Believers in the inevitability of progress point to the sexual revolution and feminism as examples of “liberation.” At last women are freed from the drudgery of domestic life and they are able to assert their “reproductive freedom.” At last they are free to embark on meaningful and lucrative careers and take their place in the corridors of power with the men. Right?
Not quite. A few lucky women who enjoy an elitist education and opportunities may be so liberated, but the reality for many ordinary women is not progress and liberation, but more profound forms of domination and drudgery. I am referring to the rise of modern matriarchy and polygamy.
I lived in England for twenty-five years and witnessed the result of sexual liberation and “reproductive freedom” for women. The free availability of artificial contraception and the relaxation of the code of sexual morality combined with government funded benefits for single mothers produced an underclass of poorly-educated, unmotivated families led by single mothers.
A working class English girl would leave school pregnant at the age of sixteen. Living on state subsidies, she would be given housing and an income to support herself and her child. Should she marry she would lose her child support. It was then in her interests to have more children to increase her income. There were plenty of young men willing to assist her with this enterprise.
If her daughters continued her pattern of life by the time she was thirty she was a grandmother. At forty-five she was a great grandmother and the three generations lived in close proximity like a modern matriarchal tribe.
As in all matriarchal societies, women control the wealth, guard the home, rear the children, and provide for the family. The men roamed about like hunter gatherers—living off unemployment checks or casual labor, spending their time in sports and pastimes while the women (looked after by the state) controlled the home. The men either lived with their mothers or their girlfriends—often serially. They had no reason to marry, no reason to get a permanent job, no reason to “get ahead.”
While this was characteristic of the lower class it would be wrong to limit it to the lower class. Through easy no fault divorce, cohabitation, and the decline of marriage the new matriarchy also existed within the middle and upper classes. There too, the men were kicked out through divorce. The women claimed the wealth, raised the children, and the men were relegated to roaming about living alone or with a series of girlfriends or new wives. Families with step-children and half-children abounded—almost always with the women in charge.
While this sort of matriarchy puts women in charge, it degrades and humiliates the man. Modern matriarchy is not an advance. It does not lead to human flourishing, human achievement or any sense of human self worth. The men resent being excluded by the women, the women resent having to do everything. The children are often left to fend for themselves.
This matriarchy is not a plan, but the consequence of the blind ideology of sexual liberation. It is not progress, but a regression to a more primitive social structure.
The other regressive alternative developing in Western society is polygamy or polyamory. There will be plenty of utilitarian arguments for polygamy—”Surely it is better for a child to have two mommies and two daddies! There are more adults to share the burden of parenting, a larger family income and there is more love to go around!”
The law (once it has approved same sex marriages) will not be able to hold back the “advance” that polygamy offers. However, like matriarchy, polygamy is a retreat, not an advance. Polygamy will set back women’s rights and self-esteem, locking them into a relationship with a man which must be abusive because (when faced with a harem of pregnant women who can not support themselves) he will be the one in charge. The woman will become a second class citizen, valued only for her child bearing capability like the roaming stud is valued in statist matriarchy only for the fact that he can give the girl another baby.
Every society that has advanced and moved forward historically has moved beyond matriarchy and polygamy. This must be so because matriarchy demeans men and polygamy demeans women. Only in monogamy are man and woman ideally treated as equals.
The true advancement for humanity was the gradual predominance of not only monogamy, but the Christian ideal of monogamy. It was only Christianity which exalted the union of man and woman to such a high status. The ancient Romans were amazed that Christian husbands and wives actually loved one another. That a woman (who was considered little more than a slave) was to be treated with respect and honor within a marriage was revolutionary. That marriage should be for life (thus offering security and protection to the woman) was groundbreaking. That the Christians loaded marriage with theological significance making it a sacrament and the crucible whereby the soul’s salvation was forged, was a radical innovation in the significance of marriage. That marriage signified the union between God and humanity was an astounding leap forward in human social and self-understanding.
Now, we see this Christian understanding of marriage as something from which we need to be liberated. Instead, we have chosen a more primitive and unenlightened form of family life. The fruit of it will be a society that drifts corporately into the same attitude of the male within matriarchy and the female within polygamy: a society with low self-esteem, lack of aspiration, and low accomplishment. It will be a society of the chronically dependent, and when people are chronically dependent there must always be a tyrant who they choose to rule over them.
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