Sunday, July 17, 2011

No Woman's Land.

Recently I've noticed a few referrals from the Traditional Christianity website, particularly from this post. The author, after gently taking issue with my article, concludes her reply with the following:
Traditionalists can accept that not every woman will find her bliss being a mother, but we don’t have to arrange society to accommodate the few when the majority are wired for domesticity.
If Catherine Hakim's data is correct, and I have every reason to suspect that it is, then the majority of woman are wired for a mix of domesticity and outside employment. The authors contention, that the majority of women are wired for domesticity is wrong.  This is not my opinion, it is a fact.

In articles such as this one, the devil is usual in the details and one that pricked my attention was this one;
Our problem is that many feminists will use these outlier women as a reason why we must have all the stuff that Traditionalists don’t like (STDL).
This may look like an innocuous comment, but the logic behind it is a source of much female misery.
Here in Australia, the maternal world is polarised into two groups, the mums who work and then ones who stay at home. Ostensibly each group is happy with its life choice but when you get to know these women better you peel behind the facade and realise that many of them aren't.

As mentioned previously, women are more wired to be heard animals, they are acutely sensitive to group norms and their conformity with them. Women are most happy when everyone's doing the same thing. As soon as someone steps out of line they are ostracised, hence the cliquiness of women. In women, ostracism is an anxiety generating process which settles only by acceptance of the group.

One of Feminism's achievements has been to legtitimise the women who want to work, and this caused a splitting of the heard into two groups. Those who want to work and those who don't. Now, each woman recognises that she both belongs to one group and is excluded from the other, so while there is safety in being with her herd there is anxiety at being outside the other's.

One of the things you notice about talking to working women is that they frequently feel guilt at not being homemakers, the sting of childcare makes them feel like they are a bad mother. On the other hand, many women who are homemakers have expressed to me "their failure of being just a homemaker", especially when the kids have gotten older. Each group of women shames the other.

You don't see this happening amongst men. If one group of males wants to do X and another Y, X doesn't feel angst at Y's choices nor Y at X's. Men generally don't give a damn, since men are wired to be individualistic.

If we analyse the above comment in detail we see the following:
Our problem is that many feminists will use these outlier women as a reason why we must have all the stuff that Traditionalists don’t like (STDL).
Firstly, why does the author feel that feminists and traditionalists cant co-exist seperately? Why must we have all the stuff that Traditionalists don't like? Why do feminist choices imply traditionally repugnant imperative? In other words, why do feminists doing their own thing imply that the traditionalists have to go along with it? Answer: There is safety in the herd.

Suppose we were a traditionalist amongst feminists, citing Catherine Hakim's data to support our case that some women actually want domesticity. We could "flip" the sentence to the following:
Our problem is that many Traditionalists will use these outlier women as a reason why we must have all the stuff that Feminists don’t like (SFDL).
Is something that is not out of place in a feminist tract.

The women most secure in their life choices are those at the opposing poles of female domesticity spectrum, everyone else is caught up in a No Woman's Land of anxiety between these two poles. Guilt about motherhood and work is the hallmark of a majority of women.

Women are bitches to each other.

22 comments:

Speaker said...

Fuck yes. Great article. Now, is there a way we can all give up on the idea of one singular society?

Simon Grey said...

I've been thinking a lot about your posts on women, the workplace, and domesticity, and I began to ask myself how any religious-minded traditionalists ever got the notion in their heads that women are hard-wired to want to simply stay at home and take care of children. As I was re-reading Proverbs 31 for a post I plan on writing later, I noticed that the woman described as virtuous appears to have what amounts to a part-time job of sorts outside of taking care of her family. The conclusion I've drawn from this is that most women would likely prefer a mix of domestic responsibilities and a part-time career. If I had to guess, I would bet that the preference ratios would be like 65:35 (i.e. women would like 65% of their time dedicated to looking after their family and 35% of their time dedicated to outside work). Additionally, I'd be willing to bet that most men would have their preference ratios reversed. Thus, the suggestion that women are hardwired for domestic duties only is theologically unsound and practically absurd.

Morticia said...

My motivation is to bring patriarchy back and this means giving men the majority of the power and influence in society. Even if most women were not wired for domesticity it wouldn't make a dramatic influence in my opinion simply because I strongly favor a firm patriarchy as the most stable form of society.

Morticia said...

And to add...

Domesticity use to mean a lot more than it means now. Compare 1950's middle-class suburbia to the life of Ma Ingalls and you see what I mean.

Thrasymachus said...

Catherine Hakim does not argue that the vast majority of women want to give priority to their careers over family life - quite the opposite. In fact, she is unpopular among feminists because (among other things) she presents evidence that only a minority (20 to 25 per cent or so) of women are career-focused. A roughly equal group of women is family focused and have little interest in paid employment. The majority of women are willing to adapt themselves to circumstances - they may be employed, but are not nearly as career focused as men are expected to be. Most of this group would prefer part time to full time or no employment.

The distinction between women who are employed on a part time basis and those primarily dedicated to their careers is a critical one. The two groups cannot be lumped together, because their behavioral characteristics are radically different.

Neil Gilbert's book, A Mother's Work, contains the best recent discussion of these issues.

Stewart Griffin said...

"If Catherine Hakim's data is correct, and I have every reason to suspect that it is, then the majority of woman are wired for a mix of domesticity and outside employment"

Does outside employment only include paid jobs?

If not, I am not sure the home-making crowd would disagree.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Simon.

I try not to use biblical references in my approach, I'm strictly more rational about these things. Still, I can't help but note the congruence between good rational thought and biblical narrative.

I too never felt that the Bible was as restrictive of woman's behaviour as, let's say, the Morality of Victorian England.

The point that I'm trying to get across is that women really are mixed bunch and that Domesticity does not become the natural state of most women. Traditionalist conceptions of womanhood are wrong.

Additionally, I'd be willing to bet that most men would have their preference ratios reversed.

Hakim's done some research on this and exclusive domesticity is less than 1% of males, adaptives approx 30% and work orientated approx 65%.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Morticia

My motivation is to bring patriarchy back and this means giving men the majority of the power and influence in society

I'm more a meritocrat, I'd prefer the governance of a smart woman over a stupid man any day. England did pretty well under Elizabeth the first and horribly under Gordon(Brown) the stupid. The thing is though, that good governance is rare in men and even rarer in women, especially at the national level.

The case for patriarchy is in that it satisfies the hypergamous instinct in women. Most women find leadership psychologically unsettling.

Kathy Farrelly said...

"As mentioned previously, women are more wired to be heard animals, they are acutely sensitive to group norms and their conformity with them. Women are most happy when everyone's doing the same thing. As soon as someone steps out of line they are ostracised, hence the cliquiness of women. In women, ostracism is an anxiety generating process which settles only by acceptance of the group."

Maybe, SP. I never had any problem with women when I made my decision to be a sahm.. It was what my husband wanted, and I agreed. I myself was brought up with a sahm..

The benefits were obvious.

Yeah, of course I got the odd woman saying, that I would go back into the workforce.. Had similar comments from men too.. But, I never vacillated.. My husband and I had made the decision that we thought would better serve our family. (His own Mum was a sahm too)

Never had a problem with other women.. because I was strong and resolute.. In fact I got a lot of respect and even envy..

The herd will only influence the very weak.. My husband took precedence over the opinions of others..

The herd will ultimately trample the weak and indecisive.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Thrasymachus

Catherine Hakim does not argue that the vast majority of women want to give priority to their careers over family life

I don't think I said that. What I said is that most women want some regular life outside the home. It really doesn't matter what type of life it is. Rich women found satisfying lives doing charity work, poor women in paid employment, what matters is that most women don't like a purely domestic existence.

Careerism is a vice, both in men and women, as carrerism, by being solipsistic, is opposed to the idea of marriage, i.e a shared life. It's one thing to work full time so that the kids can go to private school, it's another thing to work full time at the expense of the kids in pursuit of some self-actualisation. Marriage imposes obligations to others which are nullified by careerism, not full time work.

The problem is that in the 50's, many of these women who wanted to get out of the house for a bit, and earn a bit of money couldn't at all.

The Social Pathologist said...

@ Stewart

Answered in the above. Thanks for dropping in.

@Kathy

Never had a problem with other women.. because I was strong and resolute.. In fact I got a lot of respect and even envy..

Why did you need to be strong and resolute? What strength did you need? It shouldn't have to be an issue of strength at all. That's my point.

Kathy Farrelly said...

"What I said is that most women want some regular life outside the home. It really doesn't matter what type of life it is"

Yes, I would agree with you SP.

I would be the first to admit that the kids drive me nuts at times and housework is boring as batshit. Sure It would break the monotony if I could get out a bit and do something else..

But it is all about "dying to self" and putting the good of the family above your own wants..

Hey my husband works damn hard. Has a succesful business (and I help out at home doing bookwork) but, it's bloody hard work for him, and stressful. He would rather be at home with the kids then out slogging his guts out, I am sure.

But he does it all for me and the kids..

The least I can do is stick to my end of the bargain. We are a team.

Besides, he gives me a good seeing to, whenever I want it (and I reciprocate.) :D

Kathy Farrelly said...

"Why did you need to be strong and resolute? What strength did you need? It shouldn't have to be an issue of strength at all. That's my point."

It was just in my nature. It's why I never copped a lot of flak from other women. I made plain my intentions from the beginning.I was never a whingey or whiny type.

I didn't need to be anything.. iow, I was just being me. All to do with my strong Catholic upbringing, I think.

The Social Pathologist said...
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The Social Pathologist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Social Pathologist said...

@Kathy

The herd will only influence the very weak.. My husband took precedence over the opinions of others..

The thing is that women, in general, are weaker than men in such things.

I'm intrigued that you view the choice of domesticity as a "strength of character" issue; of being able to resist. Resist what?
It would imply that you were resisting some form of pressure.

You see, with all due respect, your choice, as far as I'm concerned, involves no strength of character. In choosing what you want to do, you do it. It's like saying I have strength of character for choosing to being a doctor. I don't think that the choosing of the job is a strength of character choice, rather sticking at it honourably is.

A woman choosing to work displays no particular strength of character whilst a woman working two jobs so that he children can get better education is.

Dex said...

"As mentioned previously, women are more wired to be heard animals..."

Heh. Yes, they are.

Kathy Farrelly said...

"I'm intrigued that you view the choice of domesticity as a "strength of character" issue; of being able to resist. Resist what?
It would imply that you were resisting some form of pressure."

I don't see it that way at all. As I said it's a choice made for the good of the family. The right thing to do. It's my job to ensure that I bring my kids up to be good and decent adults who love God. I am doing what God wants me to do.

"You see, with all due respect, your choice, as far as I'm concerned, involves no strength of character. In choosing what you want to do, you do it. It's like saying I have strength of character for choosing to being a doctor. I don't think that the choosing of the job is a strength of character choice, rather sticking at it honourably is."


I don't find "domesticity" all that stimulating. Lol. Now, doc, I think that your job would be much more interesting, wouldn't you say? You chose your profession because it was something that interested you. And, from what I have gleaned from your writing, you enjoy what you do.

Mine was more a selfless choice.

I didn't say that I chose domesticity because of my strength of character, anyway.

It is all to do with the way I have been brought up. My parents set a good example.

Besides, I married for love and sex, not to have children.Lol. That's not to say that I do not love my kids dearly, because I do.

I have always liked kids and gotten on well with them, but I was never the real maternal type.

Perhaps that is why I find domesticity and kids such a hard slog. I freely admit that I am not a natural. I don't have as much patience or confidence as many other women, do.

When I tell other women that I don't think that I am a very good mother, they recoil in horror as if I have uttered something blasphemous.."No" they say, in disbelief, and shake their heads.(As if all mothers are somehow "good" just because they are mothers.. heh heh heh.)

But it's true. I have seen many better than myself, who really enjoy what they do and take it all in their stride. They go shopping with a baby in the trolley and a toddler walking beside them.

Arrgghh! Could never do that. Not confident enough. Besides, they would drive me nuts.(I would go shopping in the evenings when hubby was home to look after kids)

Me as a mother? Well, I would say that I am adequate, at best. I try hard, but often fall short. shrugs. Don't beat myself up about it, that's just the way it is.

I would say that I am a far better wife than mother.

Better than a lot of other women. (That's not bragging, it's just a fact) I have never once knocked my husband back for sex. I cook him his favourite dishes, and most importantly I do not put the kids before him, as I see many other women do. They pander to their kids and neglect their husbands.. Kids get all the attention whilst hubby gets no attention or sex..

There should be a balance.

Many women seem to go off sex (and I have spoken to quite a few) after they have kids, too.

Damn good job that it never happened to me.. So, yeah, I find my wifely duties much more satisfying and pleasurable (it's the other way around for many other women)

Ah, what you lose on the swing you pick up on the roundabout. ;)

Kathy Farrelly said...

" Women are most happy when everyone's doing the same thing. As soon as someone steps out of line they are ostracised, hence the cliquiness of women. In women, ostracism is an anxiety generating process which settles only by acceptance of the group."

Maybe some women are, SP.

I have few women friends.. (I rarely do coffee, lunches and don't get into group gossip sessions where women moan about their husbands. lol.)so what you describe above is something that I have never had to deal with.

As much as you may find it hard to believe, I have never been a herd animal.

I actually prefer the company of men, because I find what they talk about much more interesting.. Women still talk of domestic stuff and kids when they get together, and I find that tedious and boring.

Last Friday night a male friend came around and he my husband and myself had a few drinks and watched the football, discussing tactics in between breaks. Was great..until it became apparent that the Eagles were gonna lose :(

The few female friends that I do have are similar to myself. (like attracts like, I think)They are not women who need to be accepted by the group...

The Social Pathologist said...
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The Social Pathologist said...

@Kathy
As much as you may find it hard to believe, I have never been a herd animal.

The exception does not disprove the rule. Even you describe yourself as different.

and yet..

the few female friends that I do have are similar to myself. (like attracts like, I think)They are not women who need to be accepted by the group...

The herd forms; there is safety in numbers.

I'm not trying to be a smart-arse here, but it was you who bought up issues of strength of character and weakness of mind with regard to conformity and yet you group yourself with people similar to yourself. The "others" are weak.

In group and out group.

You're more of a normal (and good) woman than you think.

Your exceptionality lays in your honesty.

Me as a mother? Well, I would say that I am adequate, at best. I try hard, but often fall short. shrugs. Don't beat myself up about it, that's just the way it is.

Adequate is enough. Unrealistic expectations about quality maternal care are a source of much misery.

But it is all about "dying to self" and putting the good of the family above your own wants..

This last comment warrants a proper post.

Anonymous said...

SP.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for these posts.

I am a working mother who doesn't want to be a full time stay at home mother but I don't want to work full time either.

Maybe in the future there will be a new herd of women for us 60%. If I could find a part-time job that didn't seem like I was lazy on both ends (homemaking and work) I would jump in with both feet.