Friday, 13 June 2008

Patriarchy wins

This long blog post from Al Mohler is worth reading. He's discussing an article by Phillip Longman in the journal Foreign Policy:

To some extent, the statistics tell the story. Almost twenty percent of women born in the late 1950s are nearing the end of their reproductive lives without ever having had children. Longman's assessment is blunt: "The greatly expanded childless segment of contemporary society, whose members are drawn disproportionately from the feminist and countercultural movements of the 1960s and 70s, will have no genetic legacy.


Common sense.

14 comments:

Alexandra P said...

But perhaps those women are fine with that? The lofty tone of tut-tut (or even nyer-nyer) only works if the women have the same ideas of success, the same notions of what is desirable, as the author. I obviously can't say for sure, but perhaps at least some of them reject the notion that genetic continuation is the only valid mode of reproduction/transference of knowledge. And perhaps that's a peculiarly patriarchal notion, because men are ever concerned with validity and legitimacy...

Gordon Cheng said...

Hi Alex, I'm guessing that some of the women are fine with that end point, and some are not. It depends whether they continue to support the ideology that gave them this result, or feel let down in some way.

When I think about it in biblical categories, my mind goes quickly to the curse of Genesis 3:16, which gets played out in various ways in every generation.

Alexandra P said...

You're absolutely right about the possible different reactions to where their ideology has led; I think this is something that won't be adequately analysed for a number of years, if ever - it's something that will probably always polarise opinion!

Do you mean the bit in the curse about giving birth being rotten, or about women and men having a not-perfect relationship?

marion said...

Gordon, two of my contemporaries come to mind: Maxine McKew & Julia Gillard, both childless feminists. (& both strangely with portfolios dealing with children & their education)

Peter Kirsop said...

the blog says
Beyond this, the falling birthrate contributes to many other social ills. "Falling fertility is also responsible for many financial and economic problems that dominate today's headlines," Longman asserts. "The long-term financing of social security schemes, private pension plans, and health-care systems has little to do with people living longer. . . . Instead, the falling ratio of workers to retirees is overwhelmingly caused by workers who were never born."
That is very debateable. At the turn of last century the average life expectency of a white US male (then the highest expectency of any group) was 47 years (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy#cite_note-12)There wasnt much of a problem about pensions, few people would get them because few people lived long enough.
Life expectency has been rising ever since. Its only in the post baby boom (ie the adults of our own generation) that the birth rate has declined in western society to be less then replacement level (this the blog concedes).
People started getting old and getting to pensionable age well before this generation.(this is a necessary inference from the 2 above points).

Now people are living longer and working longer, (perhaps Mr Bilbie is exceptional see http://www.lawsociety.com.au/page.asp?partid=15912&Referer= issue 186) but I dont know any solicitor who has completely retired at age 65 in recent years.

So whats the problem?

That there will be fewer humans around? Is that a bad thing? Quality not quantity perhaps.

Gordon Cheng said...

Do you mean the bit in the curse about giving birth being rotten, or about women and men having a not-perfect relationship?

The whole curse is certainly true!

But I am thinking that the frustration inherent within certain types of feminism is that it attempts to impose an ideology which, in the very nature of things, can't work. An ideology which contributes to its proponents failing to bear children is the ultimate in self-defeat.

Alexandra P said...

I agree the whole curse is true, of course.

I'm not convinced, though, that the fact that it can't work is necessarily a reason to stop trying. Patriarchy might be a result of the fall - but that doesn't mean that it's the way things were meant to be, and indeed I don't think it was meant to be this way. I am not here arguing for men and women as exactly the same, as obviously we are not - and were not created as such; more the 'equal but different' line, which I don't think implies patriarchy in the way that we've experienced it up to now, and continue to experience it.

I also, again, disagree that "An ideology which contributes to its proponents failing to bear children is the ultimate in self-defeat" - because, again, this is implying that only genetic continuation is valid. And I don't think it has to be. Perhaps a feminist who, through writing and speaking and living, manages to influence (for good!) dozens of women and men, is in some ways more 'successful' than a mother of three? I know I'm being provocative there, and my suggestion of 'success' is something of a throwaway line and in no way intended to be derogatory! - but I hope you see my point.

Gordon Cheng said...

Perhaps a feminist who, through writing and speaking and living, manages to influence (for good!) dozens of women and men, is in some ways more 'successful' than a mother of three?

Define success though.

We could have another discussion about the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the mother of three (3x3x3=27, but if we allow that each one of the 27 may influence dozens of others that would be more than 27), but that is another question, or maybe the same one.

Alexandra P said...

Define success though.

That's my point exactly. It entirely depends on how you define success that defines whether you think patriarchy has won through those women not reproducing little genetic copies of themselves. Some genetic reproduction could, arguably, be called utterly unsuccessful. Would that blog's author be more likely to approve of them if they had got pregnant because of a one-night stand? (Or raised a little monster?)

Again, it all comes down to whether you think having children is the only, or most impressive, or most feminine, mode of achieving success - or whether making a difference to society, and/or combating patriarchy is of equal (or more?) importance (and obviously the two are not mutually exclusive, either). If you claim that this is so... well, you'll alienate many women who can't have kids, let alone those who choose not to. And as I said initially, I think that would be a particularly patriarchal view, and which many women (and men?) would disagree with.

Gordon Cheng said...

Hey Alex,

I believe the Bible is patriarchal, though.

Alexandra P said...

The Bible may be patriarchal, and that may be the way the world is meant to be until it's a theocracy, but I'm not convinced that today's Western society has that patriarchy right. It is a screwed up world, after all.

Gordon Cheng said...

No-one's got it right! That's a given.

Alexandra P said...

No-one's got it right

Then perhaps those feminists are doing the world a favour by illuminating different ways of being and thinking, in contradistinction from simply following (Fallen) set notions of how a woman should be, and act.

Gordon Cheng said...

That would assume that people are capable of reasoning themselves towards truth regarding human nature. If that were true, then feminists (or anybody really) might be capable of helping us think rightly about men and women simply by asking good questions.

But I don't know why we would imagine that the asking of good questions will help us towards truth in this matter of male-female relationships. The Bible doesn't give us any reason to believe that.