[Fair Warning: This post is my attempt to delve into philosophy, political philosophy and other “deep” matters. These are not fields where I have any special knowledge/training, or have an in-depth education, and it will show. Please excuse the (overly) amateur nature of this post.]
For some time now I have been of the opinion that the present outbreak of rebellion in women against male authority, a problem with many names but which can be encapsulated best by the appellation “feminism”, was inevitable in the West, and in the United States in particular. Several different factors are at play right now in the United States, any one of which would create the present crisis (which I believe it so qualifies as). Working together they have created an unstoppable juggernaut which has reshaped the culture over the last century or so to a breathtaking degree. What we have now would be largely unrecognizable to someone who lived at the turn of the 20th century. The social order which we might refer to as “Patriarchy” is now entirely gone. Whatever appears to be left of it is in fact a hollow shell, devoid of substance or meaning.
Two comments stand out in convincing me to write this post. Both took place in my post One Body, where I discussed unity within the church. However, both commenters used the opportunity of division within the church to point out greater divisions within the whole of society. The first comment comes from Denise:
I’ve thought for a while that one of the ironic things about the Christian part of the manosphere is the emphasis on authority, but limited to the need for women to submit to the authority of men. At the same time, there is a general denigration of the authority of church leaders (of whatever denomination). The need for authority permeates our lives, and wherever people are unwilling to submit themselves to the right authority over them, there will be problems.
This comment elicited a response from reader mdavid:
I’ve never really thought about things this way, but the more I reflect it’s pretty dang amusing. Think about it this way: individualistic men of the West, each claiming to be their sole spiritual authority to interpret the bible…get exactly what we ask for: division. And our women, following us, soon become a perfect reflection of their men, indeed made from our very (disobedient) rib to continue the analogy.
In this light, it’s sort of funny to complain about women being disobedient to the very men who are themselves repulsed by earthly spiritual authority. Hey, I don’t want to obey imperfect earthly authority (even though Jesus demanded it) so I’ll follow Christ directly! Well, then, why shouldn’t my wife say exactly the same thing to me? I sure can’t claim perfection for myself nor my earthly spiritual leaders. So the modern western wench is a pretty damn appropriate punishment, the more I think of it. God is clever but never malicious. He is merely giving us what we demand…earthly freedom for us and ours. Ouch.
Both of them touched on one aspect of the problem of female rebellion- the overall dislike of authority in the West. But so much more is at play. I am writing this post in order to examine some of the reasons why Patriarchy was doomed centuries ago, and to show that what is happening now is merely the fulfillment of a destiny set in place long before our time.
Right now there are three major factors, or impulses, that are driving the current trend of female rebellion within the West. I use the term impulse because they are actively pulling society/the culture along; they are not reactive in nature. Each of these impulses is tied to the dominant ideology and political philosophy of the West, which has many specific flavors but overall can be summed up as “liberalism” (note the small ‘”l”). All three are linked to one another to different degrees, as while they manifest differently and have varying effects, their ultimate point of origin is the same. The three impulses are:
- The Anti-Authoritarian Impulse
- The Egalitarian/Equality Impulse
- The Freedom/Liberty Impulse
Each of these impulses has worked on its own to stoke the fires of female rebellion, each in its own unique way. While the paths they have trodden may be different, the final destination is the same: the destruction of Patriarchy. Now to explain all three in a little more depth.
The Anti-Authoritarian Impulse derives from the liberal opposition to authority and the exercise thereof. This is especially true for “imposed authority,” that is, authority that comes down from above where the person below has no say in the matter. One of the driving forces in the creation of what we can call liberalism was a hostility to this kind of situation. It is principally applied to matters of state, and expressed most commonly in the idea that “just government comes from the consent of the governed.” Liberalism believes that authority cannot be imposed unilaterally from above; it is only valid when assented to by the governed.
As one might guess, this particular impulse manifests as a direct rebellion against authority. It is the most forward of the impulses, and the easiest to understand in its effect (subtle it ain’t).
Also, this impulse is nothing new. Its origin is as old as Man himself, for it is born of the spirit of rebellion that lurks in the heart of every man and woman. The story of the Fall in the Book of Genesis contains the perennial example of the rebellion against authority. So its no surprise that liberalism adopted anti-authoritarianism into its official “plank.” The Reformation also had a huge impact on the development of liberalism, as liberalism was strongest and germinated soonest (from what I recall of my history lessons) in those regions/nations that embraced Protestantism. [This post isn’t aimed to fight that particular conflict over again, merely to show the ideological consequences of the Reformation. So lets keep it topical here.]
The Egalitarian or Equality Impulse is a fairly broad one, as it encompasses both the liberal belief that everyone is equal to some degree or another, as well as the belief that everyone should be equal. Some expressions of this include ideas such as “political equality”, “equality of opportunity” and “equality of outcome.” Ultimately it comes down to treating people the same in some form or fashion, and recognizing them as being the same. Each plays off the other. After all, if everyone “is” the same, then they should be treated the same. And if everyone is treated the same, then they will “be” the same.
Its origin in liberalism is interesting. It has ties to classical philosophy, especially the polis of ancient Greece, where in many instances the citizens of a city-state were considered equal brothers (Sparta is an interesting example of this). Another pagan connection would be various Anglo-Saxon and Viking traditions, which hewed to a sort of “band-of-brothers” belief that fellow warriors were equal to one another. The notion of trial by your peers is an example of this, as it has a history tied to this tradition, dating back to when Germanic tribes first invaded what we now call Britain and Ireland. There was also a Christian connection as well, owing to the thought of some famous Christian theologians who emphasized the equal worth of human beings in the eyes of God. There is more, but it is beyond the scope of this post.
All of these sources flowed together into the thinking of the Enlightenment, where liberalism was born, and emerged as the idea we now call “Equality.” While it has, even now, many flavors, the Egalitarian Impulse carries a lot of weight in the liberal West.
The Freedom or Liberty Impulse is, stated simply enough, the liberal belief that everyone should be free to act how they wish as much as possible. Usually it is explained as the ability of a human being to act in whatsoever manner they wish, so long as they don’t intrude on the rights of a fellow human being. Otherwise, so long as someone else isn’t directly affected, you are free to do whatever you want.
Much of its origin can be traced to the English Enlightenment, which drew heavily on the centuries old tradition of “English Liberty.” That itself drew on even older traditions dating back to the Norman conquest of England, when certain individuals were granted special privileges based on service to the crown, blood ties and the like. Originally (to the best of my musty knowledge of history) it mainly manifested itself as a list of rights to be free of certain obligations. Freedom from certain taxes and duties, for example. A freedom “from,”, if you will. Over time it morphed into a freedom “to” do certain things. As a matter of political philosophy, this was actually a huge shift, and helped lay the groundwork for the impulse as we understand it today.
The United States in particular is a product of all three liberal impulses. One can look through American history and be bombarded by different ideas and beliefs that all had their origin in one or more of these impulses. Perhaps no document is a better example of liberalism’s core tenets than the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
You can see all three impulses at work here-
- “all men are created equal” is the Egalitarian impulse
- “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” is the Freedom impulse
- “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” is the anti-authoritarian impulse
- “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government” is also the anti-authoritarian impulse
You will find similar influences in pretty much every major American political document or speech. The three impulses pervade everything; they are so commonplace we pretty much take them for granted at this point. An interesting question would be if they are more prominent in the US than they are elsewhere. My personal belief is that the Anti-Authoritarian and Freedom impulses are more pronounced in the US, whereas in the rest of the West the Egalitarian impulse is dominant. That is not to say that the US lacks the Egalitarian impulse, it clearly doesn’t. But it isn’t as strong, and takes a somewhat different form than it does in, say, Europe.
The reason for this is that liberalism has had several different variants over the years. The US has long been a haven for what political philosophers call “classical liberalism”, which is the form of liberalism that developed during the Enlightenment. It is marked by a strong resistance to authority, a preference for Equality of Opportunity over Equality of Outcome, and a strong believe in “individual rights, i.e., “freedom.” Europe, on the other hand, has been influenced far more by “socialist liberalism”, which is a post-Enlightenment variant of liberalism which was a product of the Romantic era. It is marked by a strong preference for Equality of Outcome, which drowns out to some degree the other impulses. However, despite the different flavors they represent, both expressions of liberalism lead to the same place, as the next section will explain.
This leads me back to the original point of this post- how the rise of “feminism” in the West was inevitable. Liberalism, as the dominant ideology in the West, made sure that all three impulses exerted a great deal of influence on Western culture and thought. They are everywhere. Their influence and effect is inescapable. And each was capable by itself of encouraging female rebellion. How did they do it? Let us examine each in turn.
The Anti-Authoritarian impulse
This is easy enough to understand. This impulse has, over time, encouraged all segments of society to rebel against any form of authority, and it has weakened the authority that can be exercised. Male authority over women is treated like any other kind of authority- it is opposed on principle and tolerated only when those over whom it is exercised consent (stated another way, consent must be had for authority to be exercised). Naturally enough, most women don’t consent to men exercising authority over them. And why shouldn’t they? Individually they often benefit from rebelling, even though society as a whole will suffer.
Left unchecked, this impulse will expand its scope and reach. And there is no checking it, as it is a core belief of the ideology of liberalism. To check the anti-authoritarian impulse would be to renounce a part of liberalism itself, which it would not, could not do. No form of authority can escape its grasp accordingly.
The authority that a husband can exercise over his wife in marriage would be one such authority. It was always scheduled to be on the chopping block, no matter what. After all, if the authority of the state and the church has been rejected, why not the authority of the husband over his wife? Compared to the first two, the authority of the last is trivial. Christianity, as we have learned, does not provide an immunity to this. The same thought processes which affect secular thinking affect religious thinking. An example- “so what if the Bible says that wives are to submit to their husbands… there is no reason you have to follow it anyways.”
What has happened in the West over the last many centuries is that the authority of the state and the church has been reduced and limited to an incredible degree (although it should be noted that the rise of socialist type policies and practices runs counter to this- the subject of the impulses competing with one another is a matter for another post, however). The authority of the husband over his wife, and of men over women, would always be targeted because any authority would eventually find itself a target. And no defense could be raised against it, because those elements of society which could mount it had already been neutered.
The Egalitarian Impulse
Again, this has two components, one that stresses that everyone is equal, and a second which emphasizes that everyone should be treated equally. Both work together towards the same end.
If women are equal to men, then it follows that men cannot exercise authority over them. After all, authority is exercised by a superior over an inferior, not by one equal over an another. Also, if women are equal to men, than they should be treated the same. It isn’t logical or consistent to treat those who are the same any differently, hence women and men must be treated the same. And if women and men are to be treated the same, then there is no room for male authority over women.
The problem with the Egalitarian impulse is that it could never be easily limited. Once the concept of Equality was acknowledged as an ideal, there was no stopping it. Anyone and everyone would claim the mantle of its power for themselves. How do you distinguish one group as worthy of equality, and not another? As long as it held value in the minds of the populace, people would be hesitant to argue against its further application to another “worthy” group. In holding up Equality as an ideal, liberalism provided a ready made tool to hammer male authority with. The two are incompatible, something had to give. With liberalism being the dominant ideology, the loser was inevitably going to be male authority.
The Freedom Impulse
Male authority over women necessarily entails restrictions on female liberty. That is the nature of authority- it’s exercise limits what you can do. Here we had another inevitable conflict in the making. Again, the idea behind this particular liberal belief is that you should be able to do what you want to do. Support of any kind of restriction on liberty, of anyone, carries with it the charge of hypocrisy (again, with some exceptions based on the other impulses interacting). Whether or not it is true, people don’t like to be called hypocrites. Defending against that charge would require showing that restricting female liberty was of greater social value than promoting greater liberty. The problem with that defense is the fact that liberalism never had as a core component of its ideology the belief that men needed to exercise authority over women. Rather, it was inherited from previous ideological systems as a kind of “leftover”, a tradition that was preserved because it made sense. Some philosophers made stronger arguments in favor of it, but those ideas were never part of the core ideology of liberalism. They were dressing, in other words.
All of this means that when push came to shove, the liberty impulse was destined to win. People in the West have been conditioned to believe that more liberty is inherently a good thing. Indeed, liberty itself is seen as a good of the highest order, so of course the more of it, the better. If you oppose greater liberty for, say, women, why then… the question is raised about what kind of person are you? Only someone opposed to liberty, such as a fascist/national socialist, would oppose liberty. After all, that is what liberalism has essentially taught people in the West. Because liberty was more highly valued by liberalism than any exercise of authority by men over women, it was inevitable that women would seek and be granted the freedom they so desired.
In conclusion, this was always going to happen. The seeds of female disobedience and rebellion were planted centuries ago. Men, in their desire to acquire more liberty for themselves, to level the playing field, and to escape the church and the state exercising any authority over them (without their say so) created an ideology to suit their ends. But in their individualistic pursuit of greater self-actualization and power, they failed to appreciate that they were paving the road for women to follow right behind them. And follow they did.
Churchianity is the natural result of these liberal tendencies allowed to run their course. Notions of Equality, Freedom and a hostility to Authority are so deeply engrained in our minds by the surrounding culture they incline us to undermine core tenets of the faith. Despite clear teaching to the contrary, wives are not submitting to their husbands, women are preaching and exercising authority over men, and marriage and divorce are treated flippantly. Those are just a small sample of what Churchianity offers. And it is only going to get worse.
In their haste to get what they wanted, our forefathers blindly tore down the barriers that kept our inner demons at bay, and undermined the foundation of Western Civilization. As many around these parts have argued for some time, that foundation was Patriarchy and Patriarchal marriage (for a good explanation of how that is the case, see here). When the present system collapses, and it most certainly will, it will not be because people the people running it were incompetent. Or because they didn’t try it hard enough or long enough. No, everything will fall apart because there could be no other outcome. The liberal order was destined to collapse.
So the next time you hear a woman complain that there are no good men left, the next time you hear a father bragging about his careerist daughter, the next time you hear a man lamenting how his wife blew up his marriage and ruined the lives of their children, the next time a preacher tells the men of the church to “man up”, the next time you hear a story on the news about more and more children being born out of wedlock, know well that you are hearing: