they can afford a nanny which provides additional cover for the savvy husband. His duties with his children can be as desultory or engaged as he wants. He need not shop, cook, or change diapers.
In such marriages there is little time for vacations; and so much the better for the savvy man who has little need for them. He no longer works for a competitive K Street law firm, but for the federal government. Less pay, but far easier hours and much lower expectations. His ambitious wife more than compensates for his new accommodations.
There are, of course, millions of marriages locked in and stuck in place. When both husband and wife work two jobs, when their parents alternate caring for the children, sexual independence is a pipe dream. Feminism in the rural South or Midwest means only that a woman can work, work hard, and work long.
For those in the higher echelons, feminism has given women the opportunity for more productive, remunerative, and satisfying work; and given men the freedom to let up on the accelerator, enjoy their independence, and do pretty much as they please. Nothing could be more mutually agreeable.
Young women activists still march, demonstrate, and protest for more equality, rights, and privilege; but they are pretty well set, all things considered. Men are not the hormone-addled predators they make them out to be, nor are they total dunces when it comes to a woman’s needs; but it feels right and just to push back until all victories have been won.
As savvy male college students know, female sexual behavior remains unchanged, hardwired attribute of human nature as it is. After all these millennia of evolution, women still want the same things from a sexual relationship as ever. They might be more demanding and insistent, but they haven’t changed much. Their desires are now mediated in a more understanding and tolerant environment, but sex, sexual desire, sexual attraction, and sexual satisfaction go on as they always have.
Savvy male students get the gist of this new social context quickly and easily and act accordingly. They know precisely when and how to approach women, what to say, and how to act. They overlay the new socio-sexual template over sexual desire and take it from there.
It seems, then, that except for the still irritated and exercised few, women are happy with their new lot in life. It is more they could have ever expected. They are losing the last vestiges of patriarchy and happily independent from male domination. In exchange they look the other way at male indiscretion. They were never high on men in the first place, knowing them for the wandering tomcats they have always been; but are confident that with their new status and privilege, they can easily manage them.
Savvy men are just as happy. After a rough beginning – the early days of feminism in the Sixties were a bit unsettling– things have settled out nicely. The war between the sexes has lessened to a series of minor skirmishes, but they are easily avoided thanks to bi-spousal independence.
The rest of the population – men who are still clueless and women still struggling to figure out the new rules of the sexual marketplace – is having a bit of a slog; but this too will change. Social sexual evolution takes time.