Patriarchy Works

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by Jack Donovan on December 21, 2009

Before feminism, men got along just fine.

Some men succeeded, others failed. Collectively, men built and re-built social structures that they preferred, structures that worked best for men and served their proximate interests. Whatever your feelings are about the “rights” of women in society, one thing is undeniable: patriarchy works. It’s not an academic theory. It’s historical fact. Some patriarchal societies have worked better than others, for a wide variety of reasons. It has been proven that a patriarchal society can rise to international prominence. Few, if any real matriarchal systems have ever succeeded. Virtually all of the great achievements of mankind—from the aqueduct to the steam engine to the great works of Western and Eastern arts and literature—are the products of men who worked within patriarchal systems.

There is no matriarchal or feminist society with a comparable track record. Feminists have only “what if” to offer. They can say only that “maybe women would have done great things if they would have been allowed to.” Perhaps they would have. We’ll never know what might have happened if any or every major successful human society had come to different conclusions about the most reasonable and appropriate division of labor between men and women.

What we do know is that as a group, men did not demand feminism. Men did not clamor for women to join them in the workforce. Men did not cry out to be relieved of their burdensome responsibilities as providers. Men did not complain that they were the ones who went to war, or who did the most dangerous work. Men were physically and mentally better suited to certain tasks, and they did them because someone had to do them.

Men did not demand feminism. They made way for it. Men acquiesced to the demands of a minority of demanding women, because men were collectively swayed by appeals to their sense of moral justice and fairness. Machines made equal participation in the workforce conceivable.  The resulting surplus of wealth and goods, population growth, advances in medicine, lower infant mortality and longer life spans made it possible. The novel idea that labor offered personal fulfillment and happiness—and that individual happiness and personal fulfillment were more important than what was best or most practical for a civilization as a whole—made work desirable. Because work seemed more desirable, and because in a thriving materialistic society financial freedom offered greater opportunity for happiness, men were convinced that it was morally unfair to keep women from joining them in the workforce. The success of feminism has always depended on the benevolence of men.

It is important to remember that patriarchy did not fail or collapse.

Patriarchy works.

Does feminism work?

It seems to be good for women, at least on the surface. Others have written about the seamier side of women’s liberation—free-for-all whorishness that often leads to abuse, fatherless children, disease, loneliness, depression and so forth. But women can pursue exciting careers and buy lots of stuff. These things make them feel important. And feeling important is something. Studies seem to suggest that none of this has made women happier, and men are blamed for this unhappiness because they haven’t acquiesced to the demands of women thoroughly enough. But to truly answer whether or not feminism really works requires more than a moral argument about how things should work or a social inquiry into the happiness of women.

For a society to work, it must first survive.

In nations where feminism has had the most influence in shaping social policy, and where women have succeeded in the workplace and ascended to positions of political power, birth rates of non-immigrant populations have dropped below replacement levels. The largest immigrant population in Europe, (Muslims) and the largest immigrant population in America (Mexicans) both have high birth rates and patriarchal cultures. When the family is devalued and women seek happiness and fulfillment in the working world, they have fewer children, and they have them later in life.

If a population that embraces feminism necessarily ages and dwindles, as competing non-feminist cultures surrounding it grow and thrive…does feminism work?

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