All the way back in 1973, George Gilder published a book entitled Men and Marriage. He expanded and republished it in 1986. In his book, Gilder argued that our culture was marginalizing men, to its great peril. He articulated the critical role that marriage has in helping men focus their sexual energies in a creative and beneficial way. Women have their nurturing role rather clearly defined in the very design of their bodies. But men’s role in the raising of children and in society in general is less evident. The traditional family gave men a rather clearly defined role that had dignity and supplied them with the feeling that they were needed, indeed essential.
But, as Gilder showed even then, much of that has been stripped away. Feminism and the sexual revolution are sources of the erosion, along with other deleterious social effects. And the erosion of esteem for the roles of husband, father, provider, and leader is hurting not only men, but children, women, and our culture as a whole. For when the sexual energies of men are not channeled toward creative ends, they tend toward destructive ones.
Gilder’s description of the problem is in full blossom today, and more and more social commentators now describe men as increasingly a combination of angry, disengaged, dysfunctional, cynical, fearful, and legally and socially constrained. The wider culture, heavily influenced by feminism, often depicts men as sexual predators, drinkers, imbeciles, buffoons, and as stupid and immature. And after consuming a steady diet of these portraits, some men do indeed display some of these traits.
Over the years, we have discussed many aspects of the problem on this blog. Most significantly, we have focused on the apparent lack of connection that young people today have with the ideas of courtship, dating, and marriage. Marriage is delayed any many are never getting there at all. The com-box lights up whenever I write on these matters. Many commenters are bewildered, like me, but others are young people who are quite angry and cynical about one another. Our culture has really poisoned the atmosphere between the sexes. Promiscuity makes even simple flirtation fraught with a sense of danger, and merely unwanted attention becomes the stuff of sexual harassment. The men who write in are the bitterest of all. One man wrote, “Sure women are beautiful but that is where the appeal stops. The relationship is nothing but trouble and power struggle, and I risk losing everything, everything!”
Welcome to the world of post-radical-feminism and the post-sexual-revolution. It is a toxic world for romance, let alone the deeper values of marital and family love. It is toxic for men and for women, but most tragically it is toxic for children, who are often raised in a culture of deepening confusion and conflict in its most necessary component: the traditional family.
There is an article on Brietbart that articulates the problem for men and their anger. It is a lengthy article, and I should warn you that if you click on the link to the article in the previous sentence you will read some rather “raw” language. But frankly, it IS raw out there today for increasing numbers of young people, who have inherited the whirlwind of the sexual revolution and radical feminism. It is a lonely world, a world in which hostility and widespread promiscuity have destroyed innocence and poisoned relationships between young men and women that used to be natural and oriented toward marriage and family.
Here are some excerpts of the article, which I present here as a kind of log of the cultural decline we are experiencing. The quotes from the article are in bold italics, while my comments are in plain red text.
Social commentators, journalists, academics, scientists and young men themselves have all spotted the trend: among men of about 15 to 30 years old, ever-increasing numbers are checking out of society altogether, giving up on women, sex and relationships and retreating into pornography, sexual fetishes, chemical addictions, video games and, in some cases, boorish [male] culture, all of which insulate them from a hostile, debilitating social environment created, some argue, by the modern feminist movement.
Of course in retreating from an ugly world, they dwell in an even uglier one. But to them it seems to feel less threatening, more predictable, and less complicated. Gilder discusses the observation that if men cannot be encouraged to commit to the creative and constructive relationship of the family, they will (as sociological studies show) tend toward destructive and damaging relationships that range from violent ones (gangs) to less harmful but disengaged ones like gaming, or drinking.
You can hardly blame them. Cruelly derided as man-children and crybabies for objecting to absurdly unfair conditions in college, bars, clubs and beyond, men are damned if they do and damned if they don’t: ridiculed as basement-dwellers for avoiding aggressive, demanding women with unrealistic expectations, or called rapists and misogynists merely for expressing sexual interest.
The new rules men are expected to live by are never clearly explained, … leaving [males] clueless and neurotic about interacting with [women]. “That might sound like a good thing because it encourages men to take the unromantic but practical approach of asking women how they should behave, but it causes a lot of them to just opt out of the game and retreat to the sanctuary of their groups … where being rude to women gets you approval, and you can pretty much entirely avoid one-on-one socialising with the opposite sex.”
Here, too, this “retreat” cannot receive approval, but some understanding of the disgust and fear that underlies it may be important. Generally, men used to seek the company of women and seek a wife. Now they do not. What has changed? While some aspects of the women’s movement were necessary (better access to jobs, fairer compensation, etc.) there now seems to have been an overcorrection, such that women now outrank men in terms of many indicators of social success such as graduation levels, income, and legal access to benefits and rights. Many men find the legal and legislative world hostile to them and discover that it is politically incorrect to say that the “corrections” are now harming men.
Women have been sending men mixed messages for the last few decades, leaving boys utterly confused about what they are supposed to represent to women, which perhaps explains the strong language some of them use when describing their situation. As the role of breadwinner has been taken away from them by women who earn more and do better in school, men are left to intuit what to do, trying to find a virtuous mean between what women say they want and what they actually pursue, which can be very different things.
Men say the gap between what women say and what they do has never been wider. Men are constantly told they should be delicate, sensitive fellow travelers on the feminist path. But the same women who say they want a nice, unthreatening boyfriend go home and swoon over simple-minded, giant-chested, testosterone-saturated hunks in Game of Thrones. Men know this, and, for some, this giant inconsistency makes the whole game look too much like hard work. Why bother trying to work out what a woman wants, when you can play sports, [self-gratify through masturbation] or just play video games from the comfort of your bedroom?
Yes, men speak to me all the time about such mixed messages, both here at the blog and in ministerial settings. Women make it very difficult to understand what they want. Part of the problem is that women are not monolithic. Different women want different things. But even with an individual woman, many men struggle to understand. Women have always had, in every culture and time, a “lot of moving parts.” But the frenetic and ephemeral quality of modern culture puts the inconsistencies on steroids and leaves a lot of men bewildered and angry.
Again, the retreat of men into lesser or native activities cannot be approved. But in merely reporting it here I do not do so. It is important to examine the trend and to try to understand it, since even many churchgoing Catholic males are manifesting these attitudes and behaviors.
The article goes on to discuss what drives women to exhibit the behaviors that men are fleeing. Here, too, you do not need to accept all that is said here or read it in terms of assigning blame. But women have widely changed their behavior, and once again it is good to ask why.
Women today are schooled in victimhood, taught to be aggressively vulnerable and convinced that the slightest of perceived infractions, approaches or clumsy misunderstandings represents “assault,” “abuse” or “harassment.” That may work in the safe confines of campus, where men can have their academic careers destroyed on the mere say-so of a female student … academics such as Camille Paglia have been warning for years that “rape drives” on campus put women at greater risk, if anything … damage [is] being done to them by the onset of absurd, unworkable, prudish and downright misandrist laws such as California’s “Yes Means Yes” legislation—and by third-wave feminism … which is currently enjoying a hysterical last gasp before women themselves reject it.
Another root of the problem is the school system, both public and private. We have discussed on this blog many times before that normal boyhood has been demonized and treated as something to be medicated away.
In schools today across Britain and America, boys are relentlessly pathologised, as academics were warning as long ago as 2001. Boyishness and boisterousness have come to be seen as “problematic,” with girls’ behavior a gold standard against which these defective boys are measured. When they are found wanting, the solution is often drugs. One in seven American boys will be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at some point in their school career. Millions will be prescribed a powerful mood stabilizer such as Ritalin, for the crime of being born male. The side effects of these drugs can be hideous and include sudden death.
Meanwhile, boys are falling behind girls academically, perhaps because relentless and well-funded focus has been placed on girls’ achievement in the past few decades and little to none on the boys who are now achieving lower grades, fewer honors, fewer degrees and less marketable information economy skills. Boys’ literacy, in particular, is in crisis throughout the West. We’ve been obsessing so much over girls, we haven’t noticed that boys have slipped into serious academic trouble.
OK, so even if there was a need to correct and focus a bit more on girls, it looks as if we’ve overcorrected. This may not be politically correct, but it certainly looks as though the statistics indicate this.
Jack Donovan, a writer based in Portland who has written several books on men and masculinity, each of which has become a cult hit, says the phenomenon is already endemic among the adult population. “I see a lot of young men who would otherwise be dating and marrying giving up on women,” he explains, “Or giving up on the idea of having a wife and family. This includes both the kind of men who would traditionally be a little awkward with women, and the kind of men who aren’t awkward with women at all. “They’ve done a cost-benefit analysis and realized it is a bad deal. They know that if they invest in a marriage and children, a woman can take all of that away from them on a whim. He goes on: “Almost all young men have attended mandatory sexual harassment and anti-rape seminars, and they know that they can be fired, expelled, or arrested based more or less on the word of any woman. They know they are basically guilty until proven innocent in most situations.”
This is pretty clear and it is well aligned with what I am hearing, increasingly, from men.
Well, this is a tough topic to be sure. Not exactly the best topic for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception! However, it does illustrate well what happens when a culture loses its relative innocence, and sex becomes a toxic, cynical, fearful pursuit, one that is no longer tied to marriage and family. (Mondays are also my usual day for doing “culture check” articles.)
It will be admitted that not all young people are lost in this cycle, but increasing numbers are. A good start toward addressing the problem is raising awareness of and naming the demons. There was a time, not so long ago, when we got the courtship and marriage thing right … or at least largely right. People mostly got married and stay married. Our families weren’t perfect, but they functioned. Our culture wasn’t perfect—far from it—but its basic units and foundations were operative.
Have mercy on us Lord, and on the whole world.
49 Replies to “Matrimony or Bust – Another Glimpse at the Why and How of Traditional Marriage’s Demise”
Poignant article, Monsignor. Thank you. As a wife of nearly twenty years and a mother to several boys, I see in the world around us what you have described. I understand that you must necessarily generalize by using the word “women” in your article; it might be tedious to use “some women” or “modern women”, et al. For encouragement, I wish to add that not all women are so very difficult with many moving parts; not all women are domineering and ready to pounce legally on a man for the slightest misunderstanding. There are many good older women still available, and many wholesome, beautiful young women who still carry the hope of settling down with somebody special and raising a family. I’m raising both daughters and sons. Teaching the girls to be worthy of and to seek a level-headed man who’s engaged in life is no easier than teaching my sons to be those decent young men deserving of reasonable young women.
Seeing a subsequent article – or series of articles – on the reasons why people no longer “stay married” would be very welcomed.
I agree that men have become immature and fearful about commitments,
BUT i get tired of always hearing about how its women’s fault (ie feminism).
Why are your comments or articles always biased against women? I feel as though
I should feel sorry for men…and blame women for their dysfunctional behaviors in
I have yet to read an article which is the opposite side of the coin. Women are
untrusting because men have caused it through infidelity, etc.
I dont believe feminism is the cause…women have been treated badly and as
Property going back to ancient times. And women in America got tired of being
treated as servants. We deserve to be equals. Even though we have gender roles.
Id like to believe us women are the weaker sex, nurturing, sensitive, emotional, etc.
Perhaps a blog thats more balanced? As in my experience, ive gotten the short
end of the stick and lied to by men. Its hard to meet a good Catholic faithful man.
I know women who are married who have to work. They come home and their husbands expect them to cook and clean (because the domestic work is for women). How fair is that?
I know many women who have to put up with unfaithful or addictive behaviors from their husbands, in order to keep their families together. Would men do the same?
Please do not address comments with questions to me to me. I am quoting an article on a widely read site. Please comment on the issue, now you get your say. I am not the issue, the culture is the issue. If you want to go to town and recite all the ills men have, go for it and let other readers engage with you. The issue please, the issue.
But at a personal level (since you have sought to raise personal matters), I would also encourage you to avoid using words like “always” I have written 3000 articles and I have gotten plenty of venom from men too. Check your own attitude, work your own stuff and avoid drawing conclusions about someone else (like me) whom you have never even met. And it is obvious that you have not read a good deal of what I have published.
Thank you, Monsignor Pope. But to clarify, the PS was not intended towards you…but i see how those two separate comments got combined.
I have only read your posts this year and i recall a handful of posts blaming “femenism” for the cause of marriges or relationships not working out between heterosexuals.
And i agree with Lily Valley…
As someone who has, in the past, chided the Monsignor for his pointing of the stick at men, the idea that he “always biased against women” is risible.
Please point me to those posts, so that i can laugh too.
Here’s a sermon excerpt I published. a while back. I don’t have to find all the articles just now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iu0GqDojtTU
But maybe if you type men marriage manhood etc. you’ll find them. I am away from my main computer now.
Thank you, Monsignor Pope. 🙂
I can see where the article did have an anti-female subtext as quoted by the Msgr. As I was reading my mind jumped to “didn’t a man (or a group of men) allow this?” Prior to WWII, women rarely worked outside the home. After the war, men did not ask for their roles as breadwinner back. Society did not push for a return to what would have been considered “normal” at the time.
Just sayin, it’s not only the chicks who are to blame. There’s enough for everyone.
CBeltz, thank you….
One of the first-wave feminists’ criticisms was precisely that ‘Rosie the Riveter’ was expelled from the work force after WWII. Women in the work force was a lower-class necessity but a middle-class oddity (except for spinsters) until WWII came along, and after WWII it returned to being an anomaly until the mid-1970s. It didn’t really become the norm until the divorce culture got fully into gear.
This is BRILLIANT and I am SHARING it on http://www.fb.com/reginamagazine Father, we’d like to interview you on this topic for Regina Magazine’s Blog. If you’re interested, can you send me an email at [email protected]?
I’m a new reader. My husband introduced me and now I’m hooked. This is a great post, right on the money. Thank you for your honest, biblical stand. May God richly bless you and your ministry!
Monsignor, thank you for commenting on this issue. I believe the church has been awol on this issue.
For annaincalifornia, yes, there is plenty of blame to go around. IMO the problem is not women or men. The problem is the dysfunctional, counter-factual view of the sexes that we’ve adopted in the last few decades. It’s partly feminism, but it’s more “equalitarianism” — the idea that men and women are the same except for plumbing.
I address this somewhat in a short book I wrote, Eggs are Expensive, Sperm is Cheap.
Thank you, Crowhill, for understanding what i meant.
Wow Msgr. This is a great post and would be a wonderful idea for our next Young Adult Ministry Event, as it relates to our Spiritual Life.
Thank God for You, Thank God for the Blog!!!
I remember, before I was married, how hostile the culture appeared to be to what used to be a normal goal: marriage and family. I went to a University for undergrad that had an aggressive feminist sub-population that was highly organized and actively hostile to men. They had yearly “Take Back the Night” marches. Men were not invited. We were all suspects in the eyes of the radical feminist. Lousy dating atmosphere to say the least. Fortunately my grad work was at a much healthier locale where I found a traditional and wonderfully faithful wife right out of Proverbs 31.
Very interesting article. I’ve read many articles and studies about the differences among the economic classes regarding marriage.
For the most part, the higher socioeconomic classes are getting married and staying married at higher rates than those in lower SEC. They see that marriage matters, especially when there are children. At the same time, the elites, since the 60s, have worked to weaken marriage via politics, but the effects have come down much more heavy on those from lower SEC.
It’s a classic case of Do As I Say, Not As I Do.
You say the higher socioeconomic classes/elite are getting married and staying married (actions), while simultaneously working to weaken it via politics (proclaimed values), so wouldn’t that be “Do as I do, not as I say”? ie the action is what we should be imitating not the words?
Dear Msgr. Pope,
This is an excellent and direct analysis. I would like to add some historical depth pointing to why “professional” radical feminism is the way it is and why it has been so effective to this day. Modern feminism started in the Women’s Ku Klux Klan, and has been destroying men ever since.
Feminism: Today’s Women’s Ku Klux Klan
Things are not hopeless. We have adopted a method to avoid social and religious debates (which always end up avoiding the core issues), in favor of supply-side socioeconomics. We have learned to focus on policy since it is impossible to enact morals. This policy model rebuilds marriage without the usual debates, and does not contain ideological hamstrings that feminists can cut. We are using this policy method to replace no-fault divorce and get in front of the domestic violence problems in Missouri.
Balancing the budget with supply-side socioeconomics
Substance abuse laws: How to reduce gun and domestic violence
Mike McManus of Marriage Savers is on our exec board. We see his program as key to rebuilding a marriage culture from all the angst and anger out there.
We can and will put government back on track, one state at a time. We have the ability to do so because states and the federal government cannot afford the social, economic, criminal, and welfare liabilities that are driving budget deficits to levels that are unmanageable and irrecoverable.
David R. Usher
Center for Marriage Policy
One word: contraception. Contraception essentially removes reproduction from what is biologically known as the sexual reproductive system. (Biologically, it is not known as the sexual “pleasure/power” system…yet) Thus, it turns women into “men,” in the true reproductive sense, not the outward “gender” sense. Reproductive-age women can go to work, study in school, and objectify sex just like men.
When society turns against pregnancy/motherhood (matrimony), it equally turns against fatherhood. As long as society holds the reproductive system in disdain, male and female do not matter.
I remember a time when a man’s home and family were a retreat from the harsh world of business and other men he faced. His wife was outside the sphere of his business associates, and she was a “soft place to land” when slaying dragons all day didn’t go so well. Home was a place where he didn’t have to be “on” or professional or fight for his place, but rather someplace he could regain his balance and self esteem. Now? Well, now Msgr. you describe it well. If he gets married, there are the dragons at work, and when he comes home, there is the dragon at home. Who wants that?
I’m a woman, but I do see the problem the feminists caused. I came from a family of strong women, and my mother (born in 1917) was one of them. She and my father built a successful business together. She was a stay at home mom, yet she was the one with the business acumen and financial sense. He had the operational skills. She never undermined his masculinity, and she always remained feminine. She saw him as the man. She respected that. They were both extremely satisfied with their life and their respective roles. He led in public, but she helped him lead when they were in private (meaning she never corrected him or contradicted him front of other people. Yet I am sure she spoke to him privately when she thought they should do things differently.) As a team they were fantastic. So my role model was a very strong intelligent woman who also was a successful businesswoman, a successful wife and a successful mother. Please don’t think I’m saying there were no problems. There were. But since I saw my mother be able to assert her talents while being a wife and mother, I cannot understand why women now think “equality” means being a manly.
Just want to echo the previous poster – this is all stemming from contraception. Every aspect of society and holiness has been undermined by the pill and related technologies. And there is no putting the genie back in the bottle….unless God Himself does so. Our society has been poisoned and is literally dying. And for what? So women can spend an equal amount of their lives droning away with men in cubicles? Trading the yolk of Christ for the wage slave collar of a corporation or government? It’s all so stupid and sad.
The problem is not gender, it goes deeper. We do not know who we are anymore. Loss of gender identity is just part of our condition. We are irresponsible, we are lazy, we are selfish.
We are not accountable. Not to anyone or anything. No fault divorce laws mean no one was wrong when he or she committed adultery, no one is responsible for the financial, moral, educational or psychological well-being of the family they helped create.
When we stopped looking to God for our morality, our identity, we forgot who we were. We became facsimiles of our former selves. Anyone who remembers the old faxes know the copy quality goes way down the more you fax a document to the point where it becomes almost unreadable. We are about there ourselves. We have made ourselves over in our own image and likeness so many times (generational copying) that we are unrecognizable.
We are made in the image and likeness of God. Until we turn back to Him for our identities, we will continue to flail about in our confusion. It is a pitiable state to find ourselves in.
Msgr. Pope, See Suzanne Venker’s article from a few years ago–“The War on Men” http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/11/24/war-on-men/
A dear friend reminded me of this: First God, then family, then work/school, etc. If you order your life this way…you can live The Way of Jesus.
With this thought, I pondered my own failed relationships and believe now, we must seek a spouse who loves God more than us. In this way, each would strive to give to the other all that would benefit the other to reach God’s glory…leading each to Love…Love IS God.
Dating is discernment. Dating is not “hanging out” or “hooking up” with someone you’re pretty sure is not the one you believe you’ll marry. This is coveting someone else’s future wife or husband. If men and women dated only those who are potential wives or husbands so many problems between the sexes would be eliminated.
Marriage is about union for Life. God IS Life. That means Enduring: commitment, patience, trust, respect, kindness, gentleness. Life is also children. Children are God’s blessing!
Mary and Joseph are the saints who guide us…our examples.
A wise woman once told me, “Before you marry a man, make sure he loves God before you. That way you know he will remain with you.” On the part of both the woman and the man there must be obedience to God. Simple loving obedience and trust in God is all any man and woman need. The world complicates things by questioning equality when God already made man in His image and likeness, male and female He created them. Equal from the beginning. Even though God the Son submitted to the will of His Father, He did not become less God. That fact seems to reflect what needs to be in the relationship of marriage. Wives submit and husbands love your wives as Christ loves his Church… meaning die to self. The gift of marriage is beautiful. It is living the life of Christ in complete obedience to the Father.
It can be a long road Home, but it does lead Home.
We are where we are today in chaos due to disobedience which is lack of love. And love is a 24/7 giving 100% of oneself for others; marriage. It is a life long work to know, love and serve God. That is what we are called to do no matter what the world says.
The young lady speaking in the video at the end of the Breitbart London piece gives me hope. At least some recognize the disease for what it is. Good evening.
Our culture of promiscuity is a huge, huge problem – the elephant in the living room. A promiscuous culture essentially means that a minority of men monopolize the majority of women through serial polygamy. The remaining men are “leftovers” to whom women only return after making the rounds without making the cut. An increasingly large percentage of these men are left out entirely because many women, having enjoyed the attentions of the most desirable men, refuse to “settle”.
“George Gilder” – NOT “George Guilder”.
Check the link to the book recommended…..
Or maybe not.
“The wider culture, heavily influenced by feminism, often depicts men as sexual predators, drinkers, imbeciles, buffoons, and as stupid and immature.”
Women are depicted as scheming castrating feminists, nymphomaniacs, pill poppers, empty-headed and vacuous, seducers, and cougars.
I think everybody takes a turn getting bashed in today’s culture, if you really took a close look. As for men, there was always a culture of promiscuity. In my dad’s generation, men were expected to be experienced. For men, the only thing that changed with the sexual revolution is that promiscuity became socially acceptable.
As for marriage itself, don’t overlook the demise of the readily accessible extended family. Young couples had parents, aunts & uncles, and the occasional grandparents. They didn’t move away to get jobs. Catholics had ethnic parishes to support them, too.
I know this is one of Msgr Pope’s pet issues, but he could look a little more deeply and critically at his presumptions.
Wonderful article, as usual. One thing: the author’s name is spelled “Gilder.”
Surmise I can that absence of a father image in the family, contributes much on this societal predicaments. Fatherhood had been debilitated with feminism. In acquiescence, men had relinquished their manhood and fatherhood. In Genesis, Adam was present when Eve was tempted by the evil one and did not stand up to protect his family. Our LORD JESUS, stood up even on the Cross to shield HIS bride and HIS family from the assault of the great lier. Men should stand up and become man and father to propel his family to superlative heights of dignity and integrity. ‘In this dark age, the Church needs her men to be Men.’ Amen!!! Our FATHER is still at work today, so must we, men and fathers. Work that men must to bring dignity to the women then women to bring integrity to men. Baruch Shalom.
Todd, I couldn’t agree with you more. There ISN’T a war on men. However, Hnnah rosin has written and excellent book entitled “The end of men” in which she posits the problem is with an economy that requires skills more easily acquired by women and that there may be some men in the future who will be full time It’s the economy, stupid!
The NYT , just had an article a few days ago that shows that the great divorce crisis is essentially over IF the couple involved are college educated in what is now called a “partnership marriage” where both husband and wife are employed and share in the day to day running of the household. I see a lot of this in my newly trendy neighborhood with Millennial couples. The “crisis” is with lower income groups where, according to the report, “lower income men tend to believe in more traditional marital roles”. Frankly, as someone who had to work his way through part of high school, college and paralegal school, I have very little sympathy for those poor threatened boys/men.
I grew up as the oldest of six sons, with a tough as nails father and mother to match and I’ll forget something my old man said to me, shortly before his death in 1973 ate age 47: “A REAL man is NOT threatened by a strong woman”.
Well said! There is no war on men! Strong men are not threatened by strong women! When men and women share the breadwinning and household roles to build up marriage and the family, it is a most beautiful, many splendid thing. Moreover, women are not looked upon exclusively as objects of procreation in this model of shared responsibility. Rather, both men and women value each other for all they can be, as individuals and as a couple!
Excellent point. The media doesn’t flatter anyone, and hasn’t for a very long time. Jane Austen mocks cruel and stupid parents of both sexes. The “stupid father, clever underling” trope dates at least as far back as the Roman playwrite Plautus. The only difference now is that we have so much of it.
I’ve been married 27 years and have two sons. I stayed married because I have a supportive family and a good job. My husband isn’t a moron who needs to see me helpless and debased in order to Feel Like A Man, but mainly we had a good support network. Provide that again and men won’t need doormat idiot wives to stick around.
As usual, Msgr, a great post. Allow me to encapsulate the problem as I have seen it unfold over the last 50 years. There is a philosophical school in secular feminism that gives voice to the denigration of male virtue, particularly christian chivalry and fatherhood. Secular Feminism has successfully reinforced the legal and educational misandry that has been with us for about 50 years, and the idea that sex is primarily about pleasure. This feminist misandry was preceded by the rapid onset of male sexual promiscuity that began after WW-2. This promiscuity was reinforced by two medical innovations, the Pill, (that “protected” the female from pregnancy) and antibiotics, that protected the promiscuous from disease. Male promiscuity was also legally protected by pornography laws that were struck down, and by school-law findings that made it increasingly difficult for teachers to discipline students (the collapse of school discipline reinforced family breakdown.) But before all of this, the social welfare state, which began with Social Security, made children within the family irrelevant to the care of the elderly parent. This provided an economic incentive to forgo having children, and further reinforced the idea that sex is about pleasure, and not about family and longterm stability. In all of human history, children within the nucleus of the family were the hedge against disability in old age, especially in poor families. After the social welfare law, one’s own children are now irrelevant to a family’s long-term security. In the 1960s, this government policy on “social” security was extended to young mothers, in AFDC; we now see that fathers are irrelevant to the basic financial needs of the mother with small children (hence we see the explosion in illegitimacy), and in turn, the child is irrelevant to the father in his old age.
The prevailing habits of thinking and behavior that deal with sexual self-control, family building, and long-term commitment are now aligned at every level against Christian fatherhood and the Christian family. If this alignment cannot be arrested and reversed within the next generation, we will witness the collapse of the society as we know it.
I have read this book twice, once in the 1970s and again in the late 1990s. It’s original title was “Sexual Suicide”, which seems to be the real title of this thread.
The shift of “charity” or care for the less fortunate from the bosom of the family and the local community to out-sourced institutions along with the trends of urbanization and suburbanization have increasingly isolated individuals from their natural societies – family: nuclear and extended. This not only goes for the government programs, but for the church as well. These institutions may offer financial resources that a family may not have, but they never replace the human bonds that are fundamentally necessary for the well-being of the family and its members.
You have encapsulated Gilder’s message very well, but I would also point out that not only AFDC ran the fathers out of the house, it prohibited women from being married and living with the father(s) of their children. The woman on welfare who was now supported by the government and increasingly so for each child became like the monthly check. It exacerbated the aspect of predation because men would show up at the same time as the checks came in for sex and the money they felt they were owed for the mere act of fathering a child. Another deleterious aspect was the increase in the amount of money as children were added to the single woman’s family. No family who worked simply received a bonus because they had an additional child. This “benefit” made her all the more vulnerable to predation.
As great as we think these institutional charities are, they have corrupted many of us into thinking that we do our part as charity when we but write a check, mostly from our surplus and not out of our need. We no longer know our neighbors who may be in need and share what we have with them. There is no human connection, therefore I would question the term “charity” at all – for charity is love and there is no love where there is no human/divine bond.
I would heartily agree with you (below) that it is the father who socializes his family, both male and female children. He honors his wife. He guides his sons in the path of righteousness and guards his daughters from men who only wish to prey upon them. A man can see things about another man that many women cannot read.
I have seen this in my own family. Each of my nieces (as we have no children – not by choice) has married a young man who comes from a single-mother environment. My brother-in-law is an outstanding role model for these young men. My sister and I have had to battle the aggressive feminist agenda inherited from a very angry mother and have had to willfully respect our husbands to the point of needing to exclude my mother from many things dealing with our families. These young men who have married into the family see the respect that my sister has given to her husband and they, each in their own way, have said that they want to be part of that family and marriage to the daughter was the only true way to be “adopted” into a family that will help them to continue to form them as the men they aspire to become.
As my nieces came to know my husband before they were married, each of them in her own term had said that they wanted a husband such as is my own husband. My own husband came from a mother-only household also, but, as your pointed out, he wanted to be chivalrous and righteous, and as I think about it now, he viewed having a family and being faithful and protective (not smothering) the arena in which to prove himself worthy of the name MAN.
Thank you for sharing your insights.
One additional comment on Gilder. His thesis is as it is mentioned above, but Gilder makes another point that the female is the primary socializing agent of the male. I used to think that this was true, but I do not think so any more, except in a very qualified way. The primary socializing agent of the male is the father. This socializing influence persists well into the man’s 20s, or until such time that the young man marries. The wife then becomes a prominent stabilizing complement to male aggression. But the core early regulator in male sexual aggression is the dominant father figure. Young males learn to treat females through the example and discipline of the dominant father. If the father is abusive to the female, so is the son. If the father is chivalrous, the son will be chivalrous. Sexual “family-learning” of the male is complex and beyond the power of most females to control, largely because young males will not submit to a female. The father vectors or directs youthful male aggression and competitive drives; although an older female can direct a young male, she will lose control over the male without the assistance of the father once the young male moves into adolescence.
An analogy: View the relationships between men and women as a pendulum. Before the 50’s and 60’s feminism movement, men were mostly in charge in the home. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of men treated their wives as deserving less respect then they expected for themselves. There would be physical abuse, verbal abuse, indifference, etc.. The pedulum swung way to the left (or right depending how you view it). Then, radical feminism comes along to correct the abuses of men. Unfortunately now, we have a significant amount of women who publically ridicule their husband, do not build them up as the man of the house, are indifferent to him etc.. The pendulum swings far in the other direction. Men and women need to realize that pendulum has to stop swinging in either extreme. A radical dose of humility and respect is needed by both sexes. And the observations made by Monsignor and the commentators here are ways to find that respect and humility. My miniscule opinion here…
“The prevailing habits of thinking and behavior that deal with sexual self-control, family building, and long-term commitment are now aligned at every level against Christian fatherhood and the Christian family.”
Sorry, Catholic Psychologist, this,
“If this alignment cannot be arrested and reversed within the next generation, we will witness the collapse of the society as we know it.”
is not going to happen.
Sounds like that will make you happy
I think that Karl meant that a different paradigm will NOT lead to a collapse of society and I suspect he’s right. Recently, I read an article recently that said that Millenials are doing it for themselves i.e they were simply working it out for themselves and they weren’t attacking each other for family decisions they were making. Some will look like traditional families. Others won’t. It’ll be whatever works for them. As it should be.
No, Karl is on the warpath about annulments. Anger about it a annulment that was granted his former spouse is pretty much the focus and motive of his comments here and at other sites. I share many of his concerns but not the extremity of them. He had a bad experience, but that does not make the teaching incorrect.
As for you, I think both history and scripture belie your view.
You want women to be cowardly, dimwitted, doormats, or at least to act like we are. The men that whine to you, and you obviously encourage such whining, are losers who can’t make it in a world where women are allowed to be intelligent and creative. If they fail, we haven’t lost anything.
No Karen, good men do not want women to be the way you describe it. Good men recognize that it is their duty to cooperate with women so that they can both become what God desires them to be, both as men/women in general and as particular men or women with their own unique God given mission in life.
And while I cannot speak for ALL men, what I certainly would not want is what you displayed in your post, from either a man or a woman.
Thank you Msgr. Pope for talking about this. I’m terribly sorry for some of the vile you’ve received from some of the commenters here. But please continue to talk about this, almost no one else is. The previous generations have no advice or solutions to give because of how little they understand what dating is like for modern young adults. I know when I see other men trying to bring these things up they are “crucified” for daring to imply that their is something wrong with today’s women. Many “catholic” message boards have banned numerous men for trying to talk about this. If no one says a thing, nothing will change an we will forever be the generation that didn’t marry.
An excellent article, and touched on many good points.
Among human groups, there are different kinds of power. At our parish, it seems that the pastor wields all of the “power.” He calls the shots; he approves the expenditures; his calls and visits are much sought after. The well-heeled and the influential vie for his ear; their suggestions are listened to, one getting a “nay”, another “yea”, yet another, “we’ll see.” The buck stops with him; the pastor’s got the final say. He’s got the “up-front” power.
However, our parish also includes Yolanda a parish volunteer. Yolanda is a lady in late-middle age, of mixed ethnic heritage, who dresses rather badly, and has a smile like that of an angel, and she is at the church all weekend, every weekend. Yolanda has taken upon herself the job of quietly and unobtrusively connecting with the handicapped and elderly coming in or leaving the church building who are on their own, without a companion. She makes sure their paths are as manageable and comfortable as possible, that they are where they need to be to connect with their rides home, and that they feel welcome. She knows many of their names, phone numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. Yolanda herself is more or less invisible, are the people she reaches out to . . . more or less invisible.
Even though Yolanda would seem to a nobody, with no power in the parish, yet on the rare occasions when Yolanda asks the pastor for something, it’s hers. The pastor would refuse her nothing. And nobody had better bad-mouth Yolanda or give her a bad time, because if the pastor heard about it, it would be “look out!” time for that trouble maker. The pastor would be quite protective of Yolanda, much more so than he would be of any number of other ministers and volunteers. And if Yolanda asked for a favor, such as a recommendation, an interview or a phone call on behalf of a nephew or a granddaughter applying for a job or for a program, the pastor would clear his calendar to make it happen for her. And so would anyone else who spends significant time helping out at the parish. Everyone knows Yolanda.
Yolanda has a great deal of “behind the scenes” power, and the dynamics of “up-front” vs. “behind the scenes” power are quite different. Often the “behind the scenes” players may be quietly crafting the group culture, setting much of the agenda, and developing the communications network within the parish . . . or within the family. Whereas the “up-front” power person is often the one bearing the responsibility for all of the above, and often also taking the blame.
Power comes in several flavors. Understanding this, and understanding how to wield them, is one key to success in this life.
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