The Thinking 


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Male Authority Revisited

August 22, 2011


SUSAN writes:

I’ve enjoyed going through your archives, and in some ways I agree with you. I would like to ask about one of the issues you frequently address.

A couple of notes about my situation: I’m married, and my husband is a man by any standard. He’s not a firefighter, police officer, or in the military – in fact, he works as a mid-level paper-shuffling office drone (and I’m not criticizing him, as he’d be the first to agree with me). Read More »


The Matriarchal Society

August 17, 2010


AS PART of the ongoing series of entries here on the decline of marriage and fatherlessness, Jesse Powell reports below on the final 2007 figures for out-of-wedlock births. These numbers are stark evidence of the ongoing shift to a matriarchal society. Three years ago, illegitimacy rates were close to 30 percent for whites, 50 percent for Hispanics and 70 percent for blacks. These rates are higher now.

Jesse Powell writes:

The Final Birth Data for 2007 has just come out, so it’s time for an update on what the out-of-wedlock birth statistics are telling us.  Read More »


A Man in the Cold

December 15, 2009


The Rev. James Jackson writes:

I’ve many favorite poems about manhood, but I particularly like the attached. Robert Hayden was a student of Auden (he sounds like Auden), though he has his own style. The discussion on your blog touches many things which Hayden expresses well, so I thought you might want to share it with your readers. 

I like it for the priesthood too. The thought of being on my knees and praying for the parishioners before most of them are up (I usually start the Office of Matins at 4:45 AM) appeals to me. It’s just right.


Those Winter Sundays

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I knowbigstockphoto_Sketchy_Flower_On_Black_2055087[1]
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

Robert Hayden, 1913-1980


Read More »


Married to a Wimp

December 12, 2009


Dear Thinking Housewife,

Men are not taught how to be men nowadays. What can I do about the fact that my husband is such a girl?

Regards,                                                                                   bigstockphoto_Ashberry_356525[1]

Anonymous (in an unspecified location)


Dear Anonymous,

I’m sorry, Anonymous, this question makes me mad. Not mad at you, but mad at this. In many ways, the debate over marriage is over, isn’t it? Women are already married to women. And, men are already married to men.

Read More »


Fatherhood and Democracy

October 13, 2009


The ideal citizen in any high-functioning democracy is the father. He is more important politically than the mother;  more important than the young man without children or the single woman; more important as a type than even the property owner. If I were to build an infant republic, I would limit the franchise to fathers, possibly making ownership of property an additional qualification.

There may be great statesmen or thinkers who have no children, men such as Alexis de Tocqueville who possess vision and insight. There may be celibate spiritual leaders and occasionally a great woman leader.  But, it is the ordinary father who is the human cell of democracy, without whom it cannot prosper over the long term.

In the father, the impersonal and personal, the abstract and concrete, the public and private are more likely to exist in the sort of harmony that makes for good political judgment. By father, I don’t mean any man who has biologically reproduced, but the man who takes part in rearing his children and has an active bond with them, whether they are young or adults. The man who never sees his children, has no interest in them, or only supplies compulsory financial support does not meet this definition.

For a woman, the world is too personal and parochial; she seeks security first. For the man without children, the future is sterile; even property or personal wealth will not make him care for those who will live many decades from now. The father is more apt to possess both public-spiritedness and loyalty, dispassion and compassion.

Patriarchy is often misunderstod. Too often it conjures images of despotic chiefs or overlords. A democratic patriarchy is the rule of ordinary fathers. As Pericles said in his famous funeral oration:

   … for never can a fair or just policy be expected of the citizen who does not, like his fellows, bring to the decision the interests and apprehensions of a father.



What do Fathers Want? II

June 24, 2009


Bill writes the following in response to earlier entry on fathers and daughters:

I think (decent) fathers want for their daughters what they have always wanted: a home and a life which give them the greatest chance of rightly-ordered flourishing.  For a long time, back to say Greek antiquity, giving her the best chance at this or something close to it meant preparing her for her role in a rightly-ordered home and helping her find a proper mate.  But this is much less true today and is becoming less true as we go along.

Women cannot simply expect that they will be able to find a suitable man who wants a traditional marriage.  The norms supporting that expectation are weak and are perhaps getting weaker still.  In northern europe now, most babies are born out of wedlock.  Among the American underclass, the same is true.  Even among the more functional elements of our society, the expectation that wives will make large contributions to the family’s financial support is nearly universal.

Read More »


What do Fathers Want?

June 19, 2009


I recently talked to a man who was disappointed that his daughter, in her early twenties, was not eager to go to law school. She had an entry level job at a major food conglomerate.  He wanted her to get a law degree, too.

I suggested she may be worried about later. He said, “Oh, I know she wants that.”  He meant a home and children, but he spoke as if the desire for these was weak, some form of escape for his daughter.

I once saw a man publicly scold his adult daughter because she had decided to cut back her hours at work after the birth of her second child.

The average father no longer yearns for a home for his daughter and a man who can protect her.  He wants her to have an impressive life, even a position in the military if she can get it.  Why? Is he genuinely concerned for her? Is he worried about any lingering financial responsibilities?  Does he feel he has done less if his daughter is simply a mother and wife? How much of his dreams for his daughter is vanity? How much love?

A man who wants his daughter to be a man seems a neutered being. A society that creates neutered men is hollow. It can only limp lifelessly into the future. 

Here is a different sort of dream. In his poem, “A Prayer for my Daughter,” Yeats hopes for a daughter with “radical innocence”:

And may her bridegroom bring her to a house
Where all’s accustomed, ceremonious;
For arrogance and hatred are the wares
Peddled in the thoroughfares.
How but in custom and in ceremony
Are innocence and beauty born?
Ceremony’s a name for the rich horn,
And custom for the spreading laurel tree.

A good home is a form of ceremony. In such a place, a culture’s “innocence and beauty” are born.

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