In the course of discussing my previous post, regular commenter Fuzzie said:
“Blurkel, I have been quiet today digesting your post. Married men are in a pickle. It seems that they have been set up as chumps and the overwhelming majority of women are going to take advantage of the situation.”
This got me to thinking about a theory I’ve had for a long time as to how this situation came about.
Historically from about the Renaissance period, men were generally self-employed farmers, craftsmen, or tradesmen. Most never ventured far from home, not even while working, as the residence was not far from the place of business. They were thus readily available for the unforeseen family problem which might arise. Such a condition was likely to only be interrupted by the outbreak of war. Then, the wives and children of such men were trained and expected to continue the operation of the family business until he returned, and to carry on in the event he did not.
The Industrial Revolution disrupted these traditions. No longer was a man the master of his own fate. He had indentured himself to the orders of another in trade for a wage. The hours he was expected to be on the job added up to more time than any other activity across the week, regularly more than sleeping. 80 hours “on the clock” wasn’t unheard of. In the event of an unforeseen necessity, he could be summoned to work on short notice no matter what else he’d already done.
This obligation had a price: family time. It fell to the wife to fill in when the husband was otherwise occupied. The threat “Wait until your father gets home” evolved for use when her authority wasn’t enough to control unruly children. It had to work well most of the time, for who wanted to face a very tired and angry sire?
But just because Dad was working for another, war still ended up taking him away.
The earliest examples I can locate of women working industrial jobs comes from the US Civil War. At least three separate disasters in weapons manufacture -at Allegheny PA, Brown’s Island outside Richmond VA, and The Washington Arsenal in the District of Columbia- report significant numbers of female casualties. Both sides didn’t have enough men for all of the arms manufacture necessary to conduct the war, and in fact women were preferred to do certain jobs: “Because women had much more slender fingers they were better able to pack the cartridges containing the gunpowder in their casings“.
War has repeatedly given women opportunities they wouldn’t have had otherwise. A largely female work force constructed armaments during American participation in both World Wars, and likely in other nations involved in those conflicts. This had to have affected the societal psychology. I see the WWI female workforce being energized to push for voting rights, which were delivered very shortly after the Armistice and became the law in 1920. I can’t point to a similar “reward” for the WWII workforce, but in both cases women were fired to make room for returning soldiers, and back home they went.
I have heard that there were often marital issues between the working wife and the returning soldier husband. She had gotten used to dealing with life and solving its problems without his assistance, and she wasn’t about to surrender that empowerment. Out he went.
Encouraged by such little victories, those who knuckled under to the return of “The Way Things Are Supposed To Be” eventually got tired of being submissive after tasting the dominant lifestyle, and the women’s movement emerged. One has to ask if something along the lines of the reward granted to the WWI workforce might have deterred this from happening.
But that wasn’t done. Men were still expected to devote more time and energy to the job than they had left to devote to everything else, and women had no limitation on their activities when he wasn’t there. Why do housework when there is a gardening club meeting – or a lingerie show – or a sex toy expo? And so on.
Stuck on the job, there wasn’t much men could do about any of this. And as the economy began to consider men obsolete and expendable, it only opened the door for women to assume yet another formerly male role as the bread winner. He ended up staying home doing her traditional roles, only to hear all too often that he wasn’t doing it right.
Those of us caught up in that condition post-marriage didn’t have any good options. Our lives were pretty much over whether we stayed or divorced. Our lives weren’t our own, and we found little satisfaction or reward for the sacrifice.
As Fuzzie later added: “While half of all marriages end in divorce, it seems the ones that hang in there are suffering too.” Whoop, there it is! “I do have profound and justified fear of losing myself by getting married and becoming a “yes.dear” husband.”
Increasingly, men globally share that fear. In Japan, the millennials are known as “herbivores” because they appear not to have the normal “animalistic” instincts of their ancestors. In Germany, authorities have worried for years that their young aren’t interested in procreation, and thus don’t marry. As late as last month, a Pew Research study reportedly found that If trends continue, millennials will have the lowest marriage rates in modern history.
The official explanation has to do with economics, but that isn’t the only reason. I’ve reported many times that my adult sons are in no hurry to date much less marry. One is open about how he doesn’t see any women worthy of his efforts. Economics has nothing to do with that, does it?
I don’t know for sure how things are going to turn out, but things can’t remain as they are. The only way this game is going to end is for men to not play it anymore. The smart ones already know how to maintain their own residences, taking care of their own domestic needs once done by women. The rest need to learn.
The only remaining issue for men is sex. One has to be very selective about this. Married men end up learning how to do without since that “steady supply” promised as a marital privilege rarely materializes. Single men have to worry about the unplanned pregnancy and common law statutes. It’s no fun, but doing without eliminates the way most men succumb to female blandishments. If that isn’t acceptable, there are always pros who aren’t going to call you up crying that she’s late.
It boils down to this: how important is having a life to you? Get a woman in it, and she takes your name, then your future, then your money, then your house and any kids you have, and you get the leftovers. Sound like a great deal?
I didn’t think so.