Am I For or Against Traditionalism?

In various posts I’ve written about traditionalism, sometimes being critical and sometimes being supportive.

What’s up with that?

Well, as Walt Whitman put it, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes”.

There are traditional norms I’m against, such as excessively hierarchical institutions, marriage being only between a man and a woman, legal inequality, anti-choice regarding abortion and other issues, etc.

But I have no problem with different gender roles – provided it’s a personal choice.

My position on traditional gender roles in a nutshell is: Today’s world is different from the past, and many social norms no longer make sense – but some social norms do still make sense. Either way, fairness to women and men is important.

This boils down to five basic notions:

    • I fully support equal rights, but that doesn’t mean that men’s and women’s roles must be identical. They can be complimentary. Individual liberty is primary.
    • Gender roles are not the result of patriarchy but rather developed from the grassroots with women playing a huge role in creating them. Biology also plays an inescapable role. I previously wrote that women and men have differing self-interests with respect to sex and relationships. Men focus their interests on young women because they are the most likely to produce children, but women are more selective because their physical investment is much greater (pregnancy and birthbirth).
    • The present, however, is very different from our agricultural past. Specifically, without capitalism we never would have had a women’s rights movement. Capitalism created lucrative, low risk jobs for men and women. And capitalist innovation created reproductive control.
    • But traditionalism isn’t all bad. Most traditions were not put in place to oppress others (though some were). But sometimes the rationale, which made sense in the past, no longer applies because circumstances have changed.
    • Feminism is selectively egalitarian and selectively traditionalist in a way that is pro-female and anti-male. Both traditionalists and feminists expect men to remain silent on men’s issues. I noted, for example, that first wave feminists promoted the notion that women are “infinitely superior to men”. And in my Open Letter to Emma Watson I asked, “Is the sentiment ‘HeForShe’ really all that different from ‘women and children first’?”

As such, I advocated for the Equal Rights Amendment, writing that “ERA is important for men too. When applied to all sexes, it would mean that shared parenting is an equal right. That maternity and paternity leave must be equal. That men cannot be forced into parenthood anymore than women can be. That genital integrity applies equally to men – that is, male circumcision is genital mutilation. That women must be allowed in combat (and will in the US in 2016), and the military draft must apply equally to women and men. That the criminal sentencing discount women currently enjoy – which is greater that the white sentencing discount – must be addressed”.

I criticized the situation today where men are expected to “fulfill the 20th century male gender role while promoting progressive gender roles for women”. The attitude is, “Treat me like an equal, and start by paying for my dinner”. Yet, “make me a sandwich” is no more sexist than “buy me dinner”, though few women today would agree with that.

In my view, it’s fine for a woman to expect a man to pay for dinner, so long as she’s willing to get in the kitchen without hypocritical complaints. Or, if she doesn’t want to get in the kitchen then she needs to pay her half at the restaurant. But a woman who games the system is not a woman one can have a good relationship with.

I also complained that despite “all the talk about flexible gender roles and men being more involved parents, a recent report from Britain found no support for househusbands whatsoever“.

On the other hand, I’ve criticized conservatives for sometimes pushing individual liberty aside in favour of traditionalism. And I’ve criticized traditionalist men for saying “lucky boy” when a woman has sex with an underage boy instead of recognizing that she’s putting him at risk.

But I also criticized women who label men as boys when men don’t fulfill the traditional male role, which is transferring resources to women and children (both financial and physical, which is to say, risking his life to protect women). In contrast, I asserted that “a man is being responsible when he supports himself, and has no obligation to transfer his earnings to a woman”.

However, I have no problem with a man being the breadwinner and a woman staying home with the kids – if that’s what they choose. But I don’t support shaming people into either traditional or non-traditional roles.

In explaining why I’m pro-choice, I claimed that “Feminist ideology, if it is to be logical and consistent, must admit that men owe women nothing – just as women owe men nothing”.

No fault divorce is a good example. It’s not traditionalist (quite the contrary), and it’s lead to the common situation where women (who file over two-thirds of divorces) can walk away from a marriage for any reason, or no reason at all, and be free from all marital responsibilities. But men’s marital responsibilities continue as alimony.

This combination of traditionalism when it benefits women, and non-traditionalism when that benefits women, is very harmful to men. This is why I agree with MGTOW that men should avoid marriage and fatherhood until alimony is abolished, shared parenting is law, child support is reformed, and there are much stronger protections against paternity fraud.

I also insisted that “women need to take their share of the responsibility for the way in which they support and promote traditional gender roles”.

For example, in a recent post about the Swedish film Force Majeure, where a woman psychologically abuses her husband after he runs away from her and the kids when he thinks an avalanche is coming, I editorialized that “there are no feminists in avalaches, or sinking ships, or any other dangerous situation. Women want men to take on life threatening risks, and they’ll go back to being feminists once they’re safe”.

I made it clear that I was not criticizing the traditional male role, noting that I previously wrote in support of stoicism, approvingly quoting Marcus Aurelius, who wrote that “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength”.

The problem, I noted, “is that while women demand the traditional male role, they also demean rather than respect men who fulfill it”.

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