Friday, October 25, 2013
DENNIS: MATRIARCHAL UNDERGROUND – FATHER DIDN'T KNOW BEST! PART 1
One of the things that submissive males should be doing is working on behalf of women. To this end i volunteer at the Women's Center, a local, wonderfully radical, Feminist organization. It's been very satisfying and, at times, very enlightening. Nancy and i occasionally conduct informal workshops at the center aimed at encouraging Female-led relationships. One of the past attendees, a Woman's Studies student at a local college, Kaitlin, became enthralled with Female-led relationships. We always represent FLRs as a current phenomena, but she wondered about prior generations of women and whether they exercised similar authority within their homes and how that compared to today's woman-in-charge. The results of her investigations so far are revealing and very exciting!
There is a social revolution going on right now, one that sees women asserting themselves in the workplace and more and more men leaving that workplace to take up full-time homemaking. It's indicative of a marked increase in women's earnings that is making this all possible. Increasing numbers of women are financially independent so they don't need men unless it's on their terms. Many men, on the other hand, are financially dependent on women and have to play by women's rules. It's all very exciting—an inversion of the social structure and a definite move towards Matriarchy. But, according to Kaitlin’s research, it is not so new a phenomenon.
Since the onset of the recession, the demographics of the workplace have changed, and we are seeing way more women in key positions than we might have expected were we to have looked ahead only ten years earlier. A number of things have combined to move women into the workforce and to move men out. The largest factor is women gaining technical and managerial skills at a rate that far outpaces men. Men have not kept pace educationally. We're finding that on anything resembling an equal footing men lose to women. So women go to work while hubby takes up the role of homemaking. And it's okay for his self-esteem to do so since he can blame it all on the recession.
What we have is a new paradigm where couples are suddenly VERY open about woman-led marriages, husbands taking over the homemaking, and about men coming out against the traditional male-centric social structure. It's rapidly increasing as a viable lifestyle, particularly in the middle- to upper-income soco-economic demographic. But it's apparently not new; it's just out in the open now.
What Kaitlin is finding in her surveys is that women in large numbers in highly paid positions in the workplace may be new, but women being in charge at home is definitely not! It's just that with social stigmas being what they were, submissive men and dominant women played their role quietly or confined it to family and close friends.
We began connecting Kaitlin with women and couples, and she found that about half were woman-in-charge households. And some of the women traced their authority way back to the onset of their marriages in the late ‘40s and ‘50s. What she found was that women in that era were every bit as much in charge of critical aspects of their household as are modern woman in an FLR. The man usually wasn't a homemaker, however; since women didn't have workplace opportunities comparable with those today, he worked, then came home and worked some more! Kaitlin surmises that, in some ways, women of that era had more power than today's FLR couple, since he did it all; there was no tradeoff. This was the era of the “henpecked husband.” Hubby left his socially acceptable man-in-charge image at the door, handed his wife the paycheck, put on an apron, and stayed home to do the dishes while she went out with her friends.
How did women keep control? Well, it may seem silly now, but many men lived in absolute fear of their wife disclosing their henpecked status, so social pressure was a major factor, especially when she had pictures of her man in an apron and, in one case, a dress! No matter the circumstance, he didn't want to give her any reason to mail his pictures to friends and coworkers, even though they might have been wearing aprons, too! (Mail! How quaint! Today a picture of hubby in a dress could go viral in minutes!) Additionally, there was the time-honored, albeit incorrect stereotype of the nagging wife. Women just wouldn't give their man any peace—and men love tranquility; unless he obeyed, that is, he didn't get it! A third method was control of the money; checks came home in those days, she was waiting for it, and it was turned over.
Although of a later generation, this was Nancy's family; the women controlled the money, made the decisions, and did what they wanted when and with whomever they wanted. The men? Well, can you say housekeeping?
This woman-in-charge dynamic in Nancy's family was very attractive to me incidentally. I wanted in! And it was apparently very attractive to other men as Kaitlin found out by speaking to older FLR women and couples. Kaitlin interviewed men alone to get their reactions to an assertive, in-charge wife, and all the men she interviewed confessed to loving the lifestyle! Why? She has some preliminary but interesting findings, which I hope to share with you in later postings.
Clearly we have more women in charge today than ever, but it's been there in the past, particularly in the home. There have been many more men saying "yes, Ma'am" than would admit it, and women who wouldn't admit their domineering role because it defied the “obedient wife” image so prevalent at that time. Kaitlin will continue exploring what really went on in the past, at home and in the workplace. She hopes to interview many more women and couples. In particular she's interested in speaking with couples outside the sphere of the Woman's center to get a broader feel for the extent of past FLRs. How much power did women really have and how did they wield that power? What she's found so far is exciting and will be the object of future posts.