The Thinking 

A Law Student Plans a Non-Traditional Marriage

November 25, 2012


INEZ writes:

I’ve read your blog with interest over the last several months. You can call me your loyal (hopefully respectful) opposition. I’m perfectly willing to grant that many of the principles you articulate about masculinity and femininity are true across large numbers of people, and I oppose a great number of modern feminist tropes. However, both my natural inclinations/strengths and my admittedly short experiences have been the opposite of what you would consider feminine.

In your entry “Male and Female, Summarized” you list masculine and feminine qualities. Of the masculine, I strongly fulfill all except sexual conquest, physical strength (relative to men, of course), and naturally, genius, although I doubt that most men possess this quality either! [Let’s leave aside for a moment the technical meaning of PATER-nalism and how I cannot possibly be paternal by definition, not being a man, and replace it for now with “protectiveness.”]

Correspondingly, I am woefully deficient in emotional sensitivity and “feminine intuition,” the terrible state of my fine motor skills has been noted by my poor preschool teachers and by the endless parade of broken glasses that follows me, I have never been accused of gentleness, nor of manipulation of others. I am incapable of being coy or demure, or even commanding a socially-respectable level of pleasant artifice.

I fix cars, I shoot guns, I play sports. I delight in the “doing” and the competition.

This is not just my observation, but scientifically measured; in male-female brain tests that measure analytical and rational aptitude against relational thinking and social observation, I score more to the “male brain” side than 85% of men. As a consequence, I’ve followed a life path that plays to my strengths, culminating in my current study at a Top 10 law school.

On the other hand, I’ve never had difficulty finding men to seriously date with an eye to marriage. I’ve been proposed to twice (I’m 24), once by a relatively traditional conservative (I am politically right-wing, although of course you would not consider me a true conservative, and only date people with similar values). My current boyfriend, with whom I frequently discuss future marriage as imminent (we are waiting to get engaged until our families on opposite coasts can meet), has repeatedly stated that the qualities of mine that most attract him (other than the superficial – men are visual creatures, after all) are directness, independence, and ability to discuss analytical subjects. He says he’s never been attracted to demure women, and enjoys what he calls my “John Wayne attitude.” He supports my legal ambitions. When we discuss children, we plan to share child-rearing responsibilities. He’s an historian and an author, so he works from home, and is totally comfortable picking up kids from school. (This is not to say he’s feminine. He’s an easygoing man, but woe to anyone who tries to push him to do something he doesn’t believe to be the wise or moral course.)

All this to say, I think there are many men, even relatively conservative ones, out there who appreciate a more masculine woman, so long as she is not interested in tearing down HIS masculinity, and of course, doesn’t look masculine physically. In another recent entry you wondered at the appeal of the woman at a range. I think the “welcoming masculinity into her life” answer is not the whole story; many men like to marry women with whom they can relate to on a similar level as their buddies, as well as on a romantic level. Of course, this could be just my lucky experience, but I think the infatuation with the Palineque frontier woman, and the trend you have worryingly noted about husbands urging their wives to work outside of the home, testify to the broader existence of the phenomenon.

Thank you for your time and blog.

P.S. I am the only child of a woman who waited until 37 to have children. I have never been unhappy with my lot, nor longed for siblings, although my mother has always told me “early 30’s is better for children than late,” ha ha. This is an unrelated topic, obviously, but something upon which your blog touches upon freqently.

Laura writes:

Thank you for writing.

You write:

In your entry “Male and Female, Summarized” you list masculine and feminine qualities. Of the masculine, I strongly fulfill all except sexual conquest, physical strength (relative to men, of course), and naturally, genius, although I doubt that most men possess this quality either!

But do you look like a man?

You also write:

He says he’s never been attracted to demure women, and enjoys what he calls my “John Wayne attitude.”

But do you look like John Wayne?

My point is, your feminine qualities are certainly of paramount importance. If you were a genius in analytical subjects and 45 years old or as homely as John Wayne, you would have relatively few men, traditional or not, interested.

That’s not to say that your intelligence isn’t attractive also. But often an intelligent woman has a different way of expressing her submissiveness than outright demureness. She may even be a feisty opponent, and men may find that exciting and attractive. Few men want a lump of mush.

A very young, attractive woman who is sexually available, intelligent and capable of supporting a man for life — wow, all in all, it can seem a fantastic bargain for a man. What’s not to like? But when we get down to the nitty gritty, it’s a bargain with serious drawbacks. For one, you may not be capable of feminine gentleness or motherliness, but your children are going to want a mother.

A friend of mine who works as a therapist — she is not anti-feminist at all —  has told me in the course of our conversations that the number one reason people visit her, the subject they talk about more than any other, is their alienation from or disappointment with their mothers. So decisive and influential is the maternal bond. Now some of this resentment is obviously the result of a narcissistic culture. But I think it also reflects real maternal emotional neglect. A mother who has no time to express thoughtful affection, who is not quiet and calm, who cannot help a child define the purpose of life, and who does not nurture her family is a great hardship. She means the difference between a house and a home.

Your husband-to-be may say he likes the masculine side of you and perhaps he would like you to be the main wage earner, at least for a while, but in all probability he will not be interested in much of the business of running a home and rearing children. Good luck to him in trying to get the work of an historian done with the countless interruptions of child care. Egalitarian marriages in which men and women share the housework equally, as I have written before, have a significantly higher rate of divorce.

And there are some things your husband just can’t do. Mary Wollstonecraft, the author of the 18th century book, The Vindication of the Rights of Woman, was bitterly resentful that her mother did not breastfeed her. She felt that feeding at the breast was an important form of maternal love — and she was a feminist.

I’m not sure why you think being a lawyer is an ideal outlet for your rational side. Children are intellectual beings and a mother is their primary teacher.  Your husband also will probably have intellectual interests and need advice and encouragement. Forgive me if I suspect that you prefer becoming a lawyer (and your possible husband-to-be prefers your being a lawyer) instead of a mother and wife because the former confers status and money. These may really appeal to your feminine, social side more than what you describe as your masculine, rational side. The legal profession certainly does not come with intellectual freedom. A lawyer has much less intellectual freedom than a housewife, who is free to think for the sake of thinking.

Finally, you say that you were content as an only child. I don’t doubt it, but most children are social and traditional in their instincts. They like being part of an extended family. Perhaps you can give your grandchildren the possibility of many cousins to fight with and cherish.

Feminine sensitivity and self-denial can be overwhelmingly powerful forces for good and are attributes greatly worth cultivating. But it will be an uphill battle for you to discover your inner woman given all the various interests — including one Top Ten law school and the selfishness of some men  —- pitted against her. Remember also that you have obligations to the legal profession itself and, if you are rationally inclined, should consider what is ultimately best for it.

You will need God’s help to avoid the shallow alternative that awaits you. I wish you the best.

—– Comments —

Melanie writes:

Although I have been reading this unique blog regularly for at least several months, Inez’ submission is the first that has inspired me to comment, and this because I am also a woman in her early twenties and agree with so much that she has said. Like her I believe that “the principles you articulate about masculinity and femininity are true across large numbers of people” and I also disagree with many of the core beliefs and objectives of current feminism.

However, as a relatively masculine woman myself, I have to disagree with your assertion that a relatively masculine woman cannot be a proper mother. Men and women, being instances and not abstractions, can never be absolutely distinct. There is no greater truth to the significant differences between men and women than there is to our significant likeness. We are both alike and unalike, and both our differences and our likeness are necessary to the fulfillment of our human potential and destiny. There is no perfect degree of likeness and difference, nor is it possible to eliminate one or the other, and we can expect that each couple specifically and each society generally will have a certain degree of gender distinction between men and women. All mothers have been at least somewhat masculine, and it is not the masculinity of women that is a threat to their children so much as their mothers’ moral character or lack thereof. I do not deny, however, that femininity is fundamental to motherhood, but I question whether a woman like Inez has necessarily fallen below some hypothetical minimum degree of femininity necessary to be a good mother.

As a young American member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I have had multiple examples of somewhat more egalitarian marriages that do not ignore the important general differences between men and women. Our leaders encourage general and relative adherence to traditional gender roles in accordance with the general differences between men and women, but do not prohibit and even encourage some sharing of responsibilities. They also encourage young men and women who have the opportunity to seek higher education and vocational training. Naturally it is next to impossible to encourage women to develop talents and interest in various specializations within society but then expect that they will not want to act on these interests and use these talents.

My Mormon friend is an accountant with young children whose husband is an IT guy. Because her children are young she works part-time mostly from home for a few local businesses. She is also getting her master’s degree one class at a time. She has not completely given up her participation in the external sphere, but because she is a mother with young children she has reduced her extra-familial commitments. A Mormon co-worker of mine works two days a week for eight or nine hours a day at our office. Her husband has a job that allows him to work full-time hours in two days each week. Because they work on different days, when one of them is working the other can be with their children, and they have the same three days off together every week. Obviously there could be little reasonable objection to this arrangement: they are better able to pay their bills, they each get to spend plenty of time with their kids and they have plenty of time with each other to keep their marriage strong. (It goes without saying, however, that in our community there are plenty of women who do not work while their children are small.)

In other words, I’m not inclined to criticize Inez for her atypical degree of masculinity nor for her accomplishment of getting into a top law school, something for which instead I admire her. I agree that her femininity is of “paramount importance”, but I would argue that it is not necessarily much more so than her masculinity, entirely without which no human being exists.

Laura writes:

I’m afraid you have misread some of what I wrote. You write:

 However, as a relatively masculine woman myself, I have to disagree with your assertion that a relatively masculine woman cannot be a proper mother.

That’s not what I said. I said that a woman lacking in emotional sensitivity who does not value motherliness will deprive her children of the motherly qualities they need. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with a women who likes to shoot a gun or a one who enjoys athletics or a woman who has an intense interest and expertise in legal matters. All these interests do not in themselves make for a bad mother, or even what I would call a masculine woman. But a woman who feels that these interests and inclinations absolve her of the obligation to nurture and care for her husband and children is guilty of neglect. Some women are not naturally domestic or naturally affectionate, and many women are thwarted in these areas, but basic qualities of care and nurturance can be cultivated.

In your further comments about the the individuality of men and women, you suggest that I have said that we fit like cardboard cut-outs into these broad categories. In other words, it is not possible to make generalizations about men and women, and their respective tendencies and obligations, without denying their individuality. I disagree. We must differentiate the sexes because they are very different and have very different aptitudes and responsibilities.  We don’t need to erect iron walls between the masculine and feminine spheres, and honestly I think it goes without saying that men and women share many things in common, but social harmony depends on some broadly different expectations of each sex.

All mothers have been at least somewhat masculine, and it is not the masculinity of women that is a threat to their children so much as their mothers’ moral character or lack thereof.

I’m not sure what point of mine you are refuting. Are you suggesting that intelligence is a masculine quality or having an aptitude in mechanical household matters such as carpentry is a masculine quality? Are you saying that I disapprove of women doing intellectual work or carpentry? I have never made such points. Again, my concern was with Inez’s feminine obligations, which do not  change however masculine she may be or whatever her interests are. There are all kinds of mothers and all kinds of wives, with many different temperaments, personalities and talents. Some are more extroverted; others are introverts. Some have intellectual interests; others are artsy or good at organizational work. But all have duties as wives and mothers, and can fulfill these while also finding outlets for their interests.

When I referred to an egalitarian marriage, I did not mean a marriage where men and women help each other out in their respective work. Many men chip in with the housework or childcare and there are many ways women can earn extra money without being full-blown careerists. An egalitarian marriage, on the other hand, is one in which equality in these areas is stressed, so that there is little or no division of labor. In an egalitarian marriage, the man and woman do not have their distinct and separate spheres.

You write:

In other words, I’m not inclined to criticize Inez for her atypical degree of masculinity nor for her accomplishment of getting into a top law school, something for which instead I admire her.

Did I criticize Inez for being in law school or for the simple fact that she enjoys it?

Alissa writes:

Inez, are you from Spanish or Portuguese culture?I am politically right-wing, although of course you would not consider me a true conservativeYou are a libertarian it seems.Of course, this could be just my lucky experience, but I think the infatuation with the Palineque frontier woman, and the trend you have worryingly noted about husbands urging their wives to work outside of the home, testify to the broader existence of the phenomenon.Inez, this is wishful thinking. Palin is a virus for the true conservative movement and a failure. Her own daughter, Bristol Palin, is a single mother. You are injecting your own attraction for strong men and thinking of the “strong woman-stronger man” pairing. In Roissyian terms you are an alpha female heavily attracted to alpha males but you cannot see that most men are not alpha males. Most men are not Barack Obama or Bill Clinton. Most men are betas or omegas. The working woman existed WAY before feminism and the glorification of the upper-class woman becoming like her upper-class husband is a modern phenomenon. There is nothing that says that a woman should be EITHER strong independent nasty thing or a demure “weak” woman. That false dictohomy was set up by feminism. Kind of like, rape IS rape was set up by feminism. A rigid definition of rape (e.g. rape is rape) and an obsession with power structures is a feminist thing.

Buck writes:

You’re kidding? Inez celebrates the fact that she is not feminine. She relishes the fact that some males are attracted to her because of her dominant masculine traits and she relishes the fact that these males are not turned off by her lack of femininity, a lack of which she seems proud. She heralds this male attraction to her “John Wayne attitude.” It’s a strange brew, this modern mix of male/man, female/woman attraction. What is the female counterpart to the metrosexual male? Intuitively (my feminine side?), I thought about the bizarre range of homosexual varieties and what elements attract one to the other.

I have no idea why Inez concludes that many men want to romance, marry and have a lifetime of sex with their buddies. Really? Their buddies?

 Laura writes:

If Inez had, say, scored poorly on her math SAT’s, I doubt she would boast of how this was part of her feminine nature. And yet she does boast of being emotionally insensitive (or in other words selfish.) The problem isn’t perhaps that she is more masculine innately. The problem is that she looks down on feminine strengths and considers herself above them.

Melanie responds:

Thank you for responding to my comments and thank you for your insightful blog. (I neglected to say that the first time only because my post was getting so long I was worried you might have to omit part of it for brevity.) I’m always interested to see what has been posted last and even when I disagree with you I love that this blog allows discussions that are not had in most other venues. It looks like we agree when it comes to “egalitarian marriage”, we were just operating under different definitions.

I reread what you wrote about masculinity and proper mothering to make sure I was being fair, as you said I have misread you. Inez did say she lacked sensitivity, which I am sure you would agree is masculine. You then said the lack of this attribute would deprive her children. In other words, you were suggesting (please correct me if I’m wrong) that masculinity in a woman is harmful to her children. [Laura writes: I don’t know what it means to say that “masculinity in a woman is harmful to her children,” and that’s why I didn’t phrase it that way. I said children need a mother’s sensitivity whether their mother is sensitive or not.] You also implied that Inez was trying to “absolve” herself of her obligation to care for her family. This obligation does not fall to woman alone, nor does she necessarily neglect it by having external engagements. [Laura writes: Yes, you are right, But implicit in my argument was that men have their own responsibilities, particularly the obligation of providing for the family.] However, women generally bear a greater burden than men in that regard, and this is perfectly natural. Admittedly, Inez’ situation, if it unfolds as she expects, is quite exceptional in that it sounds as if more of the care of the children will fall to her husband rather than to her. I’m not really sure whether I think it is acceptable for a couple to intentionally plan such an exceptional arrangement or not, but since I’m unsure I’m not inclined to criticize. I feel this implication you made was in fact criticizing her for being in law school/planning a legal career, even if indirectly.

You say that I have suggested that you think men and women are not individuals, and that I reject generalizations and generally different expectations about men and women based on individual variation. I think my post made it clear that this is not what I believe. I did not say men and women are identical, which is exactly what one would be suggesting if he or she suggested that we vary only on an individual basis and not also based on being men and women. I asserted and believe that men and women are generally different and that these differences are significant. It is perfectly reasonable and good that in light of the differing natures of men and women we (in most but not all cases) disproportionately bear the burdens for the greater good that our sex is uniquely suited to. Nonetheless, the other half of what I said, which I attempted to express not as being more important but equally so, is that we are also significantly alike, and any suggestion that the distinction is or ought to be absolute is just as nonsensical as the opposite suggestion that there is no difference. In other words, the affirmation to some extent of both general distinctions and individual distinctions makes sense. Although these two things are obviously in opposition, they are also both realities, and denying either one is based on misunderstanding.

I can see why you got the impression I believed that, as most people veer to one extreme or the other, and I do in fact have a sentimental bias that may have been apparent. As C.S. Lewis put it, the devil sends errors into the world in pairs. (The whole chapter in Mere Christianity is really worth reading, although I wouldn’t be surprised if you have already read it.) I think the idea applies uniquely here. My sentiments are biased in favor of emphasizing the likeness between men and women, and as far as I can tell yours are biased in favor of emphasizing the difference. But both the likeness and the difference are significant and real, aren’t they? Based on your many posts I’ve read I think you and I probably agree more than we disagree philosophically on this matter, but we clearly have different sentiments about it.

I loved what you wrote here: “Feminine sensitivity and self-denial can be overwhelmingly powerful forces for good and are attributes greatly worth cultivating” True and well said. The tendency to ignore the value of femininity and to regard it as inferior to masculinity seems to transcend generations and cultures. I’m always happy to hear someone whose opinion I respect affirm it. I think the loving self-sacrifice to which women are uniquely suited and predisposed is arguably the most excellent and beautiful part of femininity. I love a good debate and apologize if I have been too direct or too critical.

 Laura writes:

You have not been too critical and I appreciate your comments and efforts to clarify the issue.

You write:

My sentiments are biased in favor of emphasizing the likeness between men and women, and as far as I can tell yours are biased in favor of emphasizing the difference. But both the likeness and the difference are significant and real, aren’t they?

Yes, both the likenesses and similarities are significant and real. Unfortunately, we live in a culture which exaggerates the similarities. That is much less true among Mormons, and your perspective may reflect that.

One of the ongoing preoccupations of Western literature has been the tension between these similarities and differences. Our culture is so highly individualistic, more so than Asian or African culture, that we must confront this tension constantly.

Sibyl writes:

Inez, it seemed clear from reading your self-description that you are not at all a masculine woman. Because Laura has hit the nail on the head with her comment about a poor score on the SATs: no one would dare to say (surely you would not) that scoring poorly in math is a feminine trait. Yet your independence, your more analytical nature, your fierce intelligence, you all ascribe to masculinity. That’s just bunk, and I suspect it is bunk that you got handed to you, not that you yourself created.

Because of course women always have had the same range of flighty-to-analytical, limp-wristedness-to-independent, moronic-to-sharp-as-a-tack qualities as men. The difference between the sexes, rather, lies in a different direction altogether, which I think Laura is right to emphasize: femininity has to do with a holistic openness to persons, a desire for interpersonal communion that deals in more than a shared task or a common mission, and a heart more attuned to the interior, both of herself and others, than to maintaining and defending exterior structures. Although as you rightly point out, each woman is an instance, and not an abstraction, and so there will be variation.

What I would say to you, Inez, is simply that you will see this more clearly the longer you live and the more realistic you are with yourself. If you truly do not believe yourself to have motherly qualities, and that these would never arise in you even if you were to become a mother biologically, then for heaven’s sake, steer clear of marriage. Because children are the usual result of marriage, one way or another. But let me reassure you — although this is mere anecdote and thus not a very likely to help you — that I myself never thought of myself as particularly womanly and certainly had no real interest in babies or children. Although not competitive and not interested in guns, I have always had a particularly analytical mind and disliked a man who could not keep up with me, intellectually. Having found one who could easily match and outmatch me, I married him. And as a coda, the moment I had a child I found that I had learned a great deal about the true differences between men and women, and 17 years (and 6 children) later, continue to learn.

 Mary writes:

My guess is that Inez is very attractive and consequently has many options open to her in terms of a mate. An average or below average looking woman with masculine traits would have no such options. Funny how very attractive women often express wonder at the advantages their looks bring them, and mistakenly think that they must be more lucky, or more talented, or more interesting than other, less beautiful women; very intelligent beautiful women in particular seem most reluctant to admit that the attentions they receive are based mostly on their looks, with brains a distant second.

Inez writes [these comments came in before those of Sibyl and Mary]:

Interesting responses. I’d like to clarify a few points, if I may.

You are free to call me libertarian, although I have not yet met a libertarian who would claim me. I’m of the Harry Jaffa/Strauss school of Constitutional thinking – doubtless a debate for another time.

Your opening point to me in your first response seems to be to an argument I did not make. Of course my boyfriend appreciates that I don’t look like John Wayne; this seemed obvious to me, and I included a reference to that fact when I mentioned that men of course do NOT appreciate a woman who looks masculine or manly. If I were 45, or manly, or homely-looking, no doubt I would have a problem getting a date. But there are many feminine women also who cannot get a date if they are older, or overweight, or otherwise less physically attractive.

Second, the charge that we (my boyfriend and I) are overly concerned with money is false, although I did not give you any information in my first comment to refute it. The branch of law I’m studying does not lead to a fat paycheck – to the contrary, it leads to a life in nonprofit litigation and policy work. On the other hand, it does come with significant intellectual freedom. My boyfriend also has no need of my income, since he himself both makes and inherited a comfortable living, substantially greater than my own will be as a lawyer. He could easily financially support us both. As for social status, I’ve never had a problem incurring the disapproval of people around me (and I agree with you that the social disapproval heaped upon housewives is unfair). Try being a conservative activist on a University of California campus (if you like “conservative,” but nevertheless different enough to incur wrath – one time a professor spat on me on the quad, so I was certainly considered persona non grata my social milieu).

I would also like to remind your readers that to be an only child is not necessarily to lead a life of stultifying isolation. I was very social and enjoyed time at school with my peers, as well as numerous playdates arranged by my parents. I have no cousins or extended family (except for one uncle whom I have met maybe four times), but that is largely because my parents left the country of their birth (Poland), which after 50 years of devastating rule by Nazis and Communists, left us with very little family either here or across the pond. Incidentally, no, I’m not Portuguese or Spanish. My parents gave me a Spanish name to match their new state of residence, California, where the names of all the towns are in Spanish. Incidentally, Inez was a common name in America at the turn of the 20th century. Many of your readers doubtless had grandmothers, or friends of their grandmothers, named Inez. :)

It seems to me that the greatest of your arguments is that children require a feminine mother for proper development. I wonder if you could elaborate on this further. I can see why children need a nurturing parent as opposed to a more disciplining one, but why would you say a father would be unable to provide this, if he is more naturally inclined to be, as you say, calm, quiet and affectionate?

I am open to being convinced, as I know next to nothing about child development, except that children quickly become experts in which parent is more likely to be sympathetic to the particular concern of the day. For example, I always knew to ask for permission to do something social from my mother, who had, perhaps similarly to you, concerns that I was not getting enough social time with my peers. But if I wanted to do something more daring or dangerous, my father would certainly encourage me, while my mother would rather lock me in the house forcibly than allow me to dive off of a 30-foot rock or gallop a horse without a bridle. All children, in my admittedly small range of interactions with them, quickly find out who will let them get away with what! Why would they similarly not learn which parent to turn to for particular needs?

Finally, I want to clarify that when I say I’m not emotionally sensitive, I disagree that it is equivalent to stating proudly that I am selfish. Indeed, I would never brag about such a negative trait, of which I certainly have many. I was thinking not of selfishness or generosity, but of typically feminine emotional intuition – that combination of careful observation and instinct that many women seem to have in spades that allows them to divine and react to the emotions of those around them. Certainly you would not say that men who lack that trait are selfish? No, the difference is that I am not naturally attuned to the emotional needs of others, but must be made aware of them in an overt manner (a trait many ladies seem to complain about in their husbands, and certainly not always a positive one). This is not the same as saying I am willing to ignore the needs of others around me – selfishness or unkindness. Perhaps you meant a different kind of emotional sensitivity? You cannot have meant that men are unkind or selfish, so maybe we are speaking past each other.

Furthermore, while it’s true that I am not ashamed of my own strengths, it would not be fair to say that I look down on feminine strengths. That may have been true when I was 16, as I, like most young people, found it more difficult to admire strengths different from my own. But my mother is a very feminine woman (not a traditionalist, per se, but a woman to whom your list of feminine qualities aptly applies), for example, and I admire her strengths very much. There are many times I have wished to be as femininely graceful as my mother, especially in those moments when I am looking at the remains of what used to be a beautiful wineglass on the floor.

I like in myself what I am accomplished at, but actually, now that I’m not 16, admire even more greatly those who are accomplished in what I never could be. For example, you, Mrs. Wood, have impeccable skills of observation, as has been shown many times when you and your readers discuss the minute posture differences and facial expressions in advertisements that reveal more about the intentions of what the company was trying to elicit in its viewers. My admiration of this skill of yours to delve into the subtle intentions that inform body language and facial expression is part of why I read this blog regularly; after reading such an entry, I always come away with an understanding that I could not have possibly gotten to on my own (my own powers of observation frequently fail me even in mundane matters).

Thank you for your and your readers’ time, advice, and words to ponder.

P.S. In response to your small jab about the SAT’s, I received a 2400 (a perfect score on the “new” three-subject test) on the SAT, which is, unfortunately for my “self-esteem” as liberals like to say, totally meaningless. I taught the SAT for a prep company. It has been my experience in teaching hundreds of students that the SAT is a worthless measurement of aptitude, as I believe I once wrote to you when you touched upon the subject a long time ago. I understand that this SAT debate is beside your point, however.

P.P.S. You would be hard pressed to find evidence for Alissa’s assertion that most people to the right of center disapprove of or dislike Sarah Palin. Yes, there has been criticism of her at this blog and other traditionalist outlets, but traditionalism is, as frequently admitted here, not the majority opinion on the right today. So my original point stands – there are many men out there who would love a wife like Sarah Palin. Perhaps they are not traditionalist men, but you cannot argue simultaneously both that your worldview is in the tiny minority, and that to state that many men exist who have contrary desires and opinions about the wifely suitability of such a woman is “wishful thinking.”

 Laura writes:

As for your point about not wanting or needing your income as a lawyer, then I don’t understand why you wouldn’t seek to meld your various interests with being a wife and mother at home, especially since you are very young and have plenty of time ahead of you. What a great opportunity you have. I went to the funeral a few months ago of a woman who had seven children. She was a great mother, and one of the reasons why, I think, was that she started very young and over the course of many years became a sort of genius of feminine insight and skill. One can’t overstate how important a woman is by virtue of her influence, as opposed to her accomplishments.

You write regarding female intuition:

 Certainly you would not say that men who lack that trait are selfish?

Well, yes, I would say that men are more selfish in that sense. They are less empathetic. You may also lack these social instincts by nature, which is not your fault, but you can at least be aware of the deficiency and try to mitigate its effects. I know a woman who lacks this innate sensitivity and often says blunt, somewhat insulting things to others. I don’t think she means to be unkind, but she lacks some basic awareness of the feelings of others. It has caused her some pain and hardship to be this way. We all have our innate shortcomings. The best we can do is cultivate humility, self-denial and a consciousness of our inadequacies. To be a good lawyer, one must be aware of what one doesn’t know and seek to limit that ignorance. To be a good mother and wife, one must similarly engage one’s own limitations.

I suspect, as Sibyl pointed out, that you will discover your empathetic side with a vengeance when you have children. This is not always true, but it is common.

As for why a man can’t be motherly, there are some men who are more affectionate by nature than their wives, but children want physical intimacy with their mothers when they are young and this is only natural. Generally in later years it is best if one parent manages the home and daily life of the children. A home with daily rhythm and peace requires great attention. Since you were an only child, the need for this may seem less apparent to you.

Children learn or experience what a woman is through their mothers (while they also experience her distinctive personality.) She helps them form their ultimate identity as a man or woman. So whatever your individual tendencies, your womanliness is not simply interchangeable with qualities of your husband. It becomes in some ways archetypal in the psyche of your children and is influential in patterning their futures, as well as that of their children.

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