Thursday, July 06, 2017

Grandpa Lived in a Different Era

I’m so tired of people asking why husbands and fathers today aren't like their grandfathers or great-grandfathers in terms of leading their homes, tempering their wife when she's way out of line, and keeping their kids in line, etc. The embellished memories of how those men of yore kept everything hunky dory without losing their cool can be entertaining and even amusing to hear once or twice, but the constant extolling of this imagined past familial utopia is irritating.

There are very important things that aren't included in this praise of these "real" men.

Those men could literally beat their wives and children, rape their wives, and kick any of them out of home without giving them a dime in walking money. If some punk was horning in on one of the girls in the family, the dad could run him off the property with a gun. And none of it was against the law or, even if it was technically against the law, nobody would arrest these men, let alone prosecute them or convict them. Now, not all men actually ran their homes like that, but the general cultural understanding that they could was enough to keep their families in line. Wives and children did run away, facing destitution in doing so, especially when relatives were unwilling to take them in. Many of their relatives would side with the husband/father. Yes, a woman might find that her own father would side with his son-in-law. Just about everyone else did, too... employers/customers, clergy and congregations, mental health providers, doctors, banks, newspaper editors... just about anyone. Wives were told to go back and obey and please their husbands, with maybe doing something on the sly behind his back (like squirreling away some savings if the husband would spend too much or wouldn't let his wife have enough money).

A married woman couldn’t get a credit card or engage in many other financial actions without her husband’s agreement. This is the real reason some women had secret stashes of cash the home. They couldn’t put it in a bank without their husband knowing.

Unlike now, a marriage license was an actual license to live together, have sex, and have children. There could be serious legal consequences if you did any of those things without a marriage license. That license gave a man access to his wife’s body, whether she felt like it at the moment or not. If she cheated on him, not only could be beat her, kick her out, and divorce her, but she could be criminally charged and she certainly wouldn’t get half of everything plus lifetime alimony.

Is that how things should be run? I'm not saying these were good things. But they "worked" in that they 1) kept children from being a disobedient presence in the family home, and 2) kept wives from emasculating their husbands or acting significantly in contradiction to what he wanted. If you can find an acceptable way to achieve those goals now, please share it with us. We’d love to know the secret. And sorry, telling men to “be like your grandfather” ain’t going to do it. You might as well tell someone to fly on a magic unicorn. Grandpa lived in a different era.

The men of today have different dynamics to deal with in the home. They also have different dynamics to deal with outside the home. Every workplace, every institution has been feminized, and mostly of them have been integrated with women. Most media and most businesses and other organizations seek to cater to feminine sensitivities and priorities when there is a conflict with masculine. Grampa didn’t have to compete with both other men and women in selling his labor. He didn’t have to worry that having a normal conversation with another guy at work could get him fired for “harassment” because someone overhead something they didn’t like.

Sorry, everything else has been changed. You can't expect men to behave as though nothing has changed.

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