"In the beginning, there was the "Battle of the sexes", and it was bad enough. Then, on the end of the 2nd millenium, man and woman made "Gender War", and they looked at it, and it was worse. "
Surviving a culture of singleness: choosing unmated lifestyles.
You would have to have been living under a rock for the past 30 years to have been unaware of the major social shifts occuring in the structure and function of marriage, the family, and child rearing.
Ethical, caring, progressive men have few palatable choices in the mating game today. Culturally, fathers have been reduced to walking wallets. Men who want a real role in raising their children are confronted with the growing acceptance of single motherhood, with its inescapable implication of single fatherhood. As the battle for "wage parity" continues, gains in women's income are often offset by the reduced numbers of men who outearn them and are thus considered "eligible."
Resource competition is reaching levels never even dreamed before. The entire notion of "necessity" has been redefined in two generations and very little which is regarded as essential today was even dreamed of by the generation that spanned the great depression and WW II. The notion of entitlements introduced during the 1930s to pull the nation out of the depression has fossilized into making the government the parent of all. Fathers are disposable as long as the mother has income from somewhere. Mothers are disposable because now we have "day care" and "quality" time.
I believe that Charlie Chaplin's vision in "Modern Times" has become reality. Human beings have been mechanized just like industry and standardization has become the rule of success. Individuality, individual variation, and uniqueness have all succumbed to mass culture.
Since the 1960s, the focus in the realignment has been women's roles and women's issues. The movement which has spearheaded this effort has even had a feminine name. In fact, feminism literally is the ideology of the feminine.
Despite all the changes in women's roles, the expectations within the culture were that men would continue to fulfill all their old duties. And, since the generation of men entering into the gauntlet that the mating years were to become were brought up expecting to do just that, the boomer generation for the most part tried to comply. However, the change in women's roles has had such profound and lasting changes that men's roles are in transition whether anyone likes it or not.
As the provider role falls by the wayside on the pilgrimmage to wage parity, and the disciplinarian role falls to the relentless efforts to uncover victims of abuse, men are faced with being criticized for what they were brought up to do. There has been deep and long standing bitter resentment of that by men. And the net effect on men raised after this vast social change will take decades to fully assess.
However, one effect is already beginning to become apparent and that is an awareness of just how expensive fertility has become. Particularly in the US, people accustomed to the highest living standard in the world are ripping and tearing at each other over the belief that the share of the wealth which they are receiving is not large enough. Having children and taking on the providing role means you have to take on the responsibility for providing them with ENOUGH. Remember, everyone wants to "HAVE IT ALL" these days. It's not just "men against women", children are turning on their parents these days. Remember the Menendez brothers?
With so many obstacles and burdens to raising children, as opposed to simply becoming pregnant, it is something that men will begin to avoid with the same fervor that women have pursued birth control and such radical tactics as abortion. C4m, choice for men, is the legal equivalent to abortion. Male birth control pills are being tested. Men are challenging in court the rights of women to conceive and stick them with the bill.
We have reached the stage in polarization between the genders where the user of birth control now has to warrant its effectiveness.
The disruption in fertility patterns will soon shift from the generalized right to NOT reproduce, to certain more fundamental questions about the right TO reproduce. Based on cost alone, many will have to make the decision to not have children because they can't afford them.
The primary question will end up being whether the sex drive can be successfully defined completely away from its history-long biological purpose - continuation of the species - into a new "social" mold. Can everything about us, from our bodies to our most basic drives, be simply redefined in semantic terms and become, like feminism, whatever we say it is?
I contend not.
The legal and cultural situation is forcing a reversal in some of the responsibilties of relationship initiation and maintenance. Men are being forced to take on the role of gatekeeper and deal with women who are very aggressive in pursuing sex. The crushing burdens of the current idealized father role and the legal risks posed by Sexual Harassment and Rape laws take a great deal of the attractiveness out of women in general.
Maleness, liking women, wanting to have sex with them, and fatherhood have all been criminalized. It is easy to tell what a culture is trying to stamp out by what it criminalizes. How boys and young men will respond is hard to predict. But they will doubtless react very differently from their fathers whose actions were criminalized after they commited them.
For the near future, at least, it seems that both men and women will need to adjust to unmated and childless lives. It is highly doubtful that government subsidies will be extended to children conceived through a sperm bank, at least not for very long if women continue to take on increased tax burdens as their income increases. As hard as the conservatives have fought to preserve it, the nuclear family looks like it is going into mothballs like nuclear arms.
What will replace it is anybody's guess. And everybody is guessing. And the stakes for a wrong guess just keep getting higher.
The boomers were the straddle generation. They were born and socialized under the old ideas of family, even though they were already breaking down, then tried to make the transition to living under the new ones. The results were wildly mixed.
Now, the boomers are increasingly adopting singleness as a lifestyle and retiring from the gender armies to let the younger ones fight it out. The question is whether the young will keep on fighting it, or reject the gender war just like the boomers rejected the Vietnam war. Interestingly, I saw a boomer post on an NG titled "They're turning on us." Well, that's what we taught them.
I hope this turns out to be the case. Young men and women have inherited a legacy of hatred and distrust that will be hard to overcome. They have all been fed a lot of propaganda. I'm glad I grew up before all this started to happen. I don't envy them the task.
One thing seems certain - that both genders will need to approach fertility in more cautious and planned ways. But certainly for men, exploration of alternatives to fatherhood will definitely need to be considered.
The Water Gets Deeper
In the wake of radical feminism, it seems like it has taken a very long time for an equally radical and forceful masculism to develop. Both sides are now dealing from positions of defensiveness and anger.
Below are some essays on what such a radical masculism might look like. In effect, it is nothing more than actual implementation of the fish and bicyles concept which has been the slogan of womanism since the early 70s. And the sad truth is that, once out of the gauntlet of the child-bearing years, men and women DON'T really need each other for much of anything. The interdependency which has characterized the human race since its beginnings, whatever creation myth you subscribe to, between men and women has been severed. Young men are talking about their need to have "reproductive independence" from women.
I believe that the mere fact that the sexes are talking about "reproductive independence" from each other is clear indication that the human race is either getting ready to completely unravel, or follow Huxley's model of the "Brave New World" and grow kids in test tubes and indoctrinate them in government run centers. Will humans make the next leap toward becoming machines? And over time will the distinction between human being and machine break down?
Some Radical Notions on biological and social processes and the future of culture
The Feralization of Culture – Building better predators
Back to Gender War, Sexuality, and Love
Friday, March 11, 2005
EOTM: Surviving a Culture of Singleness: Choosing Unmated Lifestyles
Labels: Eye of the Mind, Zenpriest