Paradoxical Patriarchy

This is a guest post by Lucinda Hancock

I am a wife and the mother of eight wonderful children, and with each passing year I become more alarmed at the societal problems they will inherit. Considering how to prepare them, I’ve realized they need to understand their own nature and to discern which choices lead to which outcomes. I want my sons to become worthy men, particularly in treating women with respect. I want my daughters to know how to balance the desire for self-giving with the desire for self-respect.

I am among many women who are coming to understand that feminism has its problems. But the difficulty is in finding an alternative that ensures women are cared for and protected from men who are likely to demean and misuse them. Women need to have high standards for sexual relationships because of the physical and emotional demands of having children, and men generally don’t consider the price women pay in such a pursuit. Relationship negotiations between women and men affect the larger society, and currently, dishonest men have counterfeited the standards for masculine behavior, causing inflation in expectations of what men will promise on the one hand and debased expectations of what men deliver on the other. This has led to an atmosphere of disillusionment among women regarding their relationships with men.

This disillusionment has been useful to feminism. Before I questioned feminism, I would have put feminism and male chauvinism on opposite sides of a spectrum. Male chauvinists assert that the masculine perspective is superior in every respect, and I believed feminists asserted the superiority of the feminine perspective. Yet I found that, in practice, feminism holds women to a standard which rejects the vital importance of femininity, judging women instead based on measures more apt for assessing genderless, and even masculine, performance. Chauvinistic men have successfully made women feel that having children is mainly a personal feminine benefit, and therefore not deserving more of society’s special attention than any other personal interest. Feminists contribute to this idea by asserting that mothers don’t need men, pushing women further from demanding the help they need from men in doing the hard work of building relationships and families, and society itself.

Feminism, like chauvinism, works against the truly feminine interests of most women. The question is what is on the opposite side? What ideology serves the interests of the feminine perspective? The unexpected answer is patriarchy.

What is patriarchy?

Of first concern to women is being able to count on men to fulfill obligations as fathers, allowing women to take on motherhood without the extreme hardships of single-parenthood. Unfortunately, there are always men who reject the offer of a meaningful connection with their children, obtaining reproductive opportunities by deception, and sometimes force, fully intending to avoid any responsibilities as fathers. The efforts of these men throughout history to gain power and social influence have always posed a threat to society because they disregard obligations to children, even their own, and instead, impose disadvantages on them and their mothers. Good fathers cannot tolerate misbehavior in other men because it endangers their daughters and wives and sets a corrupt example for their sons. As a society, we understand fatherhood as an accomplishment rather than a granted aspect of human nature, whereas we have come to regard patriarchy with a distrust arising from the misuse of male physical dominance. But the term itself is derived from the Greek for ‘rule by fathers’, specifically those who fulfill their duty as heads of a household. Patriarchy is the social project of insisting men act as fathers in a meaningful and productive way before allowing them to lead in society, using their role as father to teach their own children and to promote moral fatherhood throughout society. At its root, patriarchy begins with the same understanding we have of involved and responsible fatherhood, that such men are a crucial asset to their wives and children, as well as the whole society, and that a man who responsibly provides for his children, including supporting their mother in her physical, social, and emotional needs, is the only type of man whose proven trustworthiness secures respectability.

In modern times, men who seek to evade fatherhood have almost succeeded in completely overturning even the idea that men should be judged based on how they act as fathers. In fact, degenerate ‘patriarchies’, which devalue women and children by encouraging abuse of paternal power, have become the standard-bearer for the term patriarchy. These corrupted ‘patriarchies’ have turned their backs on authentic fatherhood as a basis for assigning leadership, and only promote the interests of men who are direct enemies of fathers committed to the protection of the interests of women. The fact that they claim to represent patriarchy is a victory for the kind of men who prefer to deceive or outright rape women instead of sincerely loving them. Fathers must persistently combat these self-centered men, and recognize that they will in turn always fight to undermine and destroy the idea of committed fatherhood.

Patriarchy distributes power throughout society by channeling natural male competitive instincts in fathers toward keeping the bad behavior of other men in check, thus diffusing power to ensure rule of law, instead of rule of individuals. All men have instincts toward behavior inimical to committed fatherhood, so patriarchal structure must be rooted in a fixed moral law which provides the logical consistency and direction necessary to produce responsible fatherhood. Identifying such a law must be done by consulting actual fathers whose personal success as assets to individual women and children signal understanding of true principles regarding fatherhood.

Patriarchy can feel problematic for many of us. But we can examine where patriarchies often fail and determine whether it is a failure inherent to patriarchy or a failure produced by a departure from patriarchy. For example, a double standard occurs when parents fear that chastity is too hard for their sons, so they hold a standard which tolerates a “wild oats” phase for their sons, while demanding a rule of chastity for their daughters. This rests on a false belief that young men can engage in “sowing wild oats” without significantly damaging their ability to be good fathers later on. It usually entails an unjust assumption that men have no obligation to respect certain groups of women and their children. But such behavior severely damages a man’s moral character as he habituates himself to devaluing women and his own potential children. Parents who hold a double standard regarding chastity do so to the detriment of their own sons, and the father in particular is actually betraying his patriarchal duty to guide sons toward responsible fatherhood.

Unfortunately, it may take generations for a large portion of society to recognize the damage incurred by such a miscalculation, leading sincere parents to desire guidance and insight beyond mortal experience. And this is what we find in God. His understanding spans generations, and gives direction to help us achieve our wholesome desires rather than wasting effort on goals that thwart our best interests. God, as the Father of all, values humanity as a father does his own children. He establishes a firm standard of fatherhood, a standard which answers urgent questions about what a good father does and what just treatment of others means. With this framework firmly in place, patriarchy can be established to benefit all those willing to live by it.

Promoting worthy fatherhood

Involved fatherhood is a signal of responsible citizenship because it is not particularly natural to men and must be taken up as a matter of rational intent. Examining reproduction from a biological perspective shows us what is necessary to induce more men to participate as responsible fathers. The fact that children simply cannot survive from conception through infancy without maternal attention has ensured that maternal instinct is deeply embedded in women’s genetic heritage. But the necessarily male biological contribution ends with conception, making men genetically inclined to view continued effort after conception as primarily the concern of women, and making it easy to overlook the fact that male sexual instinct exists as an impetus toward reproduction. (Female instinct primarily involves creating relationships that will aid in a child’s survival, which is nearly impossible without some freely-given assistance, in other words, love.) And where mothers through pregnancy and childbirth have a sure knowledge that the child is theirs, men have a limited ability to know if a child is their own, unless some mechanism exists to give them assurance of female fidelity.

Women forget this difference in genetic confidence and assume that men should be naturally motivated toward being involved fathers in every circumstance. Certainly there are men of exceptional character whose commitment to honorable duty outweighs personal biological interest and it’s a worthwhile pursuit to encourage men to strive to attain honorable character even when it is personally costly to them, but society cannot take such character for granted. It must find ways to induce men of common character to contribute.

Significant factors of paternal uncertainty are that female fertility is intermittent and gestation is lengthy. Men don’t have conscious awareness of when a woman is fertile, only of when she probably is not (due to advanced pregnancy or age.) This means a low-status male can completely fail to reproduce, despite being sexually active. A small amount of marital cheating by a few dominant men can deprive lower-status married men of certain paternity which means that most faithful married men, even in ostensibly monogamous communities, have a decided biological disadvantage. Men are less inclined toward social investment to begin with, so where monogamous sexual mores have failed as thoroughly as in modern culture, they typically don’t see any gain from being married at all. Uncertain paternity means men need a higher number of possible offspring to feel confident that at least one of them is actually theirs. (Technological advances, such as paternity tests, offer no effective assurance of paternity, unless a man has the skills and resources to personally carry out such testing. This natural skepticism is based on men’s understanding that there are other men out to cuckold them, particularly when the entire society disdains the ideal of feminine fidelity.)

It takes quite a bit of time and effort after a man is reproductively capable before he can become a good father with the ability to both provide for a wife and children, and effectively protect them from dangers. They must be able to protect their wives and daughters in particular from seducers, abusers and rapists. A mature, dominant man, in addition to easily gaining focused female attention, can confidently invest some of his effort (including his superior male capacity for territorial protection) into directly ensuring the survival and prosperity of children he knows are his. Most men would prefer to have the focused attention of a fertile woman, but in a state of nature, only a man who has achieved dominance can easily access this strategy. A young man’s inability to materially provide and protect sharply limits his access to devoted women, restricting his options and leading to his instinctive desire to use deception, and sometimes force, to play the odds by maximizing his raw number of possible conceptions, hoping some will survive to adulthood without any further help from him.

Once patriarchy makes sexual misbehavior very costly on the one hand, while providing a reasonable opportunity to access the superior strategy of having a devoted wife on the other, more young men will be able to forgo the odds-playing strategy in exchange for the preferred strategy of dominant men. This aspect of patriarchy which helps to assure a wife’s fidelity to her husband is a reliable way to unlock instinctive desires in fathers to help their children. Giving children their father’s instinctive affection can typically only be done with the assistance of the whole community in requiring men to act with responsibility and testifying to a couple’s marital commitment. Failure of social mechanisms and sexual mores set up to reassure men of paternity means that many men withdraw from innate concern for the welfare of women and children. Individuals who contribute to an atmosphere of retribution against men for wanting female fidelity, and thus certain paternity, are depriving children of the benefits of knowing their fathers.

Patriarchy acknowledges the committed father’s unique authority over the moral instruction of his own children. A woman experiences a biologically driven instinct to go along with the dominant authorities of her social group. Where a mother is at odds with her husband, she has the ability as the child’s mother to use her greater natural influence over her child to undermine her husband’s desire to teach his own children according to his personal knowledge. Rendering authority to her husband appears on the surface to curtail the mother’s immediate interests, but it is an important way to protect her ultimate interests, both in fostering agreement in the prevalent social order and in having the maximum support of an involved father for her children. A system that fails to provide a significant incentive for husbands to stay and remain involved will mean fewer men commit, or remain committed, to responsible fatherhood.

Patriarchy and motherhood

Women in a patriarchy receive help in avoiding men who will not materially alleviate the burdens of bearing and rearing children. On the one hand, patriarchy promotes mature adulthood in men. A single woman has a greater probability of attracting a desirable, marriageable man, because of the greater proportion of such men in the population. On the other hand, and of highest importance to women, is that vulnerability to unscrupulous men who sexually exploit women is reduced when committed fathers, having tied their self-interest with that of their families, hold positions of social leadership and men who refuse to accept paternal responsibility are barred from such positions of influence. A community of responsible fathers imposes significant physical threats that severely curtail opportunities for abusing women and abandoning children.

Requiring men to respect and support women in the pursuit of motherhood is an important aspect of patriarchy. Supporting motherhood is the most urgently compelling purpose of all male social organization and innovation. Men are less naturally dependent on established structures for their own survival. Women, particularly as mothers, are not similarly agreeable to solitude and untamed nature. Mothers will be happier and have an easier time raising children when careful preparation of a secure and comfortable home environment has been made. Human beings have particularly difficult childbirth and especially helpless and vulnerable infants, leading to a need for significant material and emotional help. Attentive fathers know that a mother’s careful preparation is good for children, therefore patriarchy as a matter of course invests in celebrating motherhood and materially alleviating burdens from mothers.

Some have argued that this effort demeans the abilities and intelligence of women, pampering them and encouraging them to be weak. They argue that womanhood in general can be celebrated, without singling out motherhood in particular. But this generalized ‘celebration of women’ effectively discourages motherhood because the sacrifices inherent in motherhood are significant. When women can access greater independence, material gain, and other goals and still be celebrated by dominant social authorities for their contributions ‘as women’, almost all women will restrict their investments in motherhood despite their maternal instincts. Celebration of womanhood in general makes motherhood into an illogical choice for individual women, no matter how urgent it remains to the survival of the community. Also, men are by nature attracted primarily to women who are not yet mothers, and instinctively devote more effort to pursuing relationships with women at the beginning of their reproductive years. Failing to focus on mothers in particular thus leads to society-wide worship of youth and childlessness instead. This leads women to pursuing the ultimately futile endeavor of maintaining youthful appearance and lifestyle, rather than developing skills and experience that bring long-term satisfaction and are particularly useful for prepared motherhood. (This intensified focus on nubile womanhood has also led our society to the shameful practice of sexualizing little girls.)

In the current social climate, many who care for women have come to the conclusion that the best way to help them is to indoctrinate them against the strong desire to become mothers. But this often pushes women further from expecting men to help them in giving themselves and their children the best situation possible. Human nature needs women to cherish goals relating to motherhood. It works against long-term prosperity of society for women to feel ashamed of instinctive desires to move beyond virginal appeal and become mothers. Women will have a better sense of well-being, as well as better results in mate-selection, when they are able to trust that leaders in their community will help them be good mothers. Fathers have the responsibility to identify and repudiate dominant ideological and cultural authorities, such as feminism, which direct women away from achieving goals of motherhood and undermine effective control over disruptive aspects of male instinct. Patriarchy invites a woman toward to fulfilling her most essential desires, and gives women the chance to be at peace with themselves as women, as mothers in particular, an elusive feeling in modern times as a result of our culture’s failure to promote motherhood.

Civilization is preserved through strong families and falls when families disintegrate.
Patriarchy seeks to give children committed parental affection, unhampered by the profound stresses of unprepared motherhood, uncertain paternity, or inadequate paternal involvement, and incentivizes the creation of strong families. It is in the family where children are best prepared for success in life and an ability to contribute meaningfully to their society. The mother is able to offer an unconditional love to her child because she has a special link that develops during pregnancy and the initial phase of a child’s life. During that time she and the child do not have distinct biological interests. What’s harmful to the mother is harmful to the child and what’s harmful to the child is harmful to the mother.

This biological entanglement creates a need in the mother to prioritize the safety of the child, equal to her own survival instinct. This is the basis for the child’s sense of innate self-worth. The father, on the other hand, is best suited to the task of disciplining children and giving them a sense of what they owe to others. His ability to not be overly sympathetic with his children makes him capable of effectively disciplining them, and otherwise challenging them to venture out of their comfort zone. His ability to do so without suffering too much psychological distress makes it relatively easier for him to use the rational part of his mind in helping his children learn. This is essential to moral development. (Some assume that this essentially masculine contribution to parenting is not necessary, but children without a father in the home have difficulty learning to behave in an ethical and moral way.) Thus while maternal attention feeds into a sense of self, paternal attention feeds a sense how to relate to others. Where maternal attention is lacking, children mostly suffer from a low sense of self worth, and where paternal attention is lacking, children mostly disregard any need to consider their obligations to others.

The structure of the family will direct children toward achievement of their most innate desires. This involves intentional instruction, as well as modeling father for the boy and mother for the girl. Some disparage the sex-differentiated social constructs that aid children in their transition to adulthood. Although it’s true that some children seem to defy gender categorizations, it is counter-productive to eliminate traditions which prepare children for future desires. Even supposing most innate differences don’t occur until after puberty, it is better to prepare children for future decisions and opportunities they will actually face. Puberty changes little girls into young women and little boys into young men. We shouldn’t pretend that we don’t know what options they will have for accomplishing their future desires. Predictability is vital for reasonable decision-making and so much more when those decisions need to be made fairly early in life to access their full benefits. It’s heart-breaking to see so many have to learn from personal experience the damage that certain choices bring.

In addition to being an indispensable source of moral citizens, strong families place high priority in teaching their children skills that lead to success, both social and economic. Each generation need not reinvent the wheel. Generational build-up of knowledge is essential to the advancement of civilization. And the morality inculcated in families is what keeps civilization running. The shared morality concerning property rights gives enterprising individuals the strong assurance that the workmanship of their hands won’t be stolen with impunity. Similarly, other shared values that lead to more individual freedom and societal development are fostered in strong families.

Paradoxically, patriarchy facilitates prosperity and civilization, which in turn enables a relaxation of vital social norms and sexual mores, astonishing more natural societies who never effectively instituted principles productive of stable civilization. This has certainly been the case in our time. Once vigilance wanes and important leadership positions are occupied by men who are callously indifferent to the needs of children and women as mothers, patriarchy can no longer function to connect children to good fathers. When a man has no assurance that a wife will prioritize his genetic relationship to children, nor honor his desire to rear his children to success as he sees it, the fundamental incentive for men to marry in the first place, or remain committed to marriage, disintegrates. The inevitable result is children increasingly sired by the least worthy men in society, especially those with complete disregard for the welfare of their children, and raised with far less input from the best of men. Thus, the paternal transmission of morality becomes intermittent. Mothers can assist and enable their children to consume for the purposes of safety and survival, but mothers on their own have a harder time teaching children to be independent, self-reliant and morally accountable. When the proliferation of those who consume and return no benefit becomes the rule, civilized conduct wanes. Production falters as uncivilized conduct leads to the trampling of basic property rights. No prosperity can long survive this kind of consumption in the absence of production.


Genuine patriarchy is difficult to maintain and live consistently, so it is understandable that our society has become suspicious of patriarchy. Men and women, both in their reproductive decisions and as parents, have a host of natural inclinations that work against the successful implementation of true patriarchy. There are many opportunities for men to abuse authority when vigilance ensuring committed fatherhood lapses. But working hard to recognize involved and moral fathers as the only men fit for the task of governing society is a reliable way to ensure the feminine perspective is promoted. Patriarchy gives women a greater ability to benefit their children, largely because of benefits they enjoy as mothers. Men are directed toward more intelligent use of their natural masculine abilities and greater worthiness and participation in a larger project than their narrowest self-interest. Strong families form the basis of flourishing humanity which values children and is oriented toward the future. Unfortunately, the thriving prosperity brought about by these benefits can lead to a decay which threatens our continued existence. As we fail to renew our patriarchal heritage, our future will be subject to calamity as we descend from civilized life into a state of untamed human nature. We must reinvigorate our society through gratitude for our patriarchal heritage. We need to restore it as the foundation of true human prosperity and freedom.

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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but that Emma was right to assert she had been Joseph's only true wife.

98 thoughts on “Paradoxical Patriarchy

  1. This was just amazing! Bravo Sister Hancock! And thank you for sharing this on Millennial Star. Thanks also Meg for getting this published.

  2. Wonderful article! I will be reading this again and thinking it over. I’ve had thoughts, as I’ve attended the temple, that pointed me in this direction. I’m so thankful for your articulate voice Sister Hancock and even more grateful for good men and fathers!

  3. I’m a bit iffy on this one. I agree that Patriarchy, when done right, can be good. I just don’t believe it is the best. Also, while motherhood is of prime importance, it only covers 1/3 to 1/2 of a womans’ lifespan. What of her contribution in her other adult years?

    Yes, men should grow up and be real men. It seems, from this, the author thinks Patriarchy is necessary for this. I think it could have been a good tool, just not the best.

  4. Hi Frank,

    What, in your mind, is this best tool, if it is not the true patriarchy Lucinda discusses?

    As for motherhood only covering 1/2 to 1/3 of a woman’s adult existence, the decision to have and nurture children often has impact on the rest of a woman’s adult existence.

    For example, in my case, I am the working parent. So I will have had my 40 year career when I retire. By contrast, my husband, who has been the one to stay home, has significantly disrupted his “adult” contribution to society by being the one to stay home. He only became the stay-at-home parent in ~1998 and would, under normal circumstances, have ended that role ~2016, a span of only 18-20 years. So now (but for our autistic daughter), he would be done with raising children and being available to them, but he is now past retirement age (he married late in life) and his “adult” career will not ever be what is implied by your 2/3-1/2 of an adult life unencumbered by exclusive parenthood.

    For a parent, such as Lucinda, who has borne more than a couple of kids, that span would be 20-35 years. For my own mother, she bore her first child at age 20 and her last child at age 38. Consider that she had significant responsibilities for her children, then from age 20 –> (38+18 = 56), she spent 36 years nurturing children. That’s double the investment my husband would have made under normal circumstances. In addition, her period of exclusive parenthood/motherhood began when careers are beginning, meaning that she would be attempting to enter the workforce at age 56 with little to no prior experience.

    Saying that full motherhood still leaves 2/3 to 1/2 of adult life without needs to be a “mother” is a bit like telling the sibling you are relegating to hauling the sled up the hill that they should rejoice, because not only are they touching the sled for an equal distance, they are actually spending more time with the sled (compared to you, who merely uses the sled going downhill…).

  5. To me, the best is the happy medium between Patriarchy and Matriarchy, where men and women move forward together, each bringing their talents and lacks to become more than the sum of their parts. (there’s probably a word for it, but it’s not coming to mind)

    I don’t think Patriarchy is the best tool to make boys into men any more than Matriarchy is the best tool to make girls into women. It’s just what we have right now. The work for us is to become better, to overcome the current need for Patriarchy.

  6. The purpose of true patriarchy is to give matriarchy the ability to effectively operate. Mothers overburdened by ALL the demands of producing citizens, rearing them, creating society itself…well, that’s unjust, but it’s also impossible. And part of the purpose of the article is to point out that a very small minority of men will participate responsibly when they have no biological impetus (children they know are theirs.)

  7. I’m not really sure what you’re arguing. I wasn’t talking about “career” time, I was talking about actual lifetime. Your mothers’ 36 years nurturing children is less than half her lifetime, and your husbands 20 less than a third (we can hope he gets a long, long life). Even if it’s not spent in pursuit of a “career”, there’s a significant portion of time in their life whomever is staying at home with the children no longer has that responsibility. The post seems to keep the entire focus on parenthood, ignoring the rest of life.

  8. As a man, I find the underlying premise of this article quite offensive.

    The article is full of half-truths. For instance, in the paragraph before the conclusion it says:

    “When a man has no assurance that a wife will prioritize his genetic relationship to children, nor honor his desire to rear his children to success as he sees it, the fundamental incentive for men to marry in the first place, or remain committed to marriage, disintegrates.”

    Part of this is true, part of it is not.

    It’s true that: “When a man has no assurance that a wife will prioritize his genetic relationship to children…fundamental incentive for men to marry in the first place, or remain committed to marriage, disintegrates.” (or at least it’s true if “prioritize” means “will recognize with equal priority”).

    It’s not true that: “When a man has no assurance that a wife will…honor his desire to rear his children to success as he sees it, the fundamental incentive for men to marry in the first place, or remain committed to marriage, disintegrates.”

    There are a lot of problems like this throughout the article.

    I’m the happily-married father of four wonderful daughters. When my very opinionated wife disagrees with the very opinionated me about “how to rear [my] children to success” it does not remove the fundamental incentive for our marriage. How offensive. What it does do is it forces each of us to consider multiple, competing points of view and work towards a rational solution.

    What you are describing is called “unrighteous dominion”. The scriptures teach this principle very clearly:

    “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.” (D&C 121:39)

    Notice the phrase “as they suppose”. The Lord doesn’t say that unrighteous dominion is an extension of actual authority. Why? If we rewind a few verses we find the answer:

    “the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.” (D&C 121:36)

    Priesthood/patriarchal “rights” are “inseparably connected” with “powers” that cannot be controlled nor handled without righteousness. In other words:

    No righteousness = no power = no rights

    We go on to learn that the priesthood:

    “may be conferred upon us, it is true” (D&C 121:37)

    In other words, an unrighteous priesthood holder can still confer the priesthood, and an unrighteous man can have the priesthood conferred on him. (One example of this is Abraham seeking the priesthood from his wicked, idolatrous father (Abraham 1:4, 18)). So, the priesthood “may be conferred upon us, it is true”…then the next word in the verse is the word “but”:

    “but when we undertake…to exercise control or dominion or compulsion…in any degree of unrighteousness…Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.”

    Now, just to review, this article today is telling us that a man’s wife needs to “honor his desire to rear his children to success AS HE SEES IT” or else she’s putting their marriage in jeopardy…but he has absolutely no authority based simply upon his position as a father or priesthood holder:

    “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood” (D&C 121:41)

    That’s right. No power and no influence comes from the fact that we have had the priesthood conferred upon us. Priesthood and patriarchy are so intertwined that this can be easily recognized to also mean that no power or influence comes from the fact that we might have managed to procreate.

    So what do the scriptures mean when they talk about priesthood/patriarchal authority? Fortunately, the verses go on to tell us. Notice that the very next word is “only”:

    “only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile…”

    Priesthood/patriarchal authority is not some “as-he-sees-it-or-the-highway” marital principle. My priesthood authority stems from whether or not I set an example that is worth following, not by virtue of the fact that it was conferred upon me or by virtue of the fact that I’m male.

    People in the church REALLY don’t get this point sometimes. Perhaps that’s why Section 121:34-46 is one of the most quoted general conference scriptural passages. I know it is because my bishop encouraged me to memorize it when I was a priest. After that, I started noticing that a general conference never seemed to go by without those verses being quoted. I even started keeping track of it and (if memory serves) something like 17 general conferences went by before I didn’t hear a speaker teach us from Section 121:34-46.

    Our prophet and apostles try VERY hard to get us to pay attention to Section 121…but Section 121 is not an easy pill for the “natural man” to swallow, so we look for loopholes in it and still get all confused about the meaning of the word “authority”.

    “Authority” stems from setting an example that is worth following and is not recognized by God outside of that context. Because of this, God’s, authority does not interfere with free agency. If my “authority” ever feels threatened just because my wife, for some unimaginable reason, feels like she has equal parental authority with me, then my “authority” isn’t authority at all. It’s unrighteous dominion.

    We can’t solve marital and family issues by teaching each other that authority derives from inherited or conferred hierarchies. Men aren’t poor fathers because they’re being denied some natural, genetic authority. Men are poor fathers when they deny themselves of the authority that comes from righteousness.

    Section 121 ends with a verse that many people misunderstand. Speaking about men who understand and exercise true authority it says:

    “then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.”

    Notice the part that says “without compulsory means”. True priesthood/patriarchal authority has nothing to do with issuing orders or choosing one’s own will over someone else’s will. A righteous patriarchal example naturally produces a righteous dominion that those seeking righteousness will choose to follow. It does not require any sacrifice of authority or dominion from anyone, especially your spouse.

  9. Hi Frank,

    When it comes to the necessary biological portion of motherhood, we are talking about the process of engendering the child (nominally 10 minutes) and the time to birth the child (nominally a day).

    What I believe Lucinda is discussing is the effort required to ensure the birthed infant(s) turn into healthy, moral, capable members of society, embued with self worth and a focus on serving the rest of humanity. That effort extends well beyond the years when the child is a minor, very often including care for the children of the child.

    Lucinda’s argument is that true patriarchy provides a structure wherein matriarchs are honored and fathers have some confidence that the mother of their children is birthing his children and remains faithful to him. Based on that confidence, then, Lucinda argues that fathers are more vested in the successful outcome of the progeny produced by their wife.

    If you have data that indicates Lucinda might be wrong, feel free to bring that to the party.

  10. Lucinda – “The purpose of true patriarchy is to give matriarchy the ability to effectively operate.”

    Maybe there’s a breakdown of definitions, here. You seem to be saying that, at home, women have a matriarchy, since they are the primary influencers of how children grow. Men have patriarchy, which is anything that supports the women in their matriarchy.

    This means Meg’s arrangement with her working and her husband at home (which I’m envious of) is a breakdown of both Patriarchy and Matriarchy. This seems a stultifying and solid line between men and women, each in their own world, none shall pass.

    So I’m not on board. I think the best is between, moving together to carry both loads as they vary in difficulty along the way.

  11. Bravo! Not one quote, not one attribution, not one reference to scripture, not one statistic, and no studies. Who better to ring he bell of righteous patriarchy than an observant woman and mother?


    Parenthood never ends. I wonder if you have children? Asian cultures do not create the artificial end of parenthood you use as the basis of your contention. I would imagine Lucinda has equally well-thought out and cogent ideas about matriarchy and shared power. “Honor thy Father and thy Mother” is an instrument of power, that grows with each generation–under idealized patriarchy as a “definition” for ideal male behavior, rather than power over women.

  12. I think there is a bit of the Utopian search for the best pushing out the good in this article. What I mean is that in a society where people get to choose their leaders this type of world isn’t going to happen. In a society where leaders are chosen for you (i.e., a model like the LDS Church) it could operate, but only in the sphere the LDS Church leaders have sway over. Which (more generally) is likely the core reason why so many religions (now and throughout history) have attempted to take over the governance of societies. They often want dominant control and having to deal with governments based on laws and rights (rather than their own whims) usually doesn’t end well for their attempts to dominate.

    Even the secular world recognizes that engaged fathers and mothers tend to produce the most “successful” families/offspring (however that is measured). The difficult issue is that at the most basic level the individual and social incentives and objectives (short-run) are mismatched. To the extent one can get the individual to sacrifice their own interest for the larger society (“a changed heart”) then the Utopian vision put forward here and often advocated by Church leaders will “work”. But in the event that people are not converted the model simply institutionalizes abuse and abandonment (for example look at how the current fundamentalists implement the supposedly divine principle of polygamy) – when “men” can game the system *because* they start in a place of expected privilege there will always be a significant portion who abuse that privilege.

    What works better? Conversion. People (*men and women*) who understand, believe, and live their covenants will do a better job of raising children to succeed, both mortally and eternally than those who don’t follow that path. Having the influence of God in one’s home is vastly more important than whatever society is doing, or who they are electing/choosing to be in positions of power and influence. There will always be people who make bad choices, and Satan will never stop trying to increase that number – so personal conversion (of both parents and children) is really the only long term defense which can be effective.

    And note that each couple will likely have a somewhat different view of what it means to follow God’s promptings in these intensely personal aspects of their lives.

  13. I would assert that my marriage represents the model of the virtuous woman whose husband is able to therefore “known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.” Even though my husband is not earning a wage, he is an honored member of various communities where he serves.

    I suspect Lucinda would argue that the mechanisms described in D&C 121 are refinements to righteous patriarchy. However without righteous family structure that supports righteous fatherhood as a social norm, the society required for D&C 121 to function doesn’t exist in the first place.

  14. Joel – “Parenthood never ends”.

    Only slightly sorry to be flippant, but “duh”. To satisfy your curiosity, I have five, each with some level of learning disorder up to and including autism. I can only hope the standard of 20 years per child will be enough, though I know it took me longer than 20 to get there myself.

    Of course parenthood never ends. However, there is a significant difference between parenthood of a dependent and parenthood of an independent adult. We’re raising children to be adults, not to stay children forever. At some point they cease to be the focus of your life.

  15. It is interesting to note the national discussion on this point, which sees that those who are financially well-to-do, marriage is sustained, children are nurtured, and as these children mature, they are then well-positioned to succeed in their own right.

    Without societal norms to encourage even the poor and mediocre to marry and honor responsibility to children and the parents who disproportionately care for the children (e.g., women), the poor become increasingly unable to compete.

    Thus the rich, who statistically continue to honor patriarchal values, continue to become more well-off compared to the feckless masses who don’t realize the societal and personal cost of their “freedoms.”

    It is interesting to see those who wish to therefore destroy the prosperity of the “rich,” to ensure that they, despite their wise choices, only enjoy the mediocre outcomes earned by the feckless.

  16. Frank,

    “Behold, this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life…” of my children.

    Respectfully, your comment “At some point they cease to be the focus of your life,” is incorrect if we are to emulate our Father.

  17. Hi Meg,

    You know I think you’re great, but I need to disagree on this one:

    “I suspect Lucinda would argue that the mechanisms described in D&C 121 are refinements to righteous patriarchy. However without righteous family structure that supports righteous fatherhood as a social norm, the society required for D&C 121 to function doesn’t exist in the first place.”

    You’ve still got it all out of order. Section 121 is not a description of what to do AFTER men get their supposed genetic, patriarchal authority. Section 121 clearly defines exactly what “authority” is, and exactly what “authority” isn’t. You can’t setup a righteous authoritative systems like the “righteous patriarchy”, “righteous family structure”, or “righteous fatherhood” that you mention before you recognize the limits of righteous dominion.

    D&C 121 isn’t the icing on the cake of a righteous society, it’s the foundation of a righteous society.

  18. Beau,

    The Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ cannot be used in political and public discourse regarding the responsibilities of fathers. And there is no question that doctrinally Fatherhood is both independent of Priesthood and preeminent. The “Proclamation to the World” on the family does not mention D&C 121. I would hope that Lucinda could give her insights on fatherhood in a place like this and feel safe to assume that she meant that mothers and fathers are to “help one another as equal partners.” Actually, I believe she says it rather nicely.

  19. Hi Beau,

    LOL – I originally thought you had written, “Meg, I know you think you’re great…”

    I love it that my husband, who has been raised to honor his opportunity to cherish and nurture any of God’s children who come within his sphere or influence, regardless of parentage, has worked long and hard to righteously nurture me and help me become continually a better person. All based on D&C 121.

    I agree that the principles of D&C 121 ought to be the foundation of any righteous society. But I still suspect Lucinda is concerned about the effect current social experiments that deprecate patriarchy and matriarchy is having on the ability of the vast majority to have access to righteous society.

  20. Unfortunately the very word ‘patriarchy’ has taken on toxic associations, yet one of the revered titles of God is ‘Father’. In the Church we use the terms ‘Patriarchal Blessing’ and ‘Patriarchal Priesthood’. I don’t believe Lucinda is arguing for any form of unrighteous dominion. As for time invested in being a father or mother, the years of childhood and adolescence really shouldn’t be counted in the calculation, but once you become a parent to another human being you will continue to have some responsibility, if only that of setting a righteous example to grandchildren, for the rest of eternity. The needs of the individual have become paramount in our world, often to the detriment of society. Fatherhood, exercised as an investment in the welfare of wife and children, is much needed.

  21. Joel,

    You said “The Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ cannot be used in political and public discourse regarding the responsibilities of fathers.” That’s obviously not true since I just did it 🙂

    …more later…I need to attend some meetings that will consume most of my time today and tomorrow, so sorry for leaving the discussion when it’s still just getting started.

  22. So nice to hear your comments! I agree that true patriarchy is doomed to be short-lived in this mortal sphere, with varying degrees of departure and damage from such departure, to the point that patriarchy is infamous for oppression in modern times. Despite this, correctly identifying and defending truth is worthwhile, even though we are doomed to struggle against our own imperfection. In one draft of this article, I brought up the life of Charles Dickens. Here’s from that version “A tragic example is found in the life of Dickens. Many people remember Charles Dickens for his depictions of traditional morality when it came to ethical relationships. He became a cultural icon in his own lifetime for his ability to write powerfully in bringing to light the goodness of family love and the canker of greed, deceit and violence. Yet like so many powerful and successful men, he personally was eventually corrupted by his high degree of social influence. Once he had achieved remarkable success, he abandoned the wife he had eloquently declared as feminine perfection in his earlier years. They had more than a few children together, yet he decided they had become incompatible. He spent the remainder of his life attending to a young woman named Ellen Ternan called Nelly.

    This story of Dickens would be bad enough if it were an anomaly, but reading the concluding sentences of an article written by a male admirer of Dickens reveals otherwise:

    “As a result, his behaviour to his wife was vindictive and appalling. But few of us male writers would do well if judged by our virtue as husbands. We revere Dickens so much because he understood the importance of the lost, dark and often tear-stained places of our childhood. His exuberant journey was tortured. If Nelly brought him comfort and he made that frantic exploration on our behalf , God bless her. If, as one suspects, the relationship made them both more miserable than happy, how terribly sad.”*

    This sentiment reveals an appalling attribute of so many men, one that ultimately makes it all but impossible for women to trust men with any degree of concentrated power or social standing. It exemplifies the kind of chauvinistic male loyalty that uses authority and social influence to excuse misbehavior in themselves and others merely because they are ‘great’. Both men and women have a tendency to accept leadership of ‘great’ individuals despite their demeaning sexual misconduct toward the women most dependent on them. All the same, allowing those with the greatest influence on society to be above the basic standards of acceptable behavior is incompatible with maintaining civil order.”

    *(As always, use caution with internet images. I do not personally recommend this site. Reference:

    But in the interest of brevity, dealing with this issue of male misuse of patriarchy became just a short explanation of the need to diffuse power to protect against rule by individuals, as opposed to rule by law. In contrast to the popular understanding that patriarchy is the project of restricting women from having social influence, the whole project of patriarchy involves restricting bad men from ruining society for everyone, women in particular. The former understanding is not compatible with human thriving, let alone belief in a just God, whereas the latter is essential to giving women real freedom and social influence.

  23. Let me parse into this a comment from a man from a parallel e-mail discussion of this article:

    “That’s a nice article. I apologize on behalf of all men for the ones that didn’t understand that the article is not intended to convince them.

    “A more appropriate article for men would be one that either extolled the benefits of responsible fatherhood, or one that detailed why men shouldn’t encourage women they aren’t married to to sleep with them.”

  24. This article made me think about a lot of things in new ways.

    I did come out of it a little confused as to what “patriarchy” is. I can see that giving men special honor in society for being a reliable father makes perfectly good sense. And its easy to see that if men (in general) can’t rely on sexual fidelity that they should (statistically on average) be driven away from fatherhood and towards having sex with as many women as possible as their best biological strategy. I can even agree that men having notable say in how to raise their family is probably necessary to get men to want to be ‘involved.’

    But I’m a bit unclear if this really is ‘patriarchy’ per se. Does this, for example, imply that men should have “final say” in a marriage? And if not, is that truly ‘patriarchy’ in the way most people think of it? If it’s patriarchy not how people really think of it, then what is it? Does ‘patriarchy’ in this context merely refer to honor towards reliable men? Or does it actually imply holding open positions of power/influence for them in some way once they are ‘proven’. (i.e. man as “head of home”)

    In the comments you say patriarchy supports matriarchy, but again, normally I’d think of those two terms as mutually exclusive. But you clearly do not.

    So how would society create the ideal ‘patriarchy’ you are supporting? If you look to the church as a model there is obviously some sense of ‘head of home’ and ‘priesthood leader’ being expressed as a proven man’s position. But even in the church it isn’t clear exactly what that means in practice all the time.

  25. Perhaps we can all agree that male chauvinism is a problem, but is there such a thing as female chauvinism? We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion… but is it possible for women to exercise unrighteous dominion as well? What exactly is “patriarchy”? Is it an ideology? If so, how can an ideology possibly serve anyone? Are men and women reducible to biological inclinations? With such a low opinion of men, what can the promotion of “patriarchy” possibly mean, and how can a correspondingly low opinion of women be avoided? Are men (and women) merely biological constructs rather than living, thinking human beings with divine potential? And what, by the way, is a “low status male”? Are there “low status” females? Charles Dickens made some mistakes… are all men therefore evil? What are the sources for the author’s opinions?

  26. From Bruce Nielson: “So how would society create the ideal ‘patriarchy’ you are supporting? If you look to the church as a model there is obviously some sense of ‘head of home’ and ‘priesthood leader’ being expressed as a proven man’s position. But even in the church it isn’t clear exactly what that means in practice all the time.”
    I’m not actually trying to hammer out a precise way forward. I wrote this essay to make room for gratitude for our patriarchal heritage, but I admit it doesn’t necessarily provide a solution to urgent societal questions, even within the church. I also wanted to provide an alternative to feminism in understanding how women’s interests can be protected. Many good people are often put on the defensive when it comes to women’s issues, and my hope is that they will be able to have more confidence in discussions about women.

  27. Excellent post. Patriarchy subdues the man and places him within the umbrella of the home, a place where he is not naturally inclined to stay, but where he is needed. But if he submits to this responsibility, he will find himself tamed and civilized.

    The woman would be far superior in being the head of the home, but it is given to the man to subdue and bridle him. Instead, God removes the woman from her natural place as the gifted and conscientious head of the home, and puts her under the Man, thereby humbling her in her superior gifts, and giving her an opportunity to challenge and refine both the Man and herself in a lifelong battle of the sexes.

    But the woman still rules subversively, and always has. Eve got Adam to take the fruit. Sarah got Abraham to kick Hagar out of the tent and give Isaac the birthright. Rebecca got Isaac to give Jacob the birthright. And Leah got Jacob to marry her before Rachel. Women rule!

  28. ‘What are the sources for the author’s opinions?’ We have grown accustomed to the idea that opinions that grow over time through experience and discussion in a variety of settings are not valid unless they can be backed up with quotes and statistics. One of the things I learned first in high school as a debater and later as a college student writing research papers was that you can find quotes and statistics to back up any opinion. Lucinda is a mother, but she earned a degree in mathematics. She could have provided plenty of evidence to support her opinion, but the conclusions she reached were wrought in the struggle of being a wife and mother and in conversations with other thoughtful people.

  29. (Note I’ve not read the comments yet – so forgive me if I repeat someone)

    I’m quite sympathetic to this general thrust. That said, I do have some problems with this.

    For one, while I’ve been quite critical of some elements of feminism I worry when it is treated as a huge undifferentiated whole. Feminism encapsulated a whole variety of movements, views, and strategies. There are plenty of people who love second wave feminism and hate third wave. Some agree with the aims of of many contemporary feminists but hate the strategies they use to try and achieve those aims. Many contemporary feminists have views of appropriate behaviors that are completely at odds with each other.

    We should be careful with the term. Further, the media doesn’t exactly give a terribly good representation. (Think of how you and your community and beliefs are often represented) The media primarily is interested in clicks and views these days. They know controversy draws eyes. They often aren’t interested in providing a contextual view. Oversimplifying categories happens all the time.

    My second point is that we should be very careful pushing the theories within Evolutionary Psychology too far. (The claims of how men and women view sex in this article are ultimately tied to a lot of this) I think humans are quite complex and overly simplistic claims about men and women often distort. I think many feminists use these sorts of distortions and I think many feminist critics do as well.

    Finally I’d caution about buying into catch-all categories like “Patriarchy.” It’s so broad as to defy meaning. (Seriously, try and pin down what people mean by it beyond examples. It becomes some nebulous “social cause of what I dislike.”) I think it doesn’t help feminists and it doesn’t typically help when we use it. (There are cases where perhaps it’s more carefully used – but I just find it vague and often lends itself to saying, “my opponents are against this therefore I should be for it.”)

    The reality is that both men and women have biological needs to prioritize the safety of their child. Saying one has it more than an other is dubious in my view. Further pulling apart what is biological from what is social seems hopeless at best. Using these ideas dressed up in quasi-scientific clothing makes us uncritically create roles we should be following. I’m very skeptical for instance that men are “best suited to the task of disciplining children and giving them a sense of what they owe others.” I think that both parents should be administering consistent discipline so that children know what to expect. Likewise both should be teaching children responsibility. When it’s left to just one figure kids both get mixed messages but also inconsistent enforcement.

  30. Lucinda, Nicely done. But sadly there are readers, even of conservative Mormon blogs, who just don’t want to understand. Please pity us when we meet these men in priesthood meeting. They construct themselves little straw men out of a few phrases or words then attack them relentlessly. They demand scholarly rigor in all statements but offer none themselves.

  31. I like the article overall. While I am interested in the worldly view of patriarchy, I am more interested in how the church sees it. While not authoritative, see Brent A. Barlow’s “Strengthening the Patriarchal Order in the Home,” Ensign Feb. 1973, and Elder Dean L. Larson, “Marriage and the Patriarchal Order,” Ensign Sept. 1982. Interesting that in Barlow’s piece he quotes someone from 1968 – over 40 years ago – who recognizes the disappearing role of the father in the home as a leader. I have witnessed the weakening of the father’s role in the homes of Latter-day Saints. I can’t attribute it to any one thing. But if the patriarchal order is the order that will exist in the eternities, perhaps, at least on a church level, we should address it head on and encourage righteous patrimony.

  32. Another fun comment from the parallel e-mail discussion:

    I admire your courage in putting your ideas out there. I thought it was funny that someone said you had a low opinion of men; like, I want to reassure that person that you have at least as low an opinion of women, especially unrighteous ones!

  33. I discussed some of the ideas put forward here by Lucinda with a non-LDS co-worker. It got traction. I am certain you all struggle as I do to craft arguments for the secular arena that can stand without reference to eternal truth. Ultimately, I know it is futile; but if God has real reasons for the way He created us, what He tasks us with, and if there are spiritual truths about our gendered natures even independent of Him that if understood would explain why He has ordered these things as he has, then, even while we say, “God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts,” we should be able to point out how resistance or defiance of that divine influence, though unacknowledged in the discourse, has adversely impacted individuals and society; and also be able to point out how living in harmony with a principle, though unattributed to God and spiritual law, could positively impact individuals and society. Simply put, the temporal effects should be observable across the spectrum of the human condition, including the biological. Again, I am not trying to take God out of the picture and perhaps that is what Lucinda is being accused of here by some, but I applaud the effort here and don’t think she is trying to take God out of the picture.

    I agree with John Harvey Swenson, only conversion will ultimately do, but we may also be able to relate in conversation to our unconverted, secular friends without them feeling we are always trying to convert them, by offering insightful arguments that run counter to the onslaught of thought that currently undermines fatherhood and motherhood and paints them as unneeded or even unhealthy relics.

  34. I’d like to venture an analogy at this point. I would compare female instinct to the Sun and male instinct to fire. Both Sun and fire are a benefit to humanity in providing light and heat, but one requires significant control measures to ensure it isn’t destructive, whereas the other is more regular and natural. Mankind has successfully tamed fire, but they have not changed the inherent nature of fire. The fire of a gas furnace is reliably safe. But it doesn’t follow that it has no relation to the more dangerous and destructive forms of fire. Sun and fire are things whose effects we can all observe, though our direct experience with finding ways to control fire are probably less frequent than in generations past. We don’t have direct access to understanding our instincts, but we can observe their effects, and I think that we moderns take a lot for granted when it comes to the control measures that help channel male instinct for the benefit of humanity.

    God has made us subject to nature, but he has also given us the gift of reason, and “He giveth to all men liberally”. I think God enjoys when we figure things out, rather than restricting ourselves to wisdom received from authority figures. I know that is my experience as a parent. Many believe that the natural world is just random, and doesn’t make any sense, but I really think God has embedded eternity in our mortal, observable experience. It’s not restricted to scientists or prophets.

    This understanding is reflected in Moses 6:63. “And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me.”

  35. “I think God enjoys when we figure things out, rather than restricting ourselves to wisdom received from authority figures.”

    Perhaps I am misunderstanding, but wasn’t your post all about the importance of “patriarchy,” and doesn’t “patriarchy” have something to do with “authority figures”?

  36. That is a great analogy, and a great verse of scripture. Of course the author is the expert on her own experiences and opinions, and we are indebted to her for sharing them. But given the possibility that other opinions and experiences exist, might I venture to reformat the questions I posed previously:

    Are only men guilty of unrighteous dominion?
    Is patriarchy an ideology?
    How can an ideology serve anyone?
    Are men and women reducible to biological inclinations?
    If men are mostly like Charles Dickens or fire, how can promoting “patriarchy” make them any better, or more sun-like?

    While this is certainly a conversation worth having, and while the author has expressed some very interesting ideas in thought-provoking ways, like some responders, I remain skeptical about certain aspects of her argument. My hope is that the answers to questions like these can help clarify what is meant by “patriarchy” and why it is therefore a “paradox.”

  37. I’d like challenge the notion that matriarchy, operating alongside patriarchy, is restricted to the home. As mentioned in the essay, women are oriented toward freely-given assistance, friendship, and love. This often makes their social influence less visible to men because it is less measurable, but it is not therefore unimportant. Say for instance that a mother operates her home in strictly quanitfiable terms. She pays allowance according to measurable contributions made, and children pay for every good or service they receive. She charges taxes, part of which are to pay back her efforts and expenses in pregnancy and childbirth. She accounts for every exchange: sandwiches, stories, quelled tantrums, time-outs, time and material spent nursing, hugs. Every interaction has a fee. This would boast GDP, but it would disincentivize important family interactions that don’t bring immediate, visible, and quantifiable benefit. This is not a good way to help children thrive. Friendship and love are more effective tools in feminine efforts in the home, and outside the home. Our society’s masculine obsession with measurable, economic exchange is immoral because it disincentivizes immeasurable feminine contributions to the whole society, in and out of the home and it is a model that eventually falls in on itself and brings dissolution rather than prosperity.

    In the essay I bring up that motherhood is celebrated because that is the feminine project that is biologically linked to fatherhood. But it doesn’t follow that women would be restricted to activities observably and measurably linked to maternal endeavor, just as men would not be restricted to activities which are obviously fatherly. True patriarchy restricts female movement in society primarily as a means of protection from dangerous men. But more successful and widespread patriarchies reduce the ability of dangerous men to threaten women outside the home, making them more free to make immeasurable, and vital, contributions to the whole society.

  38. The feminist movement has hijacked the term patriarchy, transforming it from a term to describe rule by honored fathers (with matriarchy being rule by honored mothers) and making it synonymous with “oppressive rule by men.”

    Xen asks:

    Q. Are only men guilty of unrighteous dominion?

    A. Obviously not. Just women have historically had less purview for wreaking havoc due to their unrighteous dominion.)

    Q. Is patriarchy an ideology?

    A. I think patriarchy, itself, is not an ideology. Rather, placing honorable fathers in a position of power is part of any number of ideologies, in that patriarchy allows irresponsible men to be marginalized and women who are raising children to be protected and supported in this intensive endeavor.

    Q. How can an ideology serve anyone?

    A. I suspect you are using this term in a very specific manner, and I’m not sure which special meaning you are using, other than it’s a special meaning where ideologies can’t serve individuals. However, as I answered above, patriarchy, itself, isn’t the ideology, as I see it.

    Q. Are men and women reducible to biological inclinations?

    A. No. However they are most certainly strongly influenced by biological inclinations. Men and women are not as instinctual as animals (such as rabbits), however studies prove time and again that men are attracted to those attributes in women that indicate youth and fertility (e.g., red, large hip to waist ratios, lustrous hair, etc.) So even though a man might think he is not driven by reproductive instinct, science indicates that statistically he is. Women tend to be driven by indicators that a man can support a family (wealth, position, power) and secondarily by indications of virility. The phenomenon with women seeking out young hotties and cat-calling is (in my experience as an old woman) something that came about with the sexual revolution, in large part as a conscious decision to claim for women those behaviors that men had traditionally engaged in. Thus these new female behaviors are less nature than nurture.

    Q. If men are mostly like Charles Dickens or fire, how can promoting “patriarchy” make them any better, or more sun-like?

    A. I don’t think Lucinda indicated that men can become sun-like by nature. Rather that social constructs that strongly punish irresponsible male behavior (versus merely sustaining men in power because they happen to be the same gender as righteous patriarchs) allow men to more easily contain their fire-like attributes.

    Thus, in a true patriarchal society, Dickens would have been punished for abandoning his wife and children. In a patriarchal society that embraced polygamy, Dickens might have been able to marry Nelly in a construct that retained support and honor for the original Mrs. Dickens. However the society that allowed Dickens to abandon wife and children without significant censure was not a proper patriarchy, but a chauvinist hell that clothed itself in the respectability of “patriarchy.”

  39. I would add to Lucinda’s point that there are many contributions to society made by those whose contribution can’t be assigned a quantitative measure. I think of the difficulty our quantitative age has with disabled people who can’t support themselves. The good the lives of these people bring to humanity, if reduced to dollars and cents, might lead some to presume that these individuals ought properly be aborted before birth (as happens in 90% of cases where a child is detected to suffer from Downs Syndrome via amniocentesis). In a similar manner, people come to value a life that has quantitative value to the point where they will intentionally end their own life prematurely (as in, before nature would have taken the life) or help a loved one die prematurely (as occurred in the case of my grandmother due to the never-requested “compassion” of one of her children).

    True patriarchy, as part of whichever ideology you wish, then promotes a view that all individuals have intrinsic worth. Those who are able are to support and nurture all. Those who are not able are still requested to contribute what they can.

  40. So yeah, definitions. Feminism isn’t so monolithic as you describe. Though there are some who believe in “mothers don’t need men”, it’s very uncommon. Most feminists I know want men to be good fathers, an help meet (equal to) for mothers. They also tend to believe that the best way to protect women from “dangerous men” is not to “reduce the ability of dangerous men to threaten women outside the home” (which I don’t even know how you accomplish; shock collars?), but to teach the men to not be dangerous.

    One of the difficulties I find in looking toward a grand future where everyone gets along and is treated well is that we can miss what can be done now to help mitigate the problems we have. What can be done -right now- to help make things better?

  41. I know I have been protected from rape because of the understanding in the military that “No” means “No.” Even so, we get the “opportunity” to be trained regarding Sexual Assault Prevention on an annual basis. And as well-publicized, there are thousands of cases of sexual assault (not just sexual harrassment) in this well-trained military each year.

    I think you are also misunderstanding definitions here. In our modern age, women routinely sleep with men they would never date with an intent to marry, because casual sex has become an expected activity between acquaintances. To refuse such casual sex (with requesting guys and gals) is to be prudish and a bigot.

    There are those, like my best friend in high school, who need help telling an opportunistic man to get their hands off the chest, face, and other portions of the objecting woman. In my friend’s case, it was me hooking my hand around her jaw and dragging her out of the car the would-be sexual partner was driving.

    When I got felt up in a bus in Italy, I grabbed the man’s hands and dragged him out onto the sidewalk, then screamed at him in my best missionary Italian.

    But most women haven’t been socialized to actually stand up to men, even though we love seeing bad-ass heroines kick butt in movies. A reason for this is that women are physiologically suited to the long-term business of gestating babies, where men are physiologically suited to hunt big game. Almost any man can beat up any woman, even when sheer size would make you suspect that the woman should have the advantage.

    There are well-defined schools of feminism. Are you conversant with Butler?

    One of the difficulties Lucinda and I have with the self-congratulatory efforts being done now to “mitigate problems” is that they often have deleterious side effects to which the do-gooders are blind. Such as destroying all patriarchy in an effort to eliminate the stupid damage done by male chauvinism.

  42. I agree with almost everything Lucinda says, but the original essay is a little bit lofty. I would enjoy reading a follow up piece that outlined some practicable solutions (i.e. NOT shock collars! [that was very funny, though]), or cited examples of practices and laws that truly protect families, rather than try to “help” women become like men (thanks, but no, thanks!)

  43. I’m hardly conversant with myself, but I looked enough to remind myself that I completely reject Butler. I believe strongly in two genders (male and female), and that there are things inherent to each. I just don’t agree with those who would tip the scale over into complete separation, divvying up roles where there is no leeway for individual (and couple-ual) adaptation.

  44. Thanks Meg. I appreciate your clarifications. My questions were directed to the author who seemed to indicate that “patriarchy” is an “ideology” that serves the interests of women:

    “Feminism, like chauvinism, works against the truly feminine interests of most women. The question is what is on the opposite side? What ideology serves the interests of the feminine perspective? The unexpected answer is patriarchy.”

    Though I agree with many things the author wrote, I hoped to gain more clarity on what she meant by connecting the term “patriarchy” to “ideology.” I am more skeptical of “feminist” ideologies than “patriarchal” ideologies, but I tend to be skeptical of ideologies in general, including any that might appeal to me.

    The author also referred to “patriarchy” as a “social project” that insists that “men act as fathers in a meaningful and productive way before allowing them to lead in society.”

    If “patriarchy” is merely an “ideology” or a “social project,” how can it gain traction over the myriad ideologies and social projects that infest the world? Is it possible that “patriarchy” or “the rule of fathers” is more than an ideology or a social project? (I think the author hints at this with the scripture she quoted and her reference to God as the “standard of fatherhood”)

  45. Hi Xen,

    Responding because I am not a mother with eight children. Since I know Lucinda, I know how young those eight children are (versus, say, my three who could all fend for themselves if circumstances demanded).

    You ask “I hoped to gain more clarity on what she meant by connecting the term ‘patriarchy’ to ‘ideology.'”

    I had missed that Lucinda herself called patriarchy an ideology. My bad. Yet I don’t know that you represent a majority or even a significant minority when you balk at considering patriarchy an ideology. This seems to be a sophist argument, splitting hairs to gain argumentative advantage. Feel free to explain why ideologies are specifically bad and useless.

    The great thing I felt Lucinda did with this piece is illustrate what a good patriarchy accomplishes. A society that has a consensus that supports righteous fathers (parents) and discourages abusers (of either gender), that differentiates between female urges and skills and male urges and skills, that considers the value of properly nurturing future generations, this society will thrive.

    That which has been considered patriarchy in the past was not a true patriarchy, as Lucinda clarifies. The patriarchy which modern people abhor was not actual patriarchy but male chauvinism. In the attempt of moderns to correct the errors of the past, they are making chauvinism the province of both men and women (as in encouraging women to embrace the stupid cat-calling, leering aspects of what was previously only male behavior) and tearing down the privileges and honor that encouraged men to aspire to be good fathers and (in that vein) protect all women.

    The simple idea that patriarchy is not the universal evil that moderns have declared it to be is of use.

    In my own discussions of the recent push by some to obtain female ordination in the LDS Church, I have highlighted the difficulties sharing priesthood would pose to women. We can study other denominations and see how admitting women to the clergy has failed to increase participation (despite the grand promise that women would flock to such egalitarian institutions). Men, already disproportionately under-represented, become less likely to attend. This places an ever-increasing burden on the females of such congregations.

    In LDS circles, keeping priesthood reserved for men reduces the disparity between numbers of men and women who are active. Therefore it lessens the burden women are required to bear. While there are some who claim they would be happy to bear more of the burden, are they similarly happy to see a reduction in the number of total participants, with the departure of the silent male population who will decide they have better things to do than sit around and have a bunch of [insert derogatory comment] teach them about Jesus?

    I am also reminded how LDS circles have been forced to discipline unrighteous men. When Richard R. Lyman started canoodling with the woman he hoped to be sealed to in eternity, the matter wasn’t covered up. The rest of the apostles sought out this evil behavior and exposed him, removing him from membership and his apostleship, even though in Lyman’s case he hadn’t abandoned wife and children. Similarly, when various apostles ignored the change in rules that came about with the Manifesto, they were called in and censured. Joseph F. Smith sat vigil at John W. Taylor’s bedside to ensure that no well-intentioned male Stake President succeeded in restoring Taylor’s blessings before the due time of the Lord. John had been a great friend to Joseph F. Smith, so this duty (of disfellowshipping, then excommunicating, and finally standing dire vigil) was not triumphalistic.

    But it was his patriarchal duty.

    The idea of the goodness of pastoral care, patriarchal nurture, and paternalism is, in and of itself, valuable. If we damn pastoral care, then we lose all the beauty of the symbol of Jesus as our shepherd. If we lose the ideal of patriarchal nurture, we are left devaluing that portion of parenting that develops caring interpersonal social behavior. If we throw off all paternalism, then we begin to chafe at the idea of a God who asks us to behave contrary to our nature in order to achieve the potential He sees in us.

    When we give up on honoring Father and therefore honoring the righteous fathers among us, we may find ourselves to be as Augustine, who:

    “among my friends, I was ashamed to be less shameless than they, when I heard them boasting of their disgraceful exploits–yes, and glorying all the more the worse their baseness was. What is worse, I took pleasure in such exploits, not for the pleasure’s sake only but mostly for praise. What is worthy of vituperation except vice itself? Yet I made myself out worse than I was, in order that I might not go lacking for praise. And when in anything I had not sinned as the worst ones in the group, I would still say that I had done what I had not done, in order not to appear contemptible because I was more innocent than they; and not to drop in their esteem because I was more chaste.”

    Augustine, in this, seems so au courant with moderns that it’s almost hard to credit that he was writing 1600 years ago.

    As for the ways and means for demonstrating the value of true patriarchy, it must needs be spread person to person, articulately defended before the myriad corrupt ideologies and social projects that infest the world. Any other method would be, as Alma opined, sinful for us to wish for.

  46. Assumptions:
    1. Heaven is a patriarchy, and patriarchy is an ideology.
    2. God is the Patriarch, and represents the masculine ideal. Heavenly Mother, the matriarch, represents the feminine ideal.
    3. Our worship of Heavenly Father without reference to Heavenly Mother is essential to the doctrine of patriarchy. What I mean is that her exclusion from our system of worship and reverence did not arise from a male dominated society as modern thinkers insinuate, but is rather part of His revealed will that we point to the Man of Holiness as the example and object of worship and not the feminine.
    4. Men are made most masculine when they define themselves in relation to the masculine ideal represented by the Great Patriarch.

    Then we theorize that:
    For women, the patriarchy paradox is that ultimate femininity is attained when women define themselves in relation to the masculine ideal represented by the Great Patriarch, NOT by trying to define themselves independent of the masculine ideal or as aligned with the implicit doctrine of a heavenly mother.
    Some of these “assumptions” are doctrinally explicit, some are things we have wondered, like, why we don’t talk openly from the pulpit about mother in heaven or worship her in any way external to our sure knowledge that she is “one” with father in heaven.

    So, if patriarchy is as foundational as prayer to both men and women, perhaps it is a revealed ideology to be embraced in order to maximize potential for both male and female–of course, without all the cultural corruption which heaped falsehoods aplenty on spiritual and revealed gender roles. In this light even the symbol of the rib from man to create woman would be meaningful.

    I liked what Lucinda had to say because it made me think things I had not considered on this topic. So thanks again. I’m glad Meg answered your questions Xen, because I thought at first you might just be trying to cleverly say, with your questions, that Lucinda’s observations and conclusions were invalid.

    To sum up, I am more ready now to think that patriarchy is indeed an ideology, without wincing for my female counterparts in the gospel, and that it is perhaps far more beneficial than I had previously considered for both male and female character development.

  47. [Obviously rarely ashamed to make a comment…]

    One matter I think women find bothersome in Mormon circles is that we do know there is a Mother in Heaven. We used to talk about her before people started praying to her. Even after that shift, I have had leaders (mostly men) who talked of Mother in Heaven. And as the Music Director, I get to sing about her rather frequently from the vicinity of the pulpit.

    The challenge we have is that the prophet must give us the additional light and knowledge on this point. Joseph tried to give us as much as could be borne, but we killed him anyway. Few, since Joseph, have given us revelation that shocked our souls.

    I have always felt very informed of Mother in Heaven, her concerns, her being, and her nature. So I’ve been nonplussed to learn of the many women who think Mother in Heaven is a cipher.

    We often refer to God’s mission statement (to use a jarringly modern corporate term): “This is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

    I would suggest that Mother in Heaven’s mission statement might read: “This is my work and my glory, to give spiritual birth to the intelligences who seek to become like God.”

    That part of the Gods mission is boring to us, because we already attained spiritual life, had our tussle in heaven over the definition of immortality and eternal life (“Obey Father? We should have to stinking obey Father:” Thus was Lucifer’s challenge ultimately focused on the righteousness of patriarchy). And now we’re here in mortality. So the only part of the Gods’ mission that we care about is the part that is in our personal futures: immortality and eternal life.

    But ultimately eternal life is about bringing forth other beings into spiritual life. Only those who have curbed themselves to the will of God the Father (and implicitly, therefore, the will of God the Mother) will be permitted to enter into Their glory, which is the glory where our future brothers and sisters are born into spiritual life.

    Some perceive that this condemns women to a silent eternity where they do nothing but gestate and bodily bear spirit children. And therefore they reject such a role, since it seems to them to be the worst side of oppressive chauvenism (aka, “patriarchy”). However, for my part, if the necessary labor for bringing forth the souls of my spirit peers is whatever it might be (licking tarballs from the hoary gates between the realm of intelligence and the realm of spiritual life, to pick a patently unlikely example), then I am willing to perform that labor for the glory of giving to others the joy I myself have found in the lives (spiritual, mortal, and eternal) the Gods (Father, Mother, Son, and Holy Ghost) have given and will give to me.

    Someone I love has stated they would be happy to be given a small hut in heaven, a mere place to lay down their head, if that is what God deems sufficient to the glorious tasks He will assign His righteous followers in that realm. Likewise, count me willing to do whatever God (the Gods, Mother, Father, and Son) might find me fit to do in that world after this one.

  48. Excellent article, Lucinda. Living up to the meaning of your name (light, illumination), I see. My wife’s name is a spanish analog; Lucia.

    I recently read the following article: Rectifying the Names: Reflections on ‘Womanhood and Language’ by [Ralph] Hancock
    by Valerie M. Hudson in SquareTwo, Vol. 7 No. 3 (Fall 2014)

    She discusses the value of making an effort to reclaim words which have been co-opted to include new/altered/corrupted meanings; words such as ‘freedom’, ‘fairness’, and ‘equality’. She asserts that in their correct meanings, these are concepts that the church/gospel actually protect and further. For clarity and to maintain a distinction between the newer, changed meanings, she consistently pairs the words with the phrase ‘in argumentato pietatis’. She does this to explicitly call out the different meanings of those words as used ‘in the context of righteousness’, and as used in a secular, worldly context. She further asserts that it is worth our effort to struggle to take back those words, not give up and concede them to the world. (I agree with her). Wonderful article, really. In another article, I am a Mormon Because I am a Feminist, Valerie practices this same concept when she uses the word ‘feminism’ which clearly carries anti-gospel meanings, but she uses the word essentially ‘in argumentato pietatis’. She does this boldly, rather than concede the word over to corrupted meanings.

    Perhaps a slightly less cumbersome pairing/clarifying phrase might be ‘true’ or ‘righteous’. On the other hand, perhaps we could also pair the words when used in the altered (corrupted) meanings with the word ‘false’ or ‘corrupted’ or ‘counterfeit’.

    Here’s a wonderful example of Valerie Hudson’s notion of ‘rectifying the names’ from president Kimball:
    ‘We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel—ships, planes, missiles, fortifications—and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become anti-enemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching:
    “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
    “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:44–45.)

    He distinguishes here between ‘true patriotism’ (‘patriotism in argumentato pietatis’) and ‘counterfeit patriotism’. True patriotism is being a child to our Father in heaven; we are patriotic to Him. Counterfeit patriotism is being warlike and anti-enemy instead of pro-kingdom of God.

    Lucinda, I see you in this article attempting to ‘rectify the name’ of ‘patriarchy’; to distinguish ‘true/righteous patriarchy’ or ‘patriarchy in argumentato pietatis’ from ‘false/counterfeit patriarchy’. I believe you did a wonderful job, despite leaving many readers uncomfortable. Note that you defend ‘true patriarchy’, and Pres. Kimball defended ‘true patriotism’; those two words sharing the same root word – father. You are in good company. And just as many have told me his view is naive, and just not tenable; we *must* train our men in the art of ward; so too will you be told that your view is untenable.

    I believe that the reason some of the commentators are in varying degrees struggling with acceptance of ‘patriarchy’ as good is that they are fighting against meanings of patriarchy that you clearly would exclude from your meaning.

    You shouldn’t have to go back and revise the article and search/replace every instance of ‘patriarchy’ with ‘true patriarchy’ or ‘righteous patriarchy’ or ‘patriarchy in argumentato pietatis’ in order to be properly understood by readers. However, from many of the comments it seems that without doing this, many commentors insist on feeling the need to rebut any good use of patriarchy, because they are hung up on ‘bad patriarchy’.

    Thus ‘rebuttals’ to your article using D&C 121 are unnecessary as I’m sure you completely agree with D&C 121, and what you envision as true patriarchy would align perfectly with righteous dominion. But they are also fighting against straw men; they are rebutting something you aren’t actually advocating. You are defending true patriarchy, which is centered on involved fatherhood and the social good that flows from it. In reply, they rebut counterfeit patriarchy, which is centered unrighteous dominion, and the social ill that flows from it. I can imagine that this is frustrating to you, but you respond with the same calm and logic with which you wrote your article.

    Thank you!

  49. I guess I should have refreshed my browser from yesterday when I read the article and started to read the comments before calling it a day. Had I done so, I would have seen that today you (Lucinda and Meg) both use the term ‘true patriarchy’, and distinguish it from counterfeit patriarchy – i.e. male chauvenism. This aligns even more explicitly with my comments, which I made without reading today’s comments.

  50. I’m sorry, but it really doesn’t matter how much explanation and fluff you try to put around it, the basic premise of the article is deeply flawed.

    This article refers to rape as a “reproductive opportunity”:

    “there are always men who reject the offer of a meaningful connection with their children, obtaining reproductive opportunities by deception, and sometimes force, fully intending to avoid any responsibilities as fathers.”

    Let’s start by setting things straight about rape. Rape is NOT about “obtaining reproductive opportunities”. Rape is about control. It is one of the many manifestations of Satan’s desire to infringe on a person’s free agency. It is an extreme exercise of unrighteous dominion.

    “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.” (D&C 121:39)

    The true paradox in this article is the idea that we can take social power away from “degenerate patriarchies” by making sure that men feel more secure in their “little authority, as they suppose”. Unfortunately, “sad experience” has taught us what men will do when we teach them that they inherited authority over women when they got their Y-Chromosome.

    The article tries to define a “righteous patriarchy” in terms of male “dominance”:

    * “A mature, dominant man…can confidently invest some of his effort…into directly ensuring the survival and prosperity of children he knows are his.”

    * “Most men would prefer to have the focused attention of a fertile woman, but in a state of nature, only a man who has achieved dominance can easily access this strategy.”

    * “Once patriarchy makes sexual misbehavior very costly…more young men will be able to forgo the odds-playing strategy in exchange for the preferred strategy of dominant men”

    * “A woman experiences a biologically driven instinct to go along with the dominant authorities of her social group.”

    “We’ve learned by sad experience” that encouraging male dominance in the home isn’t doesn’t encourage them to be happy, humble fathers. Am I really supposed to teach my (apparently incompetent) wife what her proper gender role is:

    “Fathers have the responsibility to identify and repudiate dominant ideological and cultural authorities, such as feminism, which direct women away from achieving goals of motherhood and undermine effective control over disruptive aspects of male instinct.”

    This is just wrong. The whole underlying premise of the article is just wrong, and yes, it has everything to do with understanding the concepts in D&C 121:34-46. God does not recognize a man’s authority to dominate his family. It doesn’t matter how many comparisons or metaphors or definitions of ideologies get put forward as arguments for male dominance. None of it changes the fact that our Heavenly Father does not choose to dominate his family.

    God gave us free agency, he sent his son to set a perfect example for us, and he provided an infinite atoning sacrifice because he loves us. Christ’s invitation to “come, follow me” has nothing to do with his ability to “dominate”.

    President Benson taught us that “The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us. Pride is essentially competitive in nature.” (April, 1989 General Conference)

    “Dominance” is also essentially comparative in nature. You can’t have dominance without dominating over someone. How is male dominance possibly compatible with what President Benson taught us about pride? Promoting pride is NOT the way to promote good fatherhood.

    This article would have me believe that:

    “A young man’s inability to materially provide…[leads] to his instinctive desire to use deception, and sometimes force”

    That one was a painfully bad statement. BEING POOR DOES NOT LEAD TO RAPE!

    This article would have me believe that “almost all women” will be bad mothers unless “dominant social authorities” restrict their access to greater independence:

    “When women can access greater independence, material gain, and other goals and still be celebrated by dominant social authorities for their contributions ‘as women’, almost all women will restrict their investments in motherhood despite their maternal instincts.”

    I honestly don’t know how I’m supposed to respond to this stuff. Perhaps you can help me. I’m not a dominant husband or father. What should I do to put my wife and kids in their proper place tonight?

    I’ll consider it a badge of honor to not be counted among the ranks of dominant men who taught us by sad experience that delusions of grandeur lead towards unrighteous dominion.

  51. Some time ago I was introduced to the idea that the Temple is a model of how society should function. This is relevant to this discussion because the Temple is run on patriarchal principals. The president is male, as are his counselors but each of them is a married man and their wives are called the temple matrons. They have parallel responsibilities to their husbands, mostly concerned with sister ordinance workers and females attending the temple. Temples vary in procedures in practical matters as dictated by size, volume of attendance, availability of volunteers of either sex and so forth. In the Provo Temple a high volume of attendance calls for a large number of workers and highly organized procedures with fairly strict assignment of responsibilities. By contrast, the Manhattan Temple seems far more casual, however both run by the general principal that male and female workers are equally important, but male roles are more extrinsic, or noticeable while female roles are more intrinsic.
    Perhaps our maternal Heavenly Parent is similarly involved in helping us in our earthly experience, and although vital, her role is not as evident.
    But there may be another explanation for the policy of preventing prayers to her. I think of Joseph Smith’s experience when he was operated on as a child. He requested that his father hold him as he suffered the ordeal and asked that his mother go far enough away that she could not hear his cries. I believe he thus acknowledged the special qualities of motherhood and fatherhood. His mother’s tender heart would be wrenched almost unbearably by witnessing his pain first hand. His father would be stressed, but he had the strength to hold his child as the doctors scraped the infection from his bone.
    That operation may be a type of our mortal existence. Perhaps our Heavenly Father and our older Brother are shielding Mother from the exquisite agony of our mortal lives.
    Because they are perfect patriarchs she can trust us to their care for this moment in eternity.

  52. Civilization is built upon a foundation of specialization. Functional specialization relies on the ability of individuals to assess the quality of the goods and services they choose. Everyone probably has some understanding of whose baked goods they prefer. On the other hand, relatively fewer people will know from experience who makes the best carpet-laying tools.

    The problem in our current system is that we select our leaders based on who sounds good, looks good, and has presence and quickness of tongue. This is not the best way. We need to have access to some way of assessing leaders based on output that cannot be manipulated through deception and back-room deals.

    Everyone has access to personal understanding about the goodness or badness of a father’s involvement in their own life. It’s not an obscured specialty. And more than the baker, fatherly output has to do with social goods, and an inherent investment in the future of his society.

  53. To Beau’s point, it is not that being poor results in any specific man becoming a rapist. However when we observe large populations that are subject to various social influences, we find that men who feel unable to legitimately compete for female favors will increasingly participate in rape. This is particularly true in Asia currently, based on the written arguments I got last year when I opined that polygamy creates an artificial scarcity of women, a scarcity that I have read improved the lot of women in historic instances of Western Civilization. Alas, I can’t find my quote and the current violence towards women in Asia is undeniable.

    As for rape being about control, that’s certainly an aspect of rape. However if all it is is control, there’s no need to make it sexual. Just beat the person up. Or drug the young woman and do some weird thing that doesn’t involve sex. The fact that rape involves sex is a nod to at least a vestigial reproductive urge, even if thoroughly buried under all sorts of other depravity.

    Beau, I am glad that you are not an abusive and overbearing individual. That does not mean there is not a statistical finding for the billions if individuals who share your demographic description.

  54. A system of laws or leadership which conflicts with the morals of the main body of actual fathers will lose the direct support it needs to function. The system needs fathers to teach the laws of the system and it’s proper behavior to their children to maintain the social consensus necessary to pass on its morals. Patriarchy ensures that the system gains the support of fathers by engaging actual fathers in the process of working out the details of the system. It needs to maintain the interest of most men, or it will not longer be possible to use collective force to enforce laws.

    Patriarchy actually makes it harder for dominant men to gain unusual advantage in the system. Giving more men the benefits that, in nature, are only enjoyed by dominant males does not mean that those men must therefore take on various attributes of dominant males, (though it remains an instinctive drive.)

  55. Lucinda said: “Giving more men the benefits that, in nature, are only enjoyed by dominant males does not mean that those men must therefore take on various attributes of dominant males”

    You are correct, it doesn’t mean that they must, but we have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

    Meg: I think I need to avoid the “R” word so my comments don’t get flagged for moderation. Promoting the “reproductive opportunity” found in “R” to be the primary point of discussion in relation to male dominance ignores obvious facts and whitewashes the cruelty of the act and the well-recognized motivations behind it.

    Men force themselves on infants, young girls and boys, each other, and the elderly in addition to “reproductive opportunities”. Just because the act involves the same equipment as a “reproductive opportunity” does not mean that it is a reproductive act.

    “R” is about dominance. Control isn’t “an aspect of R”, it’s what R is all about, and it is not something that is lessened or cured in dominant men. Teaching men that dominance is an essential part of marriage and fatherhood is a terrible, dangerous thing.

    Dominance is an ugly expression of pride and puts people in a state of opposition to each other. It is not the cure for “R”. It leads to “R”, because “it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”

    “the natural man is an enemy to God” (Mosiah 3:19)

  56. Beau,

    First, I understand your desire to reject all things that smack of Darwinism. Ignore those things long enough to see what good things there are here.

    Second, you seem to hold enmity for maleness and masculinity. Just my perception of your comments. Perhaps this is because of the abuses of our fellow “men”. I share your disgust. But,

    Your reading of D&C 121 leads you to believe that dominion = unrighteous dominion. Such a reading cannot square with D&C 121 and certainly not verse 46: “The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.” There are many scriptural references about dominion in the righteous sense.

    There is such a thing as righteous dominion. Our Father exercises dominion. We must emulate our Father, and therefore we must learn to exercise dominion righteously.

    Yes, Lucinda kept her topic secular, and I believe that there are temporal factors of biology which cannot be ignored, but more importantly, was this concept she put forward of women submitting to the righteous dominion of a man. Look to the temple and stop being embarrassed by Eve’s submission. It is a beautiful thing, and it is doctrine. Rather we should be humbled the more that these lovely ladies are so willing to lift us up by their submission–of course only as we obey the commandments in establishing dominion over our (shared) domain. In short, what I hear is that righteous women want us to lead out, set up a perimeter, keep the hedge strong, be decisive, bring home the bacon, and treat them as coequals in decision making, i.e., create a temple atmosphere at home, by presiding in righteousness. According to Lucinda this is the ultimate expression of femininity. And the further the world diverges from this pattern the more males and females will devolve as it were to their biological impulses. Again, I say bravo.

    And yes, likewise, we, husband and wife, father and mother together would train our sons and daughters in this noble expression of gender.

  57. Hi Joel,

    I missed the part in the article that talked about men and women being “coequals in decision making” Please help me to see where that was covered in the article. You missed the part where I explained D&C 121:46, so please review my first comment to this post.

    What you and others fail to see is that the dominion that is spoken of in the scriptures does not mean that we dominate our wives, our children or our fellow men. The concept of dominating our spouses and children is clearly taught in this article without any reference to being coequals.

    A little less obvious to some is the lesson we can learn from both Adam’s and Eve’s example. Adam refused to obey Satan when Satan told him to eat the fruit, but he obeyed Eve when she did. In the scriptural accounts, what follows is a description of events where it describes that Adam shall “rule over” Eve. Since we do not discuss teaching from the temple when we’re outside of its walls, I will only point out that “rule over” is not taught there. Eve is not asked to submit to Adam in any way that Adam had not already demonstrated that he would submit to Eve.

    Of course, the natural man bristles at lessons about equality. We think we have so much more control when we get to “rule over” our spouse. Like I said before, we like to look for loopholes in the idea that “no power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood” (D&C 121:41).

    There certainly is such thing as a “dominion” spoken of in the scriptures, but you missed the part about it being established “without compulsory means” (D&C 121:46).

    Why is this lesson missed by so many men in the church? …well, D&C 121 answers that as well:

    “Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.” (D&C 121:35-36)

    Dominance over our spouse is not a “principle of righteousness”. It is not exemplified by Christ. It is a desire of “the natural man” who is an enemy to God. It is one of “the things of this world”. It is one of “the honors of men” that promotes unrighteous dominion and keeps us from understanding what God means when he speaks of an “everlasting dominion” that is established by example (D&C 121:41-44) and “without compulsory means” (D&C 121:46).

  58. I disagree, I disagree, I disagree. I have neither the time or inclination to write the essay it would require to detail all of the reasons I disagree, but let the record show that I do. There may be the phrase here or the assertion here I find less faulty or partially in certain lights true, but this entire work seems so predicated on personal (unsupported) assumptions that frankly fly in the face of much rigorous research and psychology I simply don’t know where to begin. Suffice it to say, women throughout history have survived or even thrived in matriarchal, patriarchal and combined systems due to complex historical, social and religious influences. The stereotypes this article promotes regarding male and female incentives and thought processes are so biased and stereotyped I can not believe they would find a credible publication willing to print them (the illustrious Millennial Star notwithstanding). Women are not, for example, biologically primed to accept the authority of a dominant social figure any more than a man is, and I would like to see the (scant, I’m sure) studies Ms. Hancock used in making her audacious assertions.

  59. So where does this leave women who are infertile or who do not marry? Or widows who are beyond child bearing age? Apparently women’s only power is linked to their reproductive status and sexual availability. What about men who are infertile?

    What about polygamy? Each additional wife taken guarantees that the prior wife (wives) and children get less of the husband’s time and fewer resources. Many of the 19th century plural wives basically functioned as single mothers. I doubt they felt more secure with patriarchy.

  60. Nichole,
    I can understand that you disagree but your assertion that the ideas do not deserve exposure is an indication that you are prone to many of the faults you choose to find. While you state that you can’t spare the time to mount a full rebuttal you raise the shadow threat of ‘rigorous research and psychology.”
    As for anon’s questions, women of all conditions benefit when men are willing to cooperate in providing support to families and ultimately society. Patriarchy is not necessarily linked to polygamy but men who abandon families and responsibilities to run of with a new sweetie are a serious problem that results from lack of patriarchal responsibility.

  61. Meg writes: “Yet I don’t know that you represent a majority or even a significant minority when you balk at considering patriarchy an ideology. This seems to be a sophist argument, splitting hairs to gain argumentative advantage. Feel free to explain why ideologies are specifically bad and useless.”

    It is the task of the reader to separate truth from error, and it matters not if he or she be alone in doing it. Ideologies run the gamut. They can be “bad and useless” but they can also be dangerously useful (i.e. communism, socialism, fascism, feminism, environmentalism or any number of “-isms”). The flip-side of feminism is not patriarchy, but another extreme: patriarchism. I remain unconvinced that this is necessarily a good thing.

    Of course the author is right to argue that righteous patriarchy benefits men and women and that submission to righteous authority (particularly God) is a good thing. But I’m glad that others have been willing to ask questions and push back against the weaker aspects of her argument, including the assertions tinged with Darwinism. Questions and push-back can help the author to refine her argument in order to reach a broader audience and to persuade more people to subscribe to her particular brand of “patriarchy.”

  62. A Belief in the God of the Old and New Testament and a belief in God’s love for women has led to my belief that love and care for women is an important aspect of patriarchy. The God of the Old and New Testament is a Patriarchal God. Before I questioned the dominant view of patriarchy as oppressive of women, I frankly was a little put off by a lot of the stories in the scriptures, particularly the focus on the virginity of Mary. Reverence for God prevents me from talking too much about those feelings, but it came down to the idea that I couldn’t understand how God could love women and focus on Mary’s virginity (along with other scriptural accounts.)

    Understanding patriarchy has put my heart to rest. I don’t feel like I have to choose between my belief that God loves women, and my belief in the God of the scriptures anymore. It’s a wonderful, peaceful resolution.

  63. Too bad we can’t do mind-melds. I think most the objections aired here would be erased by a better understanding of what Lucinda Hancock is actually meaning to say. It’s possible a few of the “I completely agree!” comments might become more moderated praise, but then again, maybe not.

    To Joseph M, I enjoyed reading the articles you linked to. I think your point was:

    1) a majority (60%) of fathers who have engendered children out of wedlock or “abandoned” the mother of their child (I’m supposing that’s what “single father” refers to) treasure their children and visit their child(ren) daily.

    This is a good point. However I don’t think we can therefore say that this is an optimal situation. The other point I think the article makes is that college-educated women (despite what one sees in the media) are 97% likely to bear their children in the context of a marriage. Thus it is the smart women who have been able to take advantage of education who make sure they produce children in a marriage (even if that marriage then disintegrates later on). These are the Anne Boleyns of the world, willing to force the man they desire to make a covenant before allowing that man access to their reproductive favors.

    Women who are not able to attain college education make the choice to bear children, even if they can’t get a man to covenant with them. The father may well continue to be involved in the life of the mother and child, without strings. These women have made the decision that having a child despite imperfect conditions is better than a life without children.

    I would turn Lucinda’s argument around to state that women who wish to bear a child shouldn’t have to choose between having a child out of wedlock or remaining childless. It is somewhat like the prostitution discussion. Men I’ve encountered tend to presume that polygamy reduced prostitution because men weren’t as interested in getting hinky sex if they were getting a lot at home (from a diverse set of “providers.”) They overlooked the factor that women in a society with means to provide for all women, despite demographic and economic challenges, can absorb all women who would otherwise be forced to sell their bodies to provide for themselves and any children they might need to support, e.g., Victor Hugo’s finctional character, Fantine.

    As for the second article, I never thought “Be a Man” meant to embrace violence and suppress emotion. But then again, my brothers sewed clothes for their dolls and embraced parts in drama productions that called for wearing skirts or prancing around in tutus. They also like to shoot guns (hunting, legitimate military duties), compete in athletic events, and honor God and family. In my extended family, being a man means tender watch-care of disabled family members, helping change the diaper of the various infants, and being obedient to father and mother.

  64. Biochemically men are prepared to stand and fight and women to hide or run ie. ‘fight or flight’ which proves very useful if a family is under threat. Women are geared to lead the children to safety while the danger is diverted or destroyed. Even in modern life these impulses often prove useful. But we are also given the ability to think things through. Sometimes it is best for both parents to grab the kids and run. But either way, it is nice when there are a pair of parents to deal with threats or problems.

  65. Beau,

    I try to abide by a rule out here: I am not interested in proving myself right, so if I can’t be helpful, I desist from further commentary. So, one last try at being helpful.

    There is much of the way the OP was written that I disagree with. What else is new? Most of what you have written I agree with, but I disagree with your perceptions about the application of the scripture you repeat over and over as if I haven’t read them (and understood them) as much or more than you have.

    Perhaps it would help if you understood my background. My father was injured in Viet Nam when I was five. Mom and Dad moved to Utah, both worked nights and went to college with eight and then nine kids. Both got master’s degrees. Eventually Mom taught special education at my high school. Dad continued on as circulation manager for Salt Lake newspaper in Cache Valley. Mother kept a 4.0 through her masters program. Dad accepted his inferior intelligence without complaint. Mother wanted to be inactive for just one day every year on Mother’s Day, and said so.

    I was bread winner for the first thirteen years of our marriage. After 9/11 I lost my job with everyone else in the consulting department. Two years later I realized I had lost my career. Fortunately, during those years, we had persisted in putting my wife through to get her degree in nursing and she went to work full-time as a registered nurse as a school nurse. After four years of underemployment my wife suggested I get a law degree. I ran down, took the LSAT, and entered a local law school. We put her back in school to become a nurse practitioner. She is still the main breadwinner, as starting a law practice at 46 was and still is 6 years later, difficult.

    I get the need to break down un-useful, and destructive male/female differentiation in today’s world. I have had to face them myself.

    The nugget I took away from an imperfect post was this. Imagine our father and mother in heaven discussing how to teach and talk to their children whom they have sent to earth. Imagine that it is She who pushes Him to the front, not only content to be the silent partner but fully cognizant that this is the most effective if not only way to train sons and daughters to be Kings and Queens of their own dominions. Imagine now that one of those daughters here on earth comes to understand that her husband cannot assume or maintain a position of authority by “compulsory means” if it is she who “compels” her husband to preside and provide by claiming her doctrinal rights: “Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance,” D&C 83:2 And she, wisely, with a knowing wink, and a supreme act of willing submission, does submit–the effect being that her husband will both desire and be empowered to shake off the natural man and do as he has been commanded to do, preside in righteousness. In this age of misguided feminism and male abdication this was a gutsy post, warts and all.

    And thanks Anne Prufe. That was a great link.

  66. One of the topics the essay fails to adequately address is a closer look at the male population. It would have added a lot of words, while being that much more challenging to readers.

    There are two different axes on which men need to be judged. The one would line up with a material dominance rating. On this axis on can measure a man’s ability to use his intelligence and physical capabilities to bring about his desired results. On the other axis would be a rating of a man’s desires, whether they are what is often called good or bad.

    II. Low dominance | I. high dominance
    good desires | good desires
    III.low dominance | IV. high dominance
    bad desires | bad desires
    (I hope that graphic works out. I’m using mathematic numbering convention because that is my training.)
    Dominance is fairly constricted by age, intelligence, physique, etc. Modern life has lessened the effective disparity of some of the attributes, but nowhere close to what many imagine. I’m not going to hash out numbers here, only say that high dominance men are relatively few in number, but they have great ability to exert their desire across society. (I will also observe that responding to parental obligations despite inadequate preparations for it is a good desire.)

    Women’s reproductive concerns are of special difficulty because youth correlates with low dominance (and women are by nature less physically strong across adulthood.) A women’s best years of fertility occur before she has time to reach intellectual dominance, and completely stops shortly thereafter (for consensus, I’m using the minimum legal age for US president.) Modern life has ways of lessening the disparity between male and female physical strength (weapons, martial arts, etc.) but women are often reluctant to use these tools (much to Annie Oakley’s chagrin.) And beside that, there are still insurmountable limits to creating equality of physical dominance.

    There are important ways of schooling desires, but they have typically been done through religious instruction, and I would assert that this is the most reliable way. Even still, you have to be able to assess whether a religion instructs toward good desires, or toward bad. I would say correctness of religion is a matter of how much you feel that doctrine aligns with desires that are truly good.

    There is also the problem that has been discussed here that high dominance tends to corrupt desires. (“Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”) But this only points to the need for men to recognize a higher power than themselves.

  67. Feminine mystique versus four quadrant math. Love it.

    Tangentially related, I am aware of at least a few women who have turned to lesbianism in reaction to negative experiences with being “dominated” by men, using the physical abuse/control definition of domination.

    So given society’s abnegation of enforcing good patriarchy and curbing abusive domination by men, my observation is that women have increasingly turned to lesbianism and single motherhood to satisfy their emotional and reproductive needs in the face of unavailable/undesirable male counterparts.

    The freedom women enjoy in our day, with birth control supposedly eliminating the need to worry about unwanted childbirth, has come at a cost. Women are more likely to be assaulted, because it is presumed that they are on the pill. Women who engage in sex (consensual or otherwise) are more likely to end up infected with diseases transmitted venereally (such as HIV/AIDS) because the pill changes the nature of the vaginal/uterine wall lining, making it more fragile.

    A world in which men value the purity of women can feel oppressive for women, such as myself, who were no longer virgins when they married their current husband. And yet, I am not happy with a world where women are presumed to be sluts and where men who remain virgins before marriage and faithful after marriage are considered weird.

  68. I read ‘Fascinating Womanhood’ years ago. As I recall the author advised women to cozen their husbands into supporting them and being faithful with the use of feminine wiles. In almost every way Lucinda breaks the stereotype of a woman setting out to be seductive. Blessed with biracial features that include dark eyes, brows, and hair that contrast with cream toned skin, she never uses makeup. She put herself through college laying carpet which means she has more skills with tools than most men. If she needs a set of shelves she gets out her saw and power drill and uses planks left over from the fence she built. She enjoys mathematics.
    She hasn’t worn high heels since performing in Jazz Choir in high school.
    In other words, she is far removed from the image of a dainty painted doll portrayed as the ideal in such books as ‘Fascinating Woman’. However she is very womanly.

  69. I would like to clarify my comment from Sunday. Certain paternity (as in ‘a son is begotten by a father’) is central to patriarchal order. Mary’s witness to Christ’s identity is important.
    But male instinct preferring virginity is destructive. True patriarchy effectively channels this instinct away from it’s destructive aspects.

  70. Thinking more about patriarchal departures : As seen with the example of ‘sowing wild oats’ in the essay, the fundamental way patriarchies weaken is through adopting some mechanism of nurturing men toward manhood and fear of letting them be put at risk. Mothers often believe they can ‘nurture’ boys into being good and trustworthy men. Young women are in danger of trying to nurture immature men into real men by having a baby for them. They often hope that the birth of their children will encourage these young men to rise to the challenge and take on the duties of engaged fatherhood. Unhappily, the chance at fatherhood often fails to motivate a man to grow up, and the eventual abandonment, whether actual or psychological, is personally hurtful to both the woman and her children. Self-justifying men add insult to injury by blaming women for not doing enough to keep them happy. (‘Fascinating Womanhood’ would exemplify this idea.) Real men should be offended by the idea that a woman’s failure to live up to some impossible ideal of femininity gives them any excuse for bad behavior.

    Good fathers, on the other hand, are more likely to understand the need for boys to prove themselves before being considered real men. Patriarchal order encounters the challenge of helping sons to become men by setting up structures that allow fathers to teach their sons away from the influence of their mothers (such as hunting and other manly arts.) Nurturing and maternal involvement is counter-productive in the endeavor of encouraging manhood.

    But, as pointed out in the essay, prosperity, enabled by robust patriarchy, can make fathers lazy, submitting to the idea of nurturing sons to manhood out of expediency.

  71. Hi Joel,

    You seem to think that I’m in this for my ego and just want to win an argument.

    This is a site promoting LDS ideals. When others want to learn about our religion and read articles like this, along with all the comments talking about how great it would be if men would just “dominate” their families correctly, it strongly reinforces false stereotypes about Christ’s restored gospel.

    I keep hammering home the same thing in my replies because it’s the 800-pound Gorilla in the room. The fundamental basis and message of this article is incorrect and harmful and is in direct opposition to scriptural teachings and to what our prophet and apostles are currently teaching us.

    I’m just hoping that if someone is interested in learning about our religion and reads this article and its comments that they’ll see that not all of us think that we believe in increased submission by wives to increased domination by their husbands as if it’s some gospel principle.

    I admit it. I’m in the habit of repeating myself when people ignore the 800-pound gorilla in the room by using fluffy, flowery comments as they dance around the periphery of the subject in a desperate attempt to make the unreasonable sound reasonable.

    So, in this spirit of repetition, I’ll simply copy/paste one of my previous arguments that nobody has cared to respond to:

    President Benson taught us that “The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us. Pride is essentially competitive in nature.” (April, 1989 General Conference)

    “Dominance” is also essentially comparative in nature. You can’t have dominance without dominating over someone. How is male dominance possibly compatible with what President Benson taught us about pride?

    There, I’ve got my traditional repetition out of the way. Maybe someone will take time to answer that question this time around.

    Honestly, how can our modern prophet and apostles be more clear about this subject:

    Following are a few of many things from that article from the April, 2013 Ensign that are relevant to this conversation.

    First, I’ll quote the article from a social science perspective:

    Social science research supports the prophetic instruction that couples who have an equal partnership have happier relationships, more effective parenting practices, and better-functioning children. Scholars have consistently found that equal partners are more satisfied and have better overall marital quality than couples where one spouse dominates. Equal-partner relationships have less negative interaction and more positive interaction. Moreover, there is evidence that equal partners are more satisfied with the quality of the physical intimacy in their relationship.

    Also, a quote from it from an Adam/Eve perspective:

    “Genesis 3:16 states that Adam is to ‘rule over’ Eve, but this doesn’t make Adam a dictator. … Over in ‘rule over’ uses the Hebrew bet, which means ruling ‘with,’ not ruling ‘over.’ … The concept of interdependent, equal partners is well-grounded in the doctrine of the restored gospel. Eve was Adam’s ‘help meet’ (Genesis 2:18). The original Hebrew for meet means that Eve was adequate for, or equal to, Adam. She wasn’t his servant or his subordinate.”

    Next will be a quote from it from the perspective of a modern apostle, but I should note that while it uses the term “roles” and sounds like it might be assigning “roles”, the context of Elder Ballard’s original talk makes it clear that he saying the opposite. He is telling us to look past notions of “roles” to see equality:

    Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has taught: “Men and women, though spiritually equal, are entrusted with different but equally significant roles. … Men are given stewardship over the sacred ordinances of the priesthood. To women, God gives stewardship over bestowing and nurturing mortal life, including providing physical bodies for God’s spirit children and guiding those children toward a knowledge of gospel truths. These stewardships, equally sacred and important, do not involve any false ideas about domination or subordination.”

    If you want, I’ll be happy to go back and repeat myself again from a scriptural (D&C 121) perspective again 😉

    Maybe I need to reduce this to something closer to a Sesame Street perspective:

    Equality is good.

    Dominance over other people is bad.

    It really is that simple. Please stop promoting harmful, dangerous, false doctrine and telling people that it’s what our religion and prophet teach us.

  72. Darn…I added a link to so it got flagged for moderation. That’s kinda funny when you think about it.

    Anyways, please moderate. Thanks.

  73. There are some who quote scripture to further the idea that patriarchy is inherently oppressive of women. But in so doing, they fail to account for the actual experience of women caught in the belief that patriarchy is synonymous with oppression of women. Such a woman has a hard time reading the scriptures at all without being repelled by the ubiquitous patriarchal messages in them. If we are going to allow women to feel comfortable with the scriptures as they are (and respect the authority of quotations from them), we have to reclaim a righteous understanding of patriarchy.

  74. “Patriarchal order encounters the challenge of helping sons to become men by setting up structures that allow fathers to teach their sons away from the influence of their mothers (such as hunting and other manly arts.) Nurturing and maternal involvement is counter-productive in the endeavor of encouraging manhood.”

    Then what the hell have I been doing wasting my time as a stay-at-home mom nurturing my son all those years, as instructed by the prophets?

  75. Hi Anon,

    I’m sure you don’t think you were actually wasting your time. It’s just that at a certain point they need to stop being mama’s boys and own their manhood.

    Girls need to stop being mama’s girls and own their womanhood too. They just tend to go about differentiating in a slightly different way that doesn’t include camping in sub-zero temperatures. When I was a girl, differentiating from my very wise and good mother involved a lot of being a pill, as I recall. Kicking against the pricks, etc.

  76. “Real men protect the vulnerable, not assault them. Growing up having learned that most basic tenet of manhood is the job of fathers, not the police.”

    This job of fathers is best accomplished through **modeling** (the teaching method of a righteous father), not through punitive discipline (the method of police). And this job of modeling appropriate male behavior is *best* accomplished by fathers (modeling), not mothers (nurtering). This is because mothers do not model appropriate male behavior (protection of the vulnerable). They model appropriate female behavior (nurture).

    ***Of course, there are exceptions to the ideal!*** It is not a “waste of time” for a mother to nurture their sons. Nor is it a waste of time for a father to provide a healhty father/daughter relationship, especially the feeling of someone who would protect her at all costs. Those cross gender relationships are important, but they are not a drect model of appropriate gender behavior. Of course, because the burdens of these roles are shared burdens, mothers can teach protection (but less effectively than fathers), and fathers can teach nurture (but less effectively than mothers).

    And yes, I’m saying appropriate behavior is *different* for different genders… because of the differences between males and females.

    This certainly sounds anathema to those who confuse equality with sameness.
    Sameness is the counterfeit of genuine equality. When people (feminists) ‘get their panties in a bunch’ over statements about differences between the genders, then you know they have bought into counterfeit of feminism, not true feminism.

    The first step in coming to accept the value of genuine patriarchy (not counterfeit patriarchy aka chauvenism), is to acknowledge and accept gender differences. When you accept that true equality does not entail sameness, then you don’t get so upset about statements such as “appropriate male behavior is best modelled by righteous, involved fathers”. But, if you find yourself enraged when someone suggests that ‘appropriate male behavior’ is different than ‘appropriate female behavior’, then you’ve been duped into subtle counterfeits of truth.

    Can a single mother hold out hope of raising righteous sons? Sure! And I bet it would be a lot easier if that boy has good father models in a righteous scoutmaster or coach or priesthood leader. Can a single father hold out hope of raising righteous daughters? Sure! And I bet he would be very grateful for a female role model for those daughters, (if nothing else to give her ‘the talk’ about female issues that sorry, no man can *really* understand.)

    However, just because these exceptions *can* turn out OK doesn’t mean that the situation is the ideal. And when the exception becomes the rule (through ultra-high rates of fatherlessness), you get the same problem as with the elephants in the article linked to above.

  77. In a conversation I had the topic of male exceptional status arose, the idea that men need to have a way of contributing that they feel women can’t do. Here are my thoughts: Male territorialism is a vital aspect of the male perspective. The problem is that dominant males in nature direct this instinct outward of women and children, but lower-status males (sometimes by virtue of their lower capability in bringing about desired results) often enough direct their territorialism against women and children, most likely out of realistic fear of more dominant males. (Low-status male horses physically bully their females to keep them from going to dominant male pasture.) Because patriarchy as a project shares dominance benefits with males who do not ‘deserve’ it, there is a problem in balancing the needs of the lower-status but good men with the needs of the women and children they are responsible for. I have no idea how one accomplishes this, but I do think that chauvinism is poison. “Bait and switch” is tricky. You can ‘bait and switch’, bringing young men into marital commitment while a woman is still young and sexually attractive, and then holding them to those commitments even when she has lost her sexual appeal (for some men this occurs as soon as a woman seems pregnant, aka ‘fat’, for others, when they realize how demanding family life is). Another manifestation of this is making immature men believe they will have binding authority over their wives, yet fully intending to channel that authority and ultimately bring it under the more dominant authority of God.

    A serious theological struggle for women, who often focus on the provident and protective power of God (as opposed to seeking to share in His dominion), is that God is willing to overlook male incompetence in relationships with women, both in failing to effectively protect and provide and in directing male territorialism against women and children. It is comparable to the conservative effort to expose the ways that redistribution actually hurts the most vulnerable. Does God himself care more about supposed ‘intent’ than He does about effectiveness? The answer I can see as a Christian is yes, He cares more about good desires, which He has the ability to ascertain, than He does about effectiveness. But part of having good desires is to be genuinely sorry when intent doesn’t match results, and seeking reparation despite abiding ineptitude. And God will provide and protect through child-like efforts at learning, as long as we stay within His territory.

  78. Speaking of ineffectiveness, here is why I think feminism is ultimately a fail. There are two basic signals of successful conception, weight-gain and emotional insecurity. Immature men are instinctively inclined to split when they pick up on these signals. This genetic inclination is reinforced by natural selection since a vulnerable woman is more likely to be able to gain protection from others if the man isn’t there for her.

    So in a society where immature and deceitful men are calling the shots in the negotiations between men and women, feminine weight-gain and emotional insecurity are effectively shunned by everyone. Feminism does do some good in its effort to help women feel more at peace with their physical body image, but their ascent to the idea that women should always be emotionally confident more than outweighs their contribution to being at peace with their physical bodies.

    Some of the most assertive, even aggressive, women I know have suffered terrible insecurity and anxiety during pregnancy, and feminism tells them that they should feel ashamed of that. That’s unjust.

  79. Feminists seem to forget that all men in the church are in subordinate patriarchal relationships and mostly at the very bottom of the hierarchy. Men don’t get endless harangues in general priesthood meeting about being nice and kind to their male subordinates. The real relationships range from Christlike servant leadership to plain old obnoxious boorish domination, yet everyone of us who sticks with the program tries to endure and carry on “receiving the Lord’s servants” as a token that we receive Him.

    My wife seems to prefer my form of patriarchy (more or less) as she can retreat to it to avoid every other dominating relationship that she prefers to ignore whether it’s a stake president, a RS President or some obnoxious youth leader demanding she make costumes for the stake play that is cast with kids from prosperous families who drive nicer cars (the kids) than we do. She does have the patriachy thing figured out. I am still working on it.

  80. When males aspire to manhood and take responsibility (a verb-object which is necessarily assertive/aggressive) then it is Patriarchy.

    The alternative is when males do not take responsibility.

    The decades-old efforts to degrade patriarchy have accumulated ever more evidence of the effects of males not taking responsibility.

  81. Why would there be a decades-old effort to degrade manhood via the patriarchy of males taking responsibility?

    Because someone is seeking their self-perceived advantage selling something else.

  82. Lucinda — there are a great many lucrative/famous careers (and even nations) founded on substantially less well-written good thinking than you have expressed above.

    Meg — please correct my prior posts to be one post of 5 short paragraphs, and make the 4th one go like this:

    “Why would there be a decades-old effort to degrade manhood (patriarchy, or males taking responsibility)?”



  83. Many believe that patriarchy is necessarily oppressive of women, notably men who have good desires and worry about equality for women. But this is predicated on the idea that women and men are fundamentally competing for the same space. Men have difficulty imagining just what women would do if not for modern encouragement of feminine involvement in the career world.

    Women have immeasurable value to a community in ways that simply don’t need male recognition. But women simply cannot count on men anymore to exert basic protections for women in their most important pursuits. For instance, it doesn’t even occur to most men that women need rebuttal of social authorities who denigrate mothers’ value as a presence in the home. As pointed out in the essay, men often assume that celebration of women in general is enough, when in fact, it is not.

    And women don’t often see how friendless they have become in the absence of patriarchy. Women learn about historical conditions for women, while projecting on them a modern inability to count on men and conclude that historical women are more to be pitied. I believe that modern women are more pitiable than previous generations, despite ‘unprecedented freedoms’, because they can’t even imagine what it would be like to not feel the need to be self-sufficient in every way.

    Men would likely be surprised by how unproblematic their relationships with women would become in an environment where women were consistently protected from liars, abusers and rapists. Young women left to themselves are not well-equipped to resist such men, and will simply withdraw from trust in men in general. And if relationships between men and women fall apart, so does society itself.

  84. Men tend to be ignorant of the importance of women’s reliance on socially dominant authorities to signal correct choices because men are less dependent on social constructs for personal success. Pluralism among men is valued as a means of exposing them to new ideas, potential innovation, and economic gain and men often disregard feminine concerns about assessing bearers of new and different ideas by their social dominance. Pluralism is less helpful to women, who value consensus over constructive disagreement. In many feminine pursuits, agreement produced by dominant authority produces efficiency better than contending over details.

    So providing a dominant social order that incorporates feminine concerns for assessing individual character and authoritative enforcement is necessary for engaging women in the patriarchal order. As much as men are frustrated with women for wanting men to act as fathers without biological incentive, women are frustrated with men for neglecting the duty of maintaining a cohesive society and for wanting women to resist their instincts toward following the rules of dominant social authorities instead of their husbands.

    In the end, it must be the men who take the lead. It must be the men who recognize women’s need and provide for a dominant social authority that celebrates motherhood and promotes fatherhood.

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