The Patriarch – Part V – The Final Chapter

It gives us a warm, fuzzy feeling to believe women have come so far along in the world. Women now work outside of the home. Women vote. Women are climbing the corporate ladder. Look at women go! Yet, even with these great strides being made research concludes that women are still doing a majority of the caring for the home as well as the child rearing, all in addition to working full-time jobs outside of the home. That is problematic.

I was reading a study not along ago and the author was discussing how a majority of marriages fail in the first seven years. The author provided that one indicator of a successful marriage was if the husband was willing to accept “influence” from his wife. The word “influence” struck me as funny. For years women have been required to submit to their husbands. There was no  subtlety in the words being used. Women were to “just do as your told.” That is exactly why the economic suppression of the wife was an important element in the traditional nuclear family structure. Socio-economic dependency generally equates to compliance. The basic needs of survival depending upon the relationship itself. Now we have submission vs influence. That sounds fair. I would have much preferred the term mutual respect, but I am just silly like that, I suppose.

Women go into the workplace, manage multi-million dollar budgets, lead teams, and then come home and are expected to “submit” their autonomy to another human being based solely upon gender. That is the call of the patriarch. Sure, it can be done for a while but ultimately the incongruences of autonomous creatures will fester into anger and resentment. Someone will be required to change. If change is not possible, or if you cannot at least meet on some middle ground, divorce is inevitable.

Listen, I do not believe women are as much angry (Feminists do not hate men. And, men are not responsible for every woe in the world) at the historical elements of the Patriarchal systems as much as they are just tired and frustrated with a system that does not work and refuses to evolve. Sure, women work outside of the home but they are still the ones taking care of the home, the kids, the husband, and almost always the care for the ailing/elderly parents falls upon the female child as well. Jobs outside of the home have not provided women with equality, but yet the possibility of economic independence that allows them the opportunity to rid themselves of harmful, suppressive, and oppressive environments and relationships.

It is not the demise of the nuclear family that has caused society’s woes. It is society’s desperation to white-knuckle grip the old, out-dated establishment, while refusing and failing to establish systems of support for the changing needs of the family within it’s society.

Now, let’s turn our attention and look at the injustices of the Patriarchal system to men. This is where I go completely rogue on you. There are troves of adult men who have little to no emotional bonds with their children. This system cements the ideas within our society that women are the favored caretaker of children. Thus, when divorce or separation happens there is a struggle to accept the ability of both parents as equals in raising their children. Both, men and women, are victims of the establishment of the Patriarchal system.

Although we have equal access laws in Oklahoma as to a parent’s visitation rights with his children, I can’t tell you how many judges I’ve stood in front of while representing a father and knew we had to ask for twice as much just in order to gain only half of the visitation time that he deserved. Unfortunately, putting on a black robe doesn’t immediately eradicate the personal biases within the individual.

Further, strapping the economic wealth and full provision of the family on the backs of men, for no other reason than their male gender, is insane and grossly unfair. The weight of that responsibility should never be carried by one individual.

I don’t wish bad upon anyone, but if you have never had the responsibility of being a single-parent, raising a child alone, or being fully and completely personally responsible for the economic wellbeing of the household, then I think you should try it. Your thoughts of what is expected of a “traditional male/husband” just might change.

The patriarchal system requires that the man is the worker, he is to be the provider. That might have worked in the hunter-gatherer phases of human evolution but it is not practical (nor kind) in today’s times. The huge burden of being the sole breadwinner for the family is a tremendous burden to bear. I’ve known some men who have to work two or even three jobs so they can “do God’s will” and allow mom to stay at home and “raise the kids,” although it makes absolutely no economic sense whatsoever. This is NOT healthy, folks. God did not tell you to treat him like a pack mule! Besides, the kids miss out on their dad and you miss out on an intimate partner in life.

Physical work and mental work are equally exhausting and draining. Jobs often entail more than labor. Call it sexist if you must, but I do firmly believe if he’s the sole breadwinner for the family and carrying the full burden of the economic wellbeing of the family then your “job” is to ensure all the chores of the household are done, his dinner is ready, and he has time to decompress from a work day. If such a family structure is a conscious decision on your part, then so be it. I’m not advocating a division of labor based upon gender as much as I am advocating a division of labor, period. Maintaining a career, healthy relationships, marriages, and raising children, are hard work. The labor is arduous. There must be a balance in the division of the labor in order to be successful. If women can’t be expected to “do it all” then we certainly can’t reasonably expect for men to “do it all” either. Put the capes back up, there is no need for anyone to be a hero today.

Speaking of systems and lack of support for changing family dynamics, Corporate America’s response to dads who need to take off work because their kid is sick or needs to go to a well-baby appointment is equally disturbing. Can you imagine the response (the whispers and gossiping) when the man has to excuse himself from a Board meeting because his kid just threw up in science class and needs someone to come and get her? Men are chastised for being caretakers. They are termed as weird, weak, gay, pussy-whipped, just to name a few.  The climb up the corporate ladder requires full commitment. 100% isn’t enough. 110% is barely scratching the surface. In this system, there shall be no other gods before capitalism. Your children will just need to wait. Profit first. Besides, call mom, it’s her job. Not much has really changed. Women still fight this daily, the corporate punishment for caring for their children, ailing parents, or god-forbid taking any time off to care for themselves.

All humans have within them the capacity for both, nurturing and for strength. The patriarchal system teaches men to suppress thoughts, feelings, and emotions that do not meet the most stringent requirements of a “Man’s Man.” Man up. Toughen up. I’ll give you something to cry about. Any of those things sound familiar?

Men are still seen as the logical ones while women are still viewed as emotional. Not because each has separate and distinct characteristics of these traits, because male and females alike most certainly share both of these traits equally. These societal views are assigned on nothing more than gender and social conditioning of acceptable behaviors. Men are well-trained to stuff emotions, and to ensure that even the hint of emotion is not seen as driving any of their decisioning, while women are given much more latitude. We are equally guilty of creating this divide.

I  have only witnessed my dad shed tears one time. It was at a funeral of a young man tragically killed in a motorcycle accident. I also witnessed that my dad was quick to wipe those few tears away and sit stoically for the remainder of the service. My experience with the expression of male emotions is stunted at best. I’ll be the first to admit  (shamefully) that I often forget that men can be severely emotionally wounded by words (and more). I forget their capacity for pain is as limited as my own. I forget that their insecurities and the ability to express fully the essence of who they are as an individual should be as freely provided as it is to any female. I forget, and I know I am not alone in that. I am classically and traditionally trained but fighting to evolve.

Patriarchal systems hurt men as much as it hurts women. It is a system of failure. It has been imploding for years. Society is still in the process of adjusting. The family hasn’t failed society. Society has failed the family by refusing to accept and provide infrastructure and support to evolving familial structures. There has never been a greater need to stop looking backwards than there is today. Evolution is not found within the confines of tradition.

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