See what happens when you let us think?

Something just occurred to me — or rather, it bubbled up from a mess of stuff that’s been percolating in my brain-cauldron for a while. It’s this: men are expected to be loyal to men. Women are expected to be loyal… to men.

Explains everything, really.


12 thoughts on “See what happens when you let us think?

    • I am speaking of general cultural rules, not singling out individuals. I mean, I don’t know you, so I can’t say whether or not you are one of those rare men who can recognize and therefore resist your cultural conditioning. I’m also not decrying the concept of “loyalty” itself. But in general, in our culture (Western culture, North American and Northwestern European version; I can’t really speak for any other) the loyalty of men to each other is praised, while women sticking together as a group and helping each other has been traditionally seen as something either comical (“hen parties”) or threatening (witches’ covens! feminazis!). And really, your life may be a cute little enclave of peace and quiet from all this nonsense, but it’s all around you, and ignoring it or deciding it doesn’t exist because you don’t participate isn’t doing anything much against it.

      • Not sure of if I can resist my cultural conditioning or not since I grew up in the Sixties and that conditioning was all over the place. As to your point about men being loyal to men and women to men, I think it was more of a case of men being loyal to an organization (team/company/military unit). I think this started to change in the Seventies with the growth of women’s sports – there were no women’s team at my high school when I graduated in 1971. My wife was a much better swimmer than me, but her sports participation was limited to being a timer for the swim team. My college had women’s basketball and field hockey teams and that was it. Now the only teams they don’t have are wrestling and football.

      • You can do it! It’s easy if you try! No hell below us above me only sky–

        Scrreech–drags needle across record.

        The Sixties culture is so insidious– getting back to the subject, this goes beyond 20th century American sports metaphors. This goes way back before women were even allowed out of the house in trousers, much less let play basketball in skimpy shorts. It’s like this:

        Men’s activities and organizations were considered important to the outside world. They hunted, fought wars, etc. Men were the public face of their community (in ancient and up to pretty recent times Europe — like I said, I’m not about to speak for cultures I’m not a part of and that I’ve only studied a little). Women were the private aspect — home, hearth, children. And yes, these things are also important… but they were unseen, or mostly so, by the outer world, and as communities grew larger and began to compete for prominence, things that were not out there jostling about and competing and impressing other communities grew to be considered less important. Basically there wasn’t much for women in old Western societies to impress the outside world with–except things that somehow connected them with men and that therefore men could brag about. Things like women’s virtue–in other words, each individual woman’s loyalty to their men. “Our women are faithful and don’t sleep around like your sluts.” And so on.

        Note: this is of course a sweeping generalization and leaves out a lot of details that make this more complex but this is I think the gist of the matter.

      • Sorry, hit the wrong button.

        The point I was trying to make is that as women have more opportunity to participate in sports – particularly team sports your point is becoming less valid.

        As a naval officer from the mid-seventies until the mid-nineties I saw a lot of change in the demographics of the armed forces, especially regarding women’s roles. Didn’t have a problem with it then and don’t have a problem with it now. As long as the ability to do the mission isn’t compromised. Which is another debate entirely. As a society we have seen women’s roles evolve dramatically in my lifetime, both for the good, as well as the bad.

        Feminazis? Really? I have no problem with feminism (equal pay for equal work, equal opportunity, etc.). Not overly fond of being blamed for imagined slights or events of centuries past, however.

        Nice snark about my little enclave of life, btw. Didn’t realize I was preventing 50 per cent of the population from achieving their ambitions and dreams by not joining NOW. I guess my parents’ efforts to have me treat everyone equally with regards to dignity and respect were wasted.

      • Damn woman, you type too fast! Didn’t see your last comment before my last reply.

        Very good points about the relative historical records. I think that is changing as the opportunities for women expand in Western society, particularly here in North America. Definitely not true in a lot of places around the world, however. I think it boils down to economics. John Ringo has a very good explanation of this in one his books (Against the Tide). A lot of it boils down to the general differences in strength and stamina between men and women. In rural and early industrial societies, these differences are crucial – it takes less men to run a farm than it does women. And their logistical requirements are roughly the same. As the basis for the economy shifted to more clerical and intellectual venues, the numbers of women in the workforce increased. As the only sex that can have babies, women (generally speaking) are at a disadvantage in the workplace due to pregnancy and childbirth. It takes you away from the job (even if the father shares the responsibilities). Not fair, I know, but the data is out there.

        The times, they-are-a-changing, however. We have female admirals and generals, CEO’s, senators and congress critters, pro basketball players, airline pilots and very successful television personalities.

        Societal changes of this degree tend to be glacial, I think, as we attempt to change our societies at such a basic level.

        Sorry for the long and somewhat hazy ramblings, but I think much faster than I type and it’s late and that makes it worse.

      • Okay, I guess here is where I say that I don’t really care about sports or think that women doing them is much of an indicator of any real change. The US has been a sports-obsessed nation for some time now so of course we have more women in sports, all must be assimilated into the Borg, but all that means is we still place paramount importance on traditionally male activities like stylized combat in front of an audience. And it doesn’t really say a thing about loyalty; athletes are traded around between teams like chips in a poker game, so you can’t really be loyal to your “team” when you or they might be traded off somewhere new in an instant. But women in sports just brings me back to the girls-are-supposed-to-be-loyal-to-men idea. The old ideal of a “tomboy” who hates girly things is that she runs around with the boys as if she’s one of them. She’s “one of the boys” and she has no time for any of that girl stuff–including making friends with other girls.

        Anyway, I’m not singling you or any actual man out for blame or anything — I’m telling you that this is the way things are. In order to change things in more than a superficial way we will have to have a really big paradigm change in the way we think about everything, and I don’t see that happening soon.

  1. Umm, only in today’s morally bereft climate.

    ‘Women and children first’ was once the summum bonum.

    • That doesn’t really have anything to do with what I’m talking about here — and the application was unevenly applied. I can’t remember where I read it, but someone in an article pointed out that actually following the “women and children first” thing in regards to sinking ships isn’t always the most efficient way of saving lives, and in any case the famous happenstance — the Titanic — came about because they didn’t have enough lifeboats for everyone in the first place. And plenty of lower-class women drowned as well.

      Leaving that aside, I agree that we’ve slipped back in recent decades in regards to men/women relations. I keep going back to the Seventies, when there was a growing sense that women working together to help each other was a good thing, not a sinister conspiracy to destroy Western Civilization. Then the Eighties came and the so-called anti-feminist “backlash,” which doesn’t look all that “so-called” from this later perspective. I’ll have more to say about that one of these days.

      • Loyalty to something greater than self, as represented by the concept of ‘women and children first’ (the ‘Birkenhead Drill’ to be accurate), seems germane to the discussion, to me at least.

        BTW, uneven application of a principle doesn’t invalidate same. And the reason more lower-class women on the Titanic perished compared to the upper-class women was because the lower-class women were in steerage – longer route to lifeboats on the upper decks in a canting ship rapidly filling with water. Little to do with inconsistent application of principle, much to do with economics and physics.

  2. Oh, about the post, I wouldn’t say that is universally true. One thing Ross Perot said that was true was that if a man’s wife couldn’t trust him, how could he?

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