Is Patriarchy Inevitable?
Answers Secular & Religious
These seem to be hard times for the would-be patriarch. The "family wage" system that formerly rewarded the father as "head of the household" has been undermined by equal employment and equal pay statutes. Title IX rules have mandated that much of the once male-dominated athletic world be turned over to the women. Fallout from the #MeToo campaign has discouraged even legitimate male quests to find an appropriate mate. The Boy Scouts organization now produces neutered "scouts." Ritalin tames aggressive little boys. Feminist propaganda celebrating female steelworkers and combat soldiers alongside male childcare givers and stay-at-home dads—this material fills school textbooks. The military appears to give priority to the principle of androgyny over victory. The prestige professions of lawyer and medical doctor are rapidly being feminized. The U.S. marriage rate stands at a record low; so does the marital fertility rate. A fair number of the men who do venture into marriage and fatherhood find themselves transformed into the indentured servants of their ex-wives. Contemporary church hymns and liturgies focus on gender justice and power games.
Indeed, the one American journal openly affirming patriarchs has died. Published in the village of Willis, Virginia, Patriarch magazine aimed at "nothing less than a return to patriarchy, a society led by strong, godly men. . . . Each man should aim to be the founder of a dynasty for God," with a full quiver of children. Alas, circulation was probably never more than a thousand or so, and the publisher called it quits in 2004. The aspiring patriarchs of 2018 now have no clear source for inspiration or guide for action.
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Allan C. Carlson is the John Howard Distinguished Senior Fellow at the International Organization for the Family. His most recent book is Family Cycles: Strength, Decline & Renewal in American Domestic Life, 1630-2000 (Transaction, 2016). He and his wife have four grown children and nine grandchildren. A "cradle Lutheran," he worships in a congregation of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. He is a senior editor for Touchstone.
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