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Mar 18 2006

Depressing Reproduction Update


The suitably depressing view from Café Mundi, from which bastion of alter-native East Austin coffeehouse hipness (at the table next to us there were four people chatting in French, for crying out loud) I conducted some recreational blaming yesterday afternoon over a cup of Americabastardo (1/2 regular drip, 1/2 decaf Americano), which I almost immediately spilled on the hapless Stingray on accounta I got no couth, which was also depressing.

It’s been a fabulously painful few years for the patriarchy-blamer, both professional and hobbyist alike. From time to time we may hear of some small victory, such as the convictions in the Haidl rape case or the legalization of homo marriage in Spain, but no sooner do we pop the cork on our celebratory bottle of Prosecco than 38,907 glowing examples of white male supremacy sprout up like nukular kudzu to choke out our paltry success. The Patriot Act. Abu Ghraib. Global warming. The bankrupting of the country to pay for an illegal vanity war. “Car Talk.” And most recently, the slew of unconstitutional, theocratic legislations that dehumanize women in every possible way.

In other words, we’re losing. We don’t even have a decent pundit, for chrissake. Go on. Name one.

But we patriarchy-blamers thrive on punishment. If we didn’t, we’d all be getting boob jobs so we could seek empoweringly dude-pleasing employment in strip clubs, instead of making internet pronouncements on the eroision of women’s autonomy that either preach to the choir or attract priapic teenage boys who think we just need one up the ass. So, as a punishment-glutton blamer, if the recent atavistic fucktardage regarding abortion bans and punishing unconcious teen rape victims hasn’t sufficiently bummed you the hell out, perhaps you’ll enjoy this article at Foreign Policy. It offers a perfectly gruesome explanation as to why we’re losing. The premise: that when the intellectual elite in a given society reach a certain level of personal fulfillment, they very sensibly quit breeding. While this makes sense for them, it has the untoward effect of leaving the primitive superstitious misogynist godbags in charge of fertility. The result? A master race of primitive superstitious misogynist godbags inherits the earth, of course. If what this guy says is true, maybe it’s time we find a way to slip some dioxin into the national Hamburger Helper supply.

Breeding, breeding, breeding! I tell you, we must figure out how to get this thing done in a petrie dish!

UPDATE: There’s a many-commented (albeit mostly by dudes) and somewhat satisfying evisceration of the Foreign Policy piece at Crooked Timber (thanks, Mandos)

[gracias, Flossie]

67 comments

  1. Mandos

    Don’t feel too bad. Kieran Healy on Crooked Timber wrote a critique of Longman’s article, and the resultant discussion of it is quite good.

    http://crookedtimber.org/2006/03/15/demography-is-not-destiny/

    I agree with you though that a heck of a lot of problems would be solved if someone invented a gestation machine. A cheap one, of course. Then social reproduction wouldn’t require control over the bodies of women.

  2. Cass

    I’ve tried to find Cafe Mundi a number of times, but have never succeeded. Perhaps its magically shielded from the eyes of the unhip.

    I wouldn’t fret too much over the conclusions of this article either… they’re based on hidden assumptions that have been discredited many times before.

  3. BCollie49

    “Patriarchy also leads men to keep having children until they produce at least one son.”

    I want to see men have those children without the help or consent of a woman, eggs in a petri dish included.

    The article is ridiculous and a crock.

  4. Twisty

    “hey’re based on hidden assumptions that have been discredited many times before.”

    It seems fantastic that class and political ideology could somehow be bound to human DNA.

    But Mandos Mandos Mandos. Reproduction doesn’t “require control over the bodies of women.” That’s just what patriarchy wants you to think.

  5. Frumious B

    We don’t even have a decent pundit

    We got you, babe. I come here when I read , and I always feel better. Well, actually, I feel angrier, but at least I know there are other angry people.

  6. Frumious B

    ok, how did I screw up that tag? I wish there was a preview option…

  7. jami

    laura flanders is a strong pundit.

  8. Mandos

    But Mandos Mandos Mandos. Reproduction doesn’t “require control over the bodies of women.” That’s just what patriarchy wants you to think.

    I said “social reproduction”. And a bunch of other forms of reproduction perhaps. Obviously, the act of gestating children in itself doesn’t require control over women.

  9. antelope

    Katha Pollitt is a strong pundit.

    I also like your neighbor Molly Ivins a lot, but Katha is more consistent about blaming the patriarch

  10. Pony

    “something something pundit.”

    There’s you. And there’s a few here:

    http://www.rabble.ca

  11. Cass

    Pollitt is very good. Of course, the definition of a prominent pundit in America today does NOT include anyone who does much else besides regurgitate the complacent stupidity of our ruling class once or twice weekly, a la Brooks or Friedman.

  12. Pony

    Another abortion how-to site. I’m not vouching for these; just passing along information.

    http://www.womenonwaves.org/set-1020.191-en.html

  13. Twisty

    Yeah, I knew everyone was going to bring up Ivins and Pollitt, and they’re great, but I meant someone who registers on the Richter scale à la Bill O’Reilly or something. I’d even settle for a Jon Stewart-type jokey fake pundit.

    As for me, at a few thousand readers a day, I hardly qualify.

  14. Twisty

    Cass, just drive down E.5th until you encounter the building pictured above. Then look across the street. There it is. The elusive Café Mundi. It’s not that far east of 35.

  15. Pony

    What is the rule about us posting bits of your oeuvre elsewhere? Usenet, rightist sites, forums, to mainstream journalists writing on the same issue but missing, how you say, THE POINT.

  16. pslade

    Well dear Twisty…we say you DO register! I’d say a 9.2 on the Richter. Let’s shake ‘em up.

    I say we start getting these posts and threads together….find us an agent….and hit the airways!

    I like the jokey, RIDICULE pundit idea a lot!

    Right now I must go march for PEACE on the 3rd anniversary of this damn war. After reading this, I believe I will take my ‘Stop the War on Women’ sign. And on the back…’Patriarchy Loves War.’

    Blame!

  17. deborahL

    Call me contrarian (it’s OK, it’s a compliment)—-I think Longman makes an excellent point, well supported by historical trends. The “Crooked Timber” piece, by comparison, does nothing to logically refute it; their argument is weak and unsophisticated.

    Ladies, we may not like Longman’s message. It goes against everything we have believed in and practiced. That doesn’t make him wrong. As an historian by training, I take the long view and if you do that, you cannot help but observe repeating cycles of social behavior. Humans have invented little that’s new in their ways of organizing society. The good news in Longman’s piece is that eventually the pendulum will swing back, and the increasingly conservative and patriarchal society we find ourselves in now will one day morph back into a progressive and liberal state. Unfortunately, that will probably not be in our own lifetimes. So enjoy what we have while we have it. It cannot last, given our current demographic trends. And don’t worry about the structure of a future society that you won’t be here to witness. Unless you have children…

  18. Mandos

    Did you read the comments to the Crooked Timber piece?

    Do you believe it’s fully cyclical or simply epicyclic? That is, do later cycles tend to be “better” than previous cycles?

  19. Cass

    “So enjoy what we have while we have it. It cannot last, given our current demographic trends.”

    In fact, the younger generation of Americans comes out in every poll as socially more liberal, by a long shot, than their elders. For that matter, the population of this country as a whole is quite a bit more liberal than its leaders- not only on birth control and abortion, but on health care, foreign policy, and a wealth of other issues. The problem isn’t that progressives are being overwhelmed by numbers (though the media never ceases to portray us as a fringe minority), its that the conservative political machine has proven vastly more effective at gathering political and media power than the people charged with protecting our interests. (And the motivation of a group seized with paranoia and rage, as today’s conservatives are, always makes for a political force all out of proportion to the group’s numbers.)

  20. deborahL

    Cass,

    Fellow progressives have been making this argument that the current leadership is unrepresentative of the nation for some time. I think it’s an excuse not to address the fundamental problems in our own camp—akin to saying that the other guys just cheated. Well they did cheat, that much is clear. But you cannot do that and get away with it unless the majority of the bystanders take your side. That media machine means something. It translates into winning power and retaining it. It means that the people in power have convinced millions of citizens to vote against their own self-interests.

    Polling numbers don’t mean squat. Polls can be conducted to prove any point you care to prove. What matters is the ballot box. Voting trends among young voters will show us whether they reject their parents’ conservatism or conform. I see a generation (or two) of extreme conformists out there in the USA, so I’ll be surprised if they vote progressive in significant numbers.

  21. deborahL

    Mandos, I think the notion of “progress” is over-rated.

  22. Amanda Marcotte

    Longman is being an ass–I’ve written on this before, and frankly I reject claims that one can increase your power strictly through numbers to be ridiculous. If that were true, then wherefore all the various forms of apartheid? From the whites over black is South Africa to men over the majority group women to the teeny minority of wealthy Americans over the rest of us, apartheid is solid evidence that you don’t need the numbers to gain control of power.

  23. deborahL

    Amanda—reject it if you want to, but no one can control a group without its implicit consent. Any time a minority siezes control, it is done with the acquiesence of the majority. All the majority would have to do is band together and revolt in order to remove the minority from power (see “American Revolution” for an example). If they do not revolt, then they are signalling their implicit willingness to be dominated. This should surprise no one. There are plenty of individuals who prefer to have someone else tell them what to do and/or believe. This basic fact of human nature makes it relatively easy for a smart and unscrupulous minority to sieze power. Once in power, it is very easy to use force to retain that power until some counter-force outweighs it (see “South Africa” for example).

    BTW, how does jejeune name-calling advance your “argument”?

  24. Mandos

    Mandos, I think the notion of “progress” is over-rated.

    I could guess this. There is a large faction in historical thought, as I understand it, that views history as purely cyclical. (The other extreme being fringe Kurzweilian transhumanism/Singularitism.) I’m willing to concede on a certain amount of cyclicity. But it’s hard for me to ignore the fact that ideas have accumulated over time.

    I find that this particular view of history you’re giving us is inherently prone to quietism. It appears that history is simply tides that human action cannot control, instead of a series of moral choices.

  25. Hattie

    Cah talk. And Keillor, who will be allowed to blovulate at the Annual League of Women Voters Convention in Minneapolis. I’m going anyway, and I’ll try to remain conscious while he entertains. Boy that is boring stuff, you know.
    I Blame, I Blame.

  26. Chris Clarke

    Breeding, breeding, breeding! I tell you, we must figure out how to get this thing done in a petrie dish!

    What does Mary Tyler Moore have to do with this?

    (“Until the oppressed women of the world throw the stultifying hat of patriarchy into the bracing northern air of gender justice, none of us will make it after all.”)

  27. Hattie

    that’s bloviate. I’m very dull today.

  28. Mandos

    I kind of like “blovulate” though.

  29. thebewilderness

    DoborahL,
    I think you mistake human nature for early childhood training. Obedience, conformity, dependence on authority are demanded from earliest childhood. In fact people actually force babies to regulate their need for food and sleep to a schedule acceptable to the authority. I blame the patriarchy.

  30. Cass

    “…no one can control a group without its implicit consent. Any time a minority siezes control, it is done with the aquiesence of the majority. All the majority have to do is band together and revolt in order to remove the minority from power. If they do not revolt, then they are signalling their implicit willingness to be dominated.”

    A version of this argument has been used against victims of domestic violence for years, with the obvious ideological slant that people in power always possesses a certain legitimacy, and everyone else asks for and deserves what they get. Needless to say, however, these kind of metaphysical assumptions have nothing to do with the complexities of power, whether you’re talking on the personal or the political level. So much for all that. What interested me about that article was the author’s definition of patriarchy, in particular that strange attempt to suggest that misogyny is a completely different affair altogther!! My friends, I’m here to tell you it isn’t; and hopefully I’ll have the time to discuss this more at length tomorrow…

  31. Twisty

    “What interested me about that article was the author’s definition of patriarchy, in particular that strange attempt to suggest that misogyny is a completely different affair altogther!!”

    Yes!! I actually intended to address this in the post, but I am very dull today, too, and I got distracted by a plate of nachos.

  32. Mandos

    Mmmm, nachos. With guacamole with chilies. And sour cream. Mmmm.

  33. flossie

    If the FP article is right, the upside—albeit a rather depressing one—for patriarchy-blamers is that we will not have to worry about our descendants (since we won’t have any) trying to live in a globally-warmed, uterus-surveilled, perpetually-at-war future.

  34. trope

    “Car Talk”?

  35. Kerlyssa

    “Car Talk” is a show by two or more men with very loud, braying laughs who find their callers very amusing. More than this I do not know, as I roll over and turn my clock radio up louder when their show starts to drift in and contaminate my space.

  36. Chris Clarke

    At the risk of being the clueless male who pipes up to Defend Men Against Mean Old Feminists, I will say the Car Talk guys have been known to do things such as encouraging their women callers to suvert or challenge misogynistic auto mechanics – although they generally use phrases such as “sexist” or “chauvinist” to do so. They also seem, to me, to condescend to women only as much as they condescend to everyone else.

    However, as I’ve said before, every single brain cell writing this comment has a Y chromosome in it, and thus I sometimes miss the obvious. So salt to taste.

  37. Chris Clarke

    That should be SUB-vert, not SUV-ert.

  38. Burrow Klown

    AH Cafe Mundi, how I miss thee (it’s easier to find on a bike)

    As for the rest, well I’m takeing the day off, though obviously not from reading, just from doing analyses of patriarchy. I spent all day yesterday arguing with a post modernist and am ready to explode.

  39. Violet Socks

    I have an SUV. Ert.

  40. Ms Kate

    Well, left wing bonobos resort to copious asexual reproduction when confronted with decreasing rights at the hands of fundamentalist right-wing bonobos, as the wingnut bonobos won’t participate in the traditional sexual mediation exchanges without a load of guilt and shame.

  41. Sunya Harjis

    Ooo what a bunch of Debbie Downers! Here’s a happy story.

    I was at work yesterday – chatting up the fellows by the coffee urns, of course – and an old trucker dude saunters in to fill up his coffee cup (Sunya works in logistics like Apollo himself.) The urns are empty, heavens be! The old dude glares around and, settling on me, the only woman in the room, he mutters darkly: “…what kind of a place is this… they got women working heyah… and thay ain’t no coffee made…” Then he shuffled out with his empty cup.

    Success Story Punchline: that was the first time in my entire life such a thing had ever happened to me. That was it! My very first encounter with open, naked, Make Me Some Biscuits, Bitch! sexism. And everyone in the coffee lounge took my side (what a pig!) instead of his (there’s no coffee and it’s all your fault!)

    I kind of glided on post-feminist happiness for the rest of the day – momentarily secure in the knowledge that much progress has been made, even if we have so much further to go. Thanks to all you old fighters for the cause. Thanks, ladies! You took the coffee yoke off my shoulders and, even though I’m still eating The Man’s shit, at least I get to work a good job and I’m not considered a failure for not having a husband and children. I get to wear pants! And people have to address me politely and without condescension despite my almost toxic levels of Having Female Genitalia. I’m heavily outnumbered in the weight room at the gym, but I still get to go to the gym, and it is actually against the law for anyone to give me shit about taking too long on the shoulder press. My aunts still tell me about how it used to be inconceivable for a woman to exercise at all!

    Fucking yes it still sucks to be a woman, but it sucks a lot less than it used to – abortion bans notwithstanding. I’m grateful for that. Don’t let all the bad news crush your will to keep kicking, women.

  42. Amanda Marcotte

    Any time a minority siezes control, it is done with the acquiesence of the majority. All the majority would have to do is band together and revolt in order to remove the minority from power (see “American Revolution” for an example).

    That’s plain ol’ indefensible victim-blaming. The majority of Americans were not revolutionaries, for one thing. You’d be hard-pressed to argue that black people implicitly consented to be enslaved, and yet they were. And you’re really be hard-pressed to say that black people living in South Africa went willingly with their oppression. Oh yeah, and it’s not like the untouchables in India are known for stupid acquiesence to their fate. And boy, those union people in the first half of the 20th century couldn’t really be described as consenting, either.

    I could continue, but I think you get the picture. There are many things besides sheer population that factor into whether or not a group can attain power. The rich don’t have more bodies, but they do have more dollars. In general, minorities ruling over majorities have more education, more opportunities, more resources and more guns. Revolt (like the American Revolution) doesn’t get its power from numbers–they get their power by obtaining something that the rulers don’t have. (Americans had the home team advantage and while their support wasn’t as high as we’d hope, they had more support than the British soliders did back home.) And even with that, many lives were lost, which is a pretty strong argument in and of itself against the idea that seizing power is simple.

  43. Violet Socks

    Jesus God! I just went and read the Longman piece.

    Why oh why oh why is anyone taking this seriously? Because he’s a “senior fellow” at somewhere or other? He’s a reporter. He knows NOTHING about history or anthropology. God, it is so fucking irritating to see asswipes like this pontificate on things about which they know ZIP.

  44. scratchy888

    Why is it considered that the only way to influence somebody is to give birth to them?? Or is it that one’s ideological upbringing during during the childhood years is necessarily destiny?

    Lots of strange presumptions.

  45. deborahL

    those union people in the first half of the 20th century couldn’t really be described as consenting, either

    As I recall, kind of the point of the labor movement was to band together and use numbers to force the capitalists into concessions. With sufficient numbers, you create power even when the members of the group are themselves individually powerless. Do you honestly think that if low-caste Indians made up over half the population of India and if they banded together in a solid front that they wouldn’t be able to unseat the elite? You give them no credit as fully independent thinking humans if you believe that.

    My post has nothing to do with victim-blaming. It’s all about how a sufficient mass, empowered to act in unity, can overcome domination by a minority. The flip side of that is that the mass which is not empowered and which is fragmented and factious, cannot act with sufficient power to overthrow even a small-minority power establishment.

  46. Burrow Klown

    to deborahL, yeah that’s kind of how the IWW worked (and still works)

  47. deborahL

    asswipes like this pontificate on things about which they know ZIP

    Maybe they are paying attention because he actually took the time to assemble some facts and analyze them through the filter of knowledge and experience, tempered by reflection. Unlike people who dismiss anyone they disagree with by using trashy language and slinging lies around.

    That could be the reason.

  48. Mandos

    My post has nothing to do with victim-blaming. It’s all about how a sufficient mass, empowered to act in unity, can overcome domination by a minority. The flip side of that is that the mass which is not empowered and which is fragmented and factious, cannot act with sufficient power to overthrow even a small-minority power establishment.

    Do you realize that you’ve covered the universe of possibilities and therefore told us nothing?

  49. antelope

    So getting back to the subject of pundits – how about Ani Difranco? She has an audience of more than a few thousand & says stuff every bit as profound as you can find anywhere at all in a mainstream newspaper nowadays. I have yet to meet a woman under 30 who doesn’t think it’s just terribly exciting that I have some of her tapes, too…

  50. wabewawa

    I do sincerely hope that this will continue to be a place where I can count on some so-called “jejune name-calling” and “trashy language.” I’ve got an absolute vocabulary jones for godbag and fucktard now, for example (in addition to my own regular old standby of asshat), which can only be somewhat sated here, it would seem. There are just too many patriarchybots who deserve those epithets, and worse.

  51. shannon w.

    I like cobag too! Name calling is fun, so is calling people on their shit.

  52. Cass

    “we associate patriarchy with the hideous abuse of women and children… Yet these are examples of insecure societies that have degenerated into male tyrannies, and they do not represent the form of patriarchy that has achieved evolutionary advantage in human history.”

    Under the impression that “true” patriarchy has anything to do with rape, wife-murder, child abuse, or those forms of irrational hysteria that result in fascism or religious fundamentalism? Why, my dears, you’re mistaken!! Patriarchy is really about everyone caring deeply about the welfare of the next generation. And while it is true that women have to pay have to pay for this with their freedom and status, its only evolution, you know, and you can’t argue with that!!

    As Wolcott would say, this gentleman is full of the ripest fertilizer. This doesn’t fit the facts of current or past history, and represents yet another of an endless line of attempts by writers trying to rehabilitate the idea of “patriarchy” by trying to define it away from its more obviously horrifying manifestations. (And as we all discussed earlier, shoddy arguments from the supposed laws of evolution are the last refuge of apologists for the status quo these days.)
    Patriarchy identifies itself with certain institutions and ideas in society (God, the State, the Church, Father Knows Best, etc.) which (like the superego in the individual mind) protect those afflicted with its delusions from the horrors of chaos and ego dissolution. A challenge to or loss of faith in these institutions- as for instance happened during the Reformation, after WW1 in Germany, or in the 60s and 70s here in America- usually guarantees a patriarchal bachlash such as the one we’re all experiencing right now. (An infusion of feminine values into society, as also happened during the 60s, is always an additional source of conservative insecurity.) The fawning over a supposed Great Leader, the enthusiasm for war and bloody visions of the Apocalypse, and the return of a dictatorial God… they’re all symptoms of the same disease, along with restrictions on abortion, and all those other matters we discuss here on a daily basis. No can can say what the future will be, but its not very hard, I think, to see how we got to where we are today.

  53. trope

    Well, Chris, I’ve got my double-X chromosome radar up, and I’m also not offended by the Car Talk. There’s the taint of patriarchy there (when the male caller consults Tom and Ray on what kind of car will snag him the chicks, and they provide advice), but if I were spearheading the revolution, they’re certainly nowhere near the top of the list titled, “People to Ship to Mars”.

  54. Cass

    Personally, I really like “Car Talk”…

  55. Violet Socks

    he actually took the time to assemble some facts and analyze them through the filter of knowledge and experience

    I wish you were kidding, but based on your other comments I don’t think you are.

    Longman’s analysis is the sociological equivalent of creationist “science.” It’s so full of logical fallacies, factual errors, and gigantic holes suitable for semi-tractor-trailer traffic that perjorative dismissal is the first thing that comes to mind. I would post a refutation of it on my blog — and maybe I still will — but I grimace at spending that much time on the crap. The more attention that is paid to foolishness like this, the more it is invested with a gravitas it doesn’t deserve.

  56. Amanda Marcotte

    You give them no credit as fully independent thinking humans if you believe that.

    No, you’re actually the one insulting them. If it’s so frigging obvious that all people need to do is band together and take power–if it really is simple–than the only reason people could be oppressed would be because they’re stupid or like being oppressed.

    Truth is overthrowing oppression is a task that depletes your group’s numbers via being mowed down by the oppressors. Black people, if I’m not mistaken, were the majority in huge parts of the South in the slave days and indeed there were tons of slave revolts. But that never got rid of slavery–what it took was for a bigger army to come in and kick the South’s ass and even that was only done at the cost of 600,000 lives.

  57. femhist

    I looove me some Car Talk. My feminist mom played it all the time when I was growing up, and I continue the tradition whenever I’m by a radio of a weekend. I really feel that their contribution to the patriarchy is tiny-to-nonexistant, braying notwithstanding.

  58. AntipodeanKate

    It’s funny how many children of conservative types end up as fairly free-thinking individuals who reject the conservatism of their parents.

    If we accepted the notion that being born into a certain society meant implicity accepting everything that society presented as a given, then societies would never change — ever. They would be ossified in time with every generation doing everything in exactly the same way as it was done before. History shows us — contrary to what DeborahL asserts — that socities can change rapidly and dramatically, and these changes reflect a number of things, not just birthrates and demographics.

    We all know that conservatism has seen an upswing in recent years. Can it be reversed? I don’t know.

    I do doubt that we free-thinkers are breeding outselves out of existence because I don’t believe liberalism is a genetic trait. I think as long as we continue to try to change society, we can pass on our ideas and values to others around us. It’s when we go “oh, it’s all too hard and they’re beatng us” that we will indeed be beaten.

  59. Lorenzo

    There is no reason to meet Longman’s argument with anything except open derrison.

    Anyone who fails to grasp that the essential nature of patriachy is to reproduce male class rule not ro reproduce humanity in general, when the very definition of patriachy is ‘rule of the fathers’ doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously.

  60. Lorenzo

    To expand on my previous post;

    Longman writes:

    Patriarchal societies come in many varieties and evolve through different stages. What they have in common are customs and attitudes that collectively serve to maximize fertility and parental investment in the next generation. Of these, among the most important is the stigmatization of “illegitimate” children. One measure of the degree to which patriarchy has diminished in advanced societies is the growing acceptance of out-of-wedlock births, which have now become the norm in Scandinavian countries, for example.

    No. This argument merely abstracts patriachy from all of its content. It is not a strategy for maximizing human reproduction, it is explicitly a structure for reproducing the rule and wealth of men by exploiting women, as a class, to reproduce a society antithetical to their interests. In other words, the purpose of a patriachal structure of social reproduction is to reproduce patriachy, not society in general but a specific social structure.

    Under patriarchy, “bastards” and single mothers cannot be tolerated because they undermine male investment in the next generation. Illegitimate children do not take their fathers’ name, and so their fathers, even if known, tend not to take any responsibility for them. By contrast, “legitimate” children become a source of either honor or shame to their fathers and the family line. The notion that legitimate children belong to their fathers’ family, and not to their mothers’, which has no basis in biology, gives many men powerful emotional reasons to want children, and to want their children to succeed in passing on their legacy. Patriarchy also leads men to keep having children until they produce at least one son.

    Wrong again, and on all counts. Longman completely misses what is essential here; the patriachal mode of social reproduction exists to produce children as male property and in particular to produce male heirs. The social construction of fatherhood was a justification for the appropriation of children by men, which is self-evidently the purpose of ‘the rule of the fathers.’

    Another key to patriarchy’s evolutionary advantage is the way it penalizes women who do not marry and have children. Just decades ago in the English-speaking world, such women were referred to, even by their own mothers, as spinsters or old maids, to be pitied for their barrenness or condemned for their selfishness. Patriarchy made the incentive of taking a husband and becoming a full-time mother very high because it offered women few desirable alternatives.

    Longman here again misses the essential. Patriachy must compel women to reproduce because male class rule is antithetical to women’s interests and they therefore must be forced to socially reproduce patriachy. The mechanism, furthermore, was not incentive but compulsion. Women were forced to alienate their bodies to men in return for a subsistence because they were barred from realizing a subsistence through any means that didn’t involve dependence on men. The model of women as chattel property was not necessary to maximize human reproduction but rather to exploit women for the purposes of reproducing male class rule.

  61. Betsy

    “if I were spearheading the revolution, they’re certainly nowhere near the top of the list titled, “People to Ship to Mars”

    Trope, you made me splurt my hot chocolate.

    Now, back to serious business: can anyone tell me how to do quotes in italics? I don’t think I can progress to level 3 patriarchy-blaming until I learn that.

  62. Mandos

    Wrong again, and on all counts. Longman completely misses what is essential here; the patriachal mode of social reproduction exists to produce children as male property and in particular to produce male heirs. The social construction of fatherhood was a justification for the appropriation of children by men, which is self-evidently the purpose of ‘the rule of the fathers.’

    I’ve often wondered how far one must take the implications of this. Is a just world for women a world in which men do not inherit? Or is this a more general argument against property as such?

    Also, I don’t know how a critique of Longman’s definition of patriarchy serves to respond to what I think is the basic thesis here: that patriarchy is better at reproducing itself than movements against patriarchy because, unlike them, patriarchy is explicitly invested in controlling women’s bodies to reproduce itself.

  63. Twisty

    Besty, please refer to this HTML cheatsheet for all your comment tag needs. Scroll down a bit for the text tags. The reason I don’t just type it here is that WordPress turns all typed examples into the example itself.

    Note: it is imperative that you close your tags. If you don’t, everything that comes after your comment will be italicized.

  64. Cass

    However grim the current landscape is, its important to remember that the patriarchy (in the West, at least) has suffered more reverses the past 200 years than at any time since its invention. (The very fact that Child Protective Services exists, or that so many women’s shelters have sprung up in the last 30 years are just two examples of this.) I don’t know whether this is due to industrialization, capitalism, the Enlightenment, some general evolution of the human psyche, or a combination of these; but the reactionaries obviously know the ground is shifting beneath their feet, and that explains a lot of their current hysteria…

  65. Charles

    Twisty, thanks for the link to the html cheatsheet. I’m nowhere near level 3 patriarchy blaming but now I have a shot at putting italics into my comments correcty. Ya gotta start somewhere.

  66. Kate

    Based on the premise of the Longman article, that higher birthrates spell success for a nation, then why aren’t Africa or India ruling the world?

    To my observation, what will be important to the survival of a nation, outside of their control of natural resources, will be the value of their human capital.

    Longman points to the Roman’s successes in battle based on the higher number of citizens available for the military. Rome had mandatory service for some classes and also harbored a large pool of slave labor.

    Most of the work to be completed in the times up to the present industrial/technical age have demanded more quantity of human capital than quality. Today that does not hold as control or survival of a sovreign nation lies more in the value of the human capital they have.

    In other words, I’d posit that ten tomato pickers from Juarez, Mexico might be equal in value to one software developer in Bejing or a scientist in Stockholm. Although tomato pickers are important, their investment is not as great and thus their value is lower. In countries that have high birthrates, many tomato pickers may abound, but skilled, educated labor will be scarce as the higher birth rate sucks up even most of the resources of the country. If the country chooses to not invest in their population, or cannot, then they have less human capital to compete globally.

    Leaving Bush and some of the crackpots of the world out for now, most of the world must survive by negotiating with eachother over resources, trading back and forth for survival. Those countries that cannot or will not struggle to survive, or like in America’s case, not only struggle to survive, but struggle with the negotiation model completely and threaten their own survival. Also, to make war and conduct invasions as in Roman times would be foolhardy and detrimental to future trade status.

    The days when Hannibal took the mountain and moved forward are gone, although we know that anyone can behave that way, as Bush has so well illustrated, the warrior mode does not work well in the long run. No one these days is hanging natives by their ankles, raping their children and running off with the gold without at least some serious ramifications on the global diplomacy front. Well, alright, not major countries at least.

    Well, alright, not in their own countries at least. But even social systems as apartheid that support (and the system remains) wholesale raping of a people’s own resources, or the slave trade upon which the south was based.

    The south lays in a shambles to this day because its economy was based on exploitation. The mill industry of the east died when slavery and came to an end.
    My point being that economies and political constructs based on human exploitation cannot survive in the same manner as they did even one hundred years ago. For Longman to construct a thesis for our future based on social constructs of thousands of years ago, or even 200 years ago is silly.

    Also, the post ignores what many have mentioned and that is that both conservatives and liberals tend to reduce their reproduction as their incomes and living standards rise. Women don’t want to reproduce in large numbers and neither do men. When given other options, as Longman knows, women and men will choose to opt out of parenting or scale it down.

    But, this is more an economic issue I’d posit than an ideological issue. I feel just as comfortable making the assumption from my own observation, that those who choose to reproduce at higher numbers are by and large, not the most educated and thus not economically viable of people. There are exceptions to this rule, but as I said, by and large the most uneducated, unskilled and thus, most tending toward high birthrates will be the least prepared to contribute to society and also the least likely to participate in the political realm.

    This bears out all over the world as studies have shown that birth rates rise in countries where war, famine or anarchy abound. Some might say this is evidence of the human effort to survive. In America, those families that reproduce more have less to lose, less equity, less savings or retirement and thus less concern for the usurpation of their resources that baby making demands. They are the ones that reproduce at the greatest numbers.

    A large number of the poorest families, first generation immigrants included, tend to shy away from political participation, including and most importantly, voting, unless assisted or spurned to action by a sense of connection with the rest of society.

    Also, conservatism as described by Longman, assumes an anglo-american, euro-centric conservatism which although in the minds of old white male pundits, doesn’t necessarily encompass the kind of political or social bent that many people and young people reflect.

    Also, as people enjoy the comforts bestowed upon them through a free educational system, the concept of equal rights under the law (I say the concept) and the protection and acceptance of minorities, social conservatism as a white male patrirachal construct begins to fall apart. This is exactly what is happening and persons like longman who for whatever reason, I personally cannot relate to, cling to roman history as the high point of humanity, wring their hands at the thought that in many ways, we now make the Romans look like mere barbarians while we slowly move farther and farther away from caesar and his ranks.

  67. Caitlin

    The LDS church is operating under this principle, and it is not working out for them. It fails to take into consideration the fact that limited modes of living – whether intellectually, emotionally, sexually, socially or physically – are not a part of human nature. If they were, then there would be no history of slave revolts, no history of ‘uppity women’, no peasant uprisings, no history of resistance anywhere at all, with the exception of the occassional squirmish. Whether one considers this to be progress or not, the facts remain and they are undeniable.

    If this man and his theory was correct, I’d be knocked up with my third kid, barefoot and pregnant at home, wearing funky knee length underwear with Masonic drawings on it and baking my bread from scratch. He assumes that people are not individuals, that they operate exclusively with a herd mentality, and that they are unchanging and fixed from the moment of birth through death.

    I don’t even see anything in any of the historical patterns I know of that could bear out what he is saying. To me it just sounds like wishful thinking.

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