This post is in response to the article at What’s Wrong With Equal Rights written by The Radical One, leader of the TWRAs, titled “Women, Stop Obeying Men.”
I think I have found a true conflict between what I believe and what the TWRAs believe as indicated in this article by The Radical One and my previous experience with the TWRAs. In the TWRA model of gender relations the man provides for and protects the woman and in return the woman submits to the man; this relationship being operative primarily (or only) in the context of marriage. The important point is that the TWRAs view the male role in this exchange as self-interested rational behavior on the part of the man where the man is maximizing his own interests by providing for and protecting his wife in return getting an obedient wife focused on his needs and the needs of his children and household as his reward for providing for and protecting his wife. Likewise the woman is maximizing her own interests by agreeing to be obedient to her husband in exchange for the reward of her husband providing for and protecting her. The male / female dynamic (husband and wife dynamic) in this way represents rational mutual self-interest. This is what the TWRAs see the traditional family as being based on.
My model of gender relations produces a similar outcome but has a very different foundation, a foundation I see as being superior to and more achievable than and more stable than the TWRA model. In my model of gender relations the man’s interests are subordinate to the woman’s interests and the woman regarding authority is subordinate to the man on the assumption that the man has accepted his duty to subordinate his interest to the woman. My model is based on inherited hierarchy position with the man superior in authority and inferior in interests with both the man and the woman subordinate to God. Mutual self-interest is not the basis of my gender relations model, instead mutual duty is. The man’s duties are imposed upon him by God and the woman’s duties are imposed upon her by men in obedience to God. God is the ultimate foundation of my gender model, not mutual self-interest.
I don’t think mutual self-interest is consistent with patriarchy; instead mutual self-interest is consistent with feminism. Trying to construct a mutual self-interest mechanism to create patriarchy won’t work because patriarchy is necessarily based on self-sacrifice, not self-interest. So I see the mutual self-interest model of gender relations the TWRAs embrace as seriously flawed and not workable, I see it as a serious problem.
The gender hierarchy is applicable to all relationships between men and women; marriage is simply one example of the overall principle of men being in authority over women and being subordinate to women regarding interests. The Radical One is claiming women’s duty to obey men is only applicable regarding marriage. The Radical One’s idea that gender hierarchy is restricted only to marriage is not consistent with how societies actually worked in the past; the idea is not “traditional.” Furthermore I don’t think The Radical One is truly embracing gender hierarchy even in the marital relationship; she is instead proposing a kind of pseudo-hierarchical relationship based on mutual self-interest. It needs to be remembered that mutual self-interest is not hierarchical, it is egalitarian.
Here is a definition of patriarchy from Princeton which shows that the principle of “male rule” under patriarchy is universal, not just restricted to marriage:
“Patriarchy is a social system in which the role of the male as the primary authority figure is central to social organization, and where fathers hold authority over women, children, and property. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege, and is dependent on female subordination. Historically, the principle of patriarchy has been central to the social, legal, political, and economic organization of Hebrew, Greek, Roman, Indian, and Chinese cultures, and has had a deep influence on modern civilization.”
Patriarchy is derivative of the masculine traits of men and the feminine traits of women. Here is a list of classical stereotypical masculine and feminine traits related to the authority realm (from a college Sociology text by Pearson Education, Inc.):
|Masculine Traits||Feminine Traits|
|Intelligent and competent||Unintelligent and Incapable|
|Sexually aggressive||Sex object|
|Attractive because of achievement||Attractive because of physical appearance|
Notice that all the masculine traits are related to the overall theme of “dominant” and all the feminine traits are related to the overall theme of “submissive.” Some of the dominance related masculine traits are skills (intelligent and competent, rational, analytical) where the rest are mostly character traits. This indicates that male dominance is based both on superior power related skills and on character traits related to greater assertiveness. The most important part I want to point out however is that all these masculine and feminine traits belong to the individual man or woman and that therefore a man carriers his masculinity and a woman carriers her femininity with themselves everywhere they go so that in every interaction and relationship between a man and a woman the man will be masculine and therefore exhibit a tendency towards dominance while the woman will be feminine and therefore exhibit a tendency towards submission. This gender dynamic will be present in all relationships between men and women, not just in the marital relationship.
Here is my basic model of how gender hierarchy works.
|Man defective||Woman normal||Woman competent|
|Man normal||Woman normal||Woman incompetent|
|Man normal||Women defective||Woman incompetent|
A man is either normal or defective (same for the woman). A normal man is a man being obedient to cultural rules; he is an “average” man or the norm for men. He is not doing anything wrong. A normal woman is likewise defined. A “defective” man is a man who is incompetent or immoral or violating cultural rules. He is not normal, there is clearly something “wrong” with him, he is violating cultural rules. A defective woman is likewise defined. A defective man may also be characterized as a morally inferior man. The label of “defective man” and “normal man” is meant to refer to situational conflicts related to the subject of whether the man is legitimately dominant in a particular situation or not; a man is “defective” in a particular situation, not necessarily as any kind of durable state.
The first rule of gender relations is that the man’s interests are subordinate to the woman’s interests. The outcome of any conflict between a man and a woman should be designed to serve the woman’s objective interests in a way not abusive to others. The woman’s interests are always considered to be of superior importance. Men’s interests are subordinate to women’s interests; this is a basic principle of gender relations.
The next issue is, in a conflict, who should get their way? Should the man be dominant in the conflict or should the woman be dominant in the conflict? This is based on whether the woman should be considered competent. The woman has an obligation to serve her own interests because the woman’s interests are superior. Therefore if the woman is in a competent position she should have dominance so that the woman’s objective interests will be best met based on her choice.
On the other hand if the woman is in a state of incompetence then the man should be dominant because in the case of an incompetent woman the man will serve the woman’s objective interests better based on his imposing his will on her than the woman would serve her own interests herself based on the decisions she would make in her incompetent state.
So when both the man and woman are “normal” the man has the right to dominance as in such a situation the woman will be incompetent in relation to the man. The only situation where the woman is not obliged to obey the man is when the man is defective or morally inferior; if the woman is normal while the man is defective either due to incompetence or bad intent or cultural rule violation then in that situation the woman has the right to dominance in the particular conflict she is in with the man.
The principle of Chivalry is based on the duty of men to subordinate their interests to women. Chivalry is male subordination of interests to women; that is the whole point of Chivalry. Chivalry by its nature is unconditional because the whole point of Chivalry is subordination of male interests to female interests and if a man is simply using “Chivalry” as a bargaining tool to “get what he wants” then he is not acting in a subordinate fashion in relation to the woman and is therefore undermining the whole point of Chivalry. Another reason why the Chivalrous duty is unconditional is because a man has the capacity to subordinate his interests to the woman unilaterally with no preconditions needing to exist first. Since the man can be Chivalrous no matter what he therefore has an obligation to be Chivalrous no matter what; to be Chivalrous unconditionally.
Traditional Women’s Rights is the subordination of male interests to female interests in the area of women’s traditional role in the feminine realm, in the area of female superiority. Chivalry creates Traditional Women’s Rights as Chivalry is men subordinating their interests to women which is what Traditional Women’s Rights are all about.
A man who is not acting according to his Chivalrous duty is automatically defective or morally inferior as the failure to be Chivalrous is a cultural rule violation. Similarly a man using his authority for selfish gain is automatically defective or morally inferior as the purpose of male authority is to serve the woman so that a redirection of male authority to serve the man’s interests is an abusive act or a demonstration of bad intent. In this way a man must be Chivalrous and use his authority to serve the interests of the woman in order for his claim of authority to be legitimate as his failure to be Chivalrous and direct his authority to serve the woman’s interests establishes him as defective and therefore no longer entitled to a dominant authority position.
A woman has an obligation to obey any man who has subordinated his interests to the interests of the woman through the mechanism of accepting and fulfilling his Chivalrous duty to the woman. A woman has no right to withhold obedience as a bargaining chip to “get what she wants” as the man has already completed his duty to the woman by fulfilling his culturally imposed Chivalrous obligation to the woman. Once the man has established himself as a “normal man” he is then entitled to the obedience of the women he interacts with. A woman withholding obedience to a man who has shown himself to be competent, good intentioned, and in compliance with Chivalry as culturally defined is being abusive towards the man.
Chivalry manipulation is when a man withholds Chivalry as a bargaining chip to “get what he wants” saying to the woman “I will give you Chivalry if you give me this, this, and this in return.” Chivalry manipulation is a violation of the woman’s right to receive Chivalry without strings attached and is an abusive act against the woman. Obedience manipulation is the female equivalent of Chivalry manipulation where the woman says “I will obey you if you give me this, this, and this in return.” This is an abusive act against the man in the same way Chivalry manipulation is abusive to women. Once a man fulfills his culturally defined obligation to the woman he is entitled to the woman’s obedience without the woman imposing any additional burdens or responsibilities upon him. The male community is what decides what the man’s duties to the woman are, not the woman herself.
The Radical One made the comment in her article:
“Traditional women believe only one man is to have any authority over her and that is the man that takes responsibility for her, is in a lifetime commitment to her and sees that she is protected and all of her basic needs are met. The non-traditional woman just consents to sharing in the man’s responsibility when he doesn’t want it.”
This is an interesting statement. It presents the “traditional woman” as being more “disobedient” to men than the non-traditional woman based on the “traditional woman” placing higher demands on men than the non-traditional woman. First off the idea that a woman is to obey only one man, her husband, is not “traditional” or how society operated in the past at all. In a traditional society women have a generalized duty to obey men. The non-traditional woman is disobedient to her husband and disobedient to men in general simultaneously; indeed her disobedience to her husband is derivative of her unwillingness to be obedient to men in general.
There is another point of interest. A traditional woman does not place various demands on what a man “owes her” before she will obey the man. Instead the wider culture itself places various demands on the man regarding what the man owes his wife. A traditional woman’s assertiveness in relation to men is derivative of what the already established rules of Chivalry in the society are. In other words it is not the woman herself who unilaterally decides that her husband owes her taking responsibility for her, making a lifetime commitment to her, protecting her, and providing for all of her basic needs; it is the male community who decides that this is what men owe their wives where the male community then imposes this list of obligations upon the man as what a husband owes his wife under Chivalry.
It is entirely legitimate for a traditional woman to disobey a man or defy a man who is violating moral rules, it just needs to be kept in mind that the moral rules themselves are based on what the male community decides, not based on what an individual woman asserts in her own right. The male community in turn must be acting based on the will of God to the best of its ability in regards to the rules it sets for men and women.
The duty of a husband to take responsibility for his wife, to take his lifetime commitment to his wife seriously, to protect his wife, and to meet all his wife’s basic needs are all a part of the man’s Chivalrous obligation to his wife. In this way if a man fails to live up to all these obligations to his wife he is then a defective or morally inferior man and is not entitled to obedience on that basis. Still the moral reference regarding whether the man is living up to his responsibilities or not is the male community and ultimately God, not an individual woman traditional or not acting on her own.
The Radical One made the additional comment:
“The non-traditional woman will agree to sex with a boyfriend without the promise of marriage or agree to go to work when her husband doesn’t want to support her. The traditional woman, however, does the opposite. She puts her foot down and demands responsibility on behalf of the man before she submits to him.”
I agree with this statement by The Radical One completely. It should be understood however that this is not part of a generalized right of women to defy men to get the man to “do what she wants.” These are particular examples of a man violating moral rules which then establish the man as morally inferior which then grants to the woman the right to defy the man based on the man’s morally inferior status in relation to her regarding the particular conflicts represented.
Premarital sex is a moral violation so that the man asking for premarital sex is clearly morally inferior due to his rule violation which then grants to the woman the right and duty to disobey his request for premarital sex. Likewise a wife working is a moral violation so that a man “demanding” his wife work is clearly morally inferior and therefore not entitled to obedience regarding his request.
These examples of men in the wrong however does not mean that men should be routinely disobeyed whenever they ask a woman to do something; it only illustrates the fact that a man is not entitled to obedience when he is engaging in a rule violation. If the man is “normal” however and not defective the man is entitled to the presumption of having legitimate authority over the woman.
So the basic rule of gender hierarchy is that men’s interests are subordinate to women’s interests while at the same time male authority is the rule as long as the man is not markedly incompetent, bad intentioned, engaging in a rule violation, or shirking his Chivalrous duties. These violations of “normal” status for the man should be determined by objective community standards and not merely be based on the woman’s impression of things. The woman’s duty to obey is based on the man conforming to community standards of how men should treat women, not based on what the woman thinks of the man’s behavior herself.
Men must accept and understand that their interests are subordinate to women’s interests and act accordingly. Likewise when a woman submits to a man because the man is living up to his obligations as a man the woman’s submission must be “true submission” based in respect and honor towards the man for being a good man and a trustworthy man and a competent man and a Chivalrous man; the submission the woman offers must not be associated with threats of “you better do what I want or else” or anything likewise of an abusive or manipulative nature.
Companion Piece: The Source of the Rules of Gender Hierarchy