Illich's idea of shadow work, and especially that it falls more heavily on women, reminds me of the idea of the "double burden," frequently used to describe female workers in the Soviet Union who were encouraged to bear children to contribute to society (more workers), work on a collective farm or in other work, and take care of their household. Women often protested the double burden, and collective daycares and other endeavors were undertaken to attempt to alleviate it. The same phenomenon exists, of course, in our society, and is often called a "double shift." Yet rather than quitting one's day job and committing to working at home, the tasks of childcare and homemaking are frequently outsourced--women attempt to "quit" their domestic shift. This seems an entirely unsustainable model and indeed undermines the beautiful, God-given, and different strengths of men and women.

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Incredible writing, Aaron - lots to reflect on.

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A very good article. A small quibble - I think the term "gender" is overused where "sex" would be a more accurate word. But otherwise excellent, leaving me with plenty to think about.

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Oct 18, 2022Liked by Aaron M. Renn

Thanks, this is a good read.

“The degree to which women contribute directly to the food quest in any given society seems to correlate [inversely] with the degree to which manhood is emphasized.”

I once recall an anthropologist arguing rather convincingly that there are really only two types of traditional human societies: the patriarchal ones in which -- due to a combination of technology, environment, and population density -- dedicated male labor is essential to the economic survival of most women (at least if they hope to have surviving children) and in which monogamy is the standard and paternal investment high, and those matrilocal societies in which none of those things are true. God has made his preference clear between these two systems, but in practice both of them were capable of enduring, and religious influences were secondary to economic ones.

Economically, we have transitioned from a patriarchal society to a matrilocal one, but our culture hasn't caught up yet. This is one of the reasons why we aren't reproducing ourselves. Most women really, really don't want to be single mothers (and certainly not to multiple children by multiple men) and birth control and abortion make it possible to enjoy a matrilocal sex life (i.e. with multiple uncommitted partners) while avoiding this possibility. To the degree women desire children at all it's in the context of marriage with a husband of higher status, just like his patriarchal forebears, but women's status has improved as men's status has declined so that the supply of such husbands doesn't match the demand.

I'm not sure what the future holds, but it's clear that our current set of behaviors is unsustainable and in rapid transition.

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Oct 17, 2022·edited Oct 17, 2022

Because of their greater strength, height, and aggressiveness, it is natural that that men should be the leaders in society. Because of the capacity of women to bear children, it is natural that the bonding that occurs between them and their offspring during pregnancy should extend to nurturing and care afterward. Not surprisingly, this is the pattern that is reflected in history. Because it is natural, we can assume that this was God's intent when he created us, and indeed patriarchy is strongly reflected in the Bible. Though less obvious, because men and women were physically designed for different roles, we can expect that mentally they were designed for different roles as well - all for the sake of consistency. A crucial point is that the rightful public sphere of men is not superior to the rightful domestic sphere of women. Together they constitute the necessary complements for an ordered life consistent with our natures.

Feminism has arisen in modern societies because the reduced necessity for physical labor created an opening for ambitious women, who were consumed with pride and wanted to do what men did.

In their twisted thinking, they felt that there was something intrinsically superior to men's activities and they wanted it for themselves. I completely reject the notion that the traditional domain of men is superior to the traditional domain of women. A man running a corporation, writing books, playing sports, plowing a field, or doing plumbing is not doing something superior to the woman who lovingly cares for her children, prepares meals for her family, and keeps a house. Happiness in life does not depend on status. Much more important are commitments, friendships, and the leading of Godly lives.

Unfortunately, most churches, as you pointed out, have utterly failed to denounce feminism. Many claim that the patriarchy of the Bible simply reflects the culture of the time. This is utter nonsense. That is tantamount to saying that the God who inspired the Bible is subservient to the culture. It is the other way around. Christ threw money lenders out of the temple because they were not respecting God. God himself threw Israel into exile when its people didn't follow him. But today, alas, many churches are run by cowards. Thankfully, not all.

The odd thing to me is that men have not vociferously rejected feminism - despite its terrible toll on both them and women. We men seem unable to look beyond the curtain and see the devil at work promoting feminism (and all the woke nonsense that derives the lion's share of its energy from feminism.) After all, if tomorrow, every man woke up and decided to oppose feminism, it would be history within a year. But that is unlikely to happen. Perhaps the average man just cannot get beyond the practical concerns of each day in order to see things in their proper relation. You made a comment that hints at this. You said, "Preindustrial men didn’t have to ask about the vocation of masculinity. It simply was." Today, you might say, "Modern man doesn't ask about the vocation of masculinity because he doesn't see it" though indeed he needs it. Our society needs it. Without it, we will continue to devolve into chaos.

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Good one, Aaron. I’ll be returning to this one.

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