I think it would be a good idea. Oh, not the legal aspects of it: with two narrow exceptions, I think men and women should be treated the same under the law. Rather, I think we should restore the cultural aspect of patriarchy, the idea that the father has a special authority and a special responsibility within the home, and that men, in general, have special obligations within society.
Men are, in general, more powerful (by which I mean more powerful than women; all the comparatives here refer to men relative to women because there are only two kinds, male and female). Men do most of the creating and most of the destroying, impose most of the structure, cause most of the mayhem. Men are the principal actors in society by virtue of their greater drive and aggression and strength, their lesser interest in people, their greater interest in things and in the manipulation and control of things.
Biology made us that way. We don’t have to like it, but not liking it doesn’t make it untrue.
The problem with pretending that men aren’t more powerful than women, or that this isn’t an intrinsic quality of masculinity, is that by ignoring this reality we necessarily ignore the responsibility of managing it. Pretending that little boys aren’t, by their very natures, more aggressive than little girls discourages us from teaching little boys to channel that aggression into positive and productive pursuits. The aggression doesn’t go away, as the mean streets of Baltimore and Chicago sadly attest every single day.
We know how to discipline young men, how to shape the expression of their growing power. We do it by imposing a beneficent authority upon them, an authority that they can look up to and respect, that itself exhibits the kind of self-control and nobility we wish to see them express.
What does that authority look like? It looks like a father — a father, or the martial surrogate for a father represented by the military. Most pointedly, it looks like a father who embraces his role as the primary leader and disciplinarian.
Our culture is moving in the wrong direction as regards the sexes. It encourages men to be ashamed of their strength, women to be ashamed of their vulnerability, and both to deny that these traits are natural and intrinsic to the respective sexes. Under the illusion of freeing men and women from artificial constraints, it urges women to behave with less caution even as it erodes the cultural constraints on male behavior that served to keep men in check.
We are in denial and would be better served by greater honesty about the fundamental differences between the sexes, and the unique role fathers play in raising rough boys to be gentle men.Published in