The pro-choice versus pro-life argument is only one manifestation of a bigger divide in worldviews. For some it may be as simple as dichotomy between Patriarchalism and Feminism, the latest iteration of the gender wars, or an oppressed versus oppressor narrative, but the truth of the matter is a bit more complicated in that the dividing line is not where the two competing ideological extremes put it.
Rather than Patriarchalism versus Feminism, there are actually three distinct hierarchies, two that are openly male-led (and are often lumped together) and one that is covertly male-led in that it both minimizes the most unique female strengths and is almost entirely defined by masculine pursuits of power.
The first is what is what is most commonly referred to as Patriarchalism and refers to a male dominated social structure, it is where the stereotype of men that keep women barefoot and pregnant originates, it is what motivates Feminists everywhere. The second is that of the secular world, the American mainstream, where the focus is career, success is about earning more money, climbing the corporate or political ladder and sacrificing anything that stands in the way of these ambitions. In these first two hierarchies the leadership role is about imposing our own will through brute force or coercion. The third, which I will get to later, is vastly different than these two and inverts the power structure.
The Rejected Patriarchalism
It is no big secret that traditional hierarchy, in the West, has been on the decline since the Protestants pulled out from under the Papal authority and rejected their kings. There is certainly a case to made against Rome and their abuse of power over the centuries. But that hasn’t stopped their wayward children from following in their footsteps.
Like Father, like son, right?
The misuse of authority did not end or begin with the Pontiff and the Patriarchalism of the most defiant fringes of American Biblical fundamentalism is clear evidence. You won’t ever tell these men what to do, but they sure like invoking God’s will to make their wife and children submit to them. The far extreme of this small minority, if they could ever agree on anything, may even resemble the fiction of Handmaid’s Tale if given power.
However, there’s about as much chance of this type of hierarchy gaining prominences as there is of Joseph Smith resurrecting himself from the dead. This is the strata of internet trolls who post memes and enjoy calling women whores for prudently avoiding men like them. And, this, incidentally, is what feminists happily use as a stereotype and strawman version of all men on the religious right. Misogyny is a good term, as these are men threatened by strong women and see their rule as entitlement rather than a respect that is earned. These men *do* stifle women because it is the only way they can feel strong or significant.
Opposition to abortion isn’t really isn’t about the babies, for the loud mouths of this particular patriarchy, rather it is about the competition and gaining back the social position they think they deserve. In their cult groups women play the role of enabler, they must smile sweetly as their dear husband speaks of his superior role. The great irony is that this is the kind of narcissistic man who creates his own mortal enemy, the angry ‘liberated’ woman, because he’s the embodiment of unqualified, irresponsible and just plain bad leadership. No intelligent woman wants to be his baby making machine.
The problem with this hierarchial structure is that it is all about male dominance without male accountability, it is entirely populated by morally (or otherwise) deficient men and abnormally weak women. It always spawns rebellion. It is precisely what has led to the alternative, which has risen up in reaction to abuses, and is the ultimate expression of an American ideal gone off the rails.
The Dominant American/Western Order
Industrialization has changed the world. The United States was once envisioned as an agrarian society, of small communities, but the rapid technological advancements of the past two centuries have rewritten the vision. The American dream of upward mobility and greater economic independence has now inspired generations in the working class. This ideal of more more more has given birth to our age of consumerism. But the thing is, this has not lived up to the promise, those who do achieve find their success to be a hollow victory and those who do not will always be chasing the next fad.
Many believe more money and increased independence will make them happier. It started with men, the bread winner, leaving the home in the wee hours, with lunch pail in hand, working in the factories or mines, but since WW2 it has ‘progressed’ to include women. I mean, Rosie the Riveter, who started her life as cynical war propaganda tool, has taken root as women have both increase labor supply (driving down wages) and have also provided a generally more compliant workforce for our powerful corporate overlords.
The sad reality is that the rapid changes have not provided additional security for women. Women told that their significance can only come from following masculine pursuits are not any more empowered than their grandmothers a couple generations ago. Indeed, this idea that happiness comes earning more money or that empowerment comes from women filling traditionally male roles is the greatest myth of our time.
Worse, unlike husbands or children that have a real emotional connection to their wives or mothers, these corporate and government bosses only see women as ‘human resource’ to exploit. Sure, they might promote this idea and image of the emancipated woman, claim to care about rights, but it’s all a lie to keep women enslaved. We are made to think fulfillment comes from our next paycheck, but it’s all a ruse. The working class is benefitting less and less from their long hours, big corporations make record profits at our expense.
It is no big surprise that corporations are offering to pay for abortion and even the travel expenses. The bottom line is that they can’t make their huge profits without docile and compliant employees. It is simply much cheaper for them to end a pregnancy than it is for them to pay maternity leave benefits and potentially lose the services of a female employee forever. It is never actually about her well-being or the future of the nation, it is always about the parasitic self-serving elites and their political or financial interests.
The whole system is structured to downplay the most uniquely feminine contribution to our future and that being childbearing. Men cannot do this. Sadly, many women, due to corrupted patriarchy and various narratives designed to subdue her potential (climate change, overpopulation, etc.), have been convinced that their most wonderful asset, the ability to bring new life into the world, is a liability and that they should work for ‘the man’ rather than invest in the only ones who would ever truly love them.
Abortion is truly a result of female despair and not empowerment. It is a ‘choice’ that is brought about by insecurity, a fear of being alone raising a child or their own inadequacy, and stifles the real strength of women. The most insidious thing about this patriarchy is that it is sold as Feminism and freedom, but it is truly as denigrating of female achievement as the widely rejected traditional version of patriarchy. In this new order women are simply the lower cost, lower maintenance, rented mules to replace the poor immigrant men of a prior generation.
Unfortunately, many will realize too late that they’ve been fooled into giving up their youth to the soulless industrial machine. Women, in particular, with their narrower reproductive window, will carry regret as their only lasting reward for their academic excellence and being the employee of the month. No, not at all saying that we should not have a career, or that money is unimportant, it is nice to have financial freedom, but who will care for this current generation as they age?Communities and social structures, like marriage, things that provide stability, have faded. The patriarchy of corporate boards and government bureaucracies is only truly concerned with expanding their power or profits. Even if the intent isn’t explicitly to subjugate, this regime run by controlling men and women attempts to monopolize our choices. To corporate bosses even the competition of a baby is too much for them to handle, that’s why they promote and pay for abortion.
The Faithful/Healthy Patriarchy
Patriarchy gets a bad name because most people see the first two manifestations and not the ideal. There are patriarchs just like there are matriarchs, some are very good while others are very bad and, therefore, we must approach the topic with appropriate nuance to sort the better examples from the worse.
The ideal role of the patriarch is to use their male strength as a means to provide and protect. He is not a tyrant nor a pushover, he is never in competition with or threatened by a strong woman. Instead, he lifts everyone around him up, is the model of submission to authority and willing to sacrifice himself fully for the good of others. He is, like the Centurion commended for his faith, “a man under authority,” and a stark contrast to the abusive Patriarchalism of small men. This is an authority that comes through actions and example rather than through his physical stature, his feelings of entitlement or bellicose demands.
It is the way of Jesus, who both spoke with an authority not matched by the religious elites of his day and yet was also gentle to those of lower social status. In saying, “the last will be first, and first will be last,” (Matthew 20:16 NIV) Jesus points to an inverse hierarchial structure—one that is led by humility and repentance, defined love and faithfulness, rather the power to dominate others through brute force or disparaging comments:
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles Lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”(Mark 10:42-45 NIV)
Men who do not lead by the self-sacrificial example of Jesus, who as a man equal to God still fully submitted to the will of the Father, are not worthy of their position and make a mockery of the leadership role. We live in an era where there are flamboyant displays of gender stereotypes, but none is more ridiculous or absurd than these grown little boys who try to dress themselves up as men and yet have nothing to offer the world besides shit posting on social media.
Some need the male genitalia dangling from their loud smoke spewing vehicles to try to prove what would otherwise be open to question, they call women whores for being single moms or sexually active (in a way that excludes them) and yet seem to forget for every sexual encounter there is another party involved. Women certainly do not impregnate themselves. And most women would not seek to terminate the life inside their womb if they were in a relationship with an emotionally secure and Godly man.
No, the alternative of soft and sanctimonious men is not better. The enablers of the current political establishment, who appease women in a desperate bid to gain sexual access, are just as much an embarrassment to masculinity as their fake tough guy ‘conservative’ counterparts.
Women could be fully actualized as women if men were adequately filling their role. No, this is not to say that women are incapable of sinning, of being power hungry or evil, but only to say that good men will be like Jesus and even take responsibility for sins that are not their own as a means to bring salvation to the most damaged individuals and lost sheep of this world. Sure, laws to protect the innocent and vulnerable are important, but they themselves cannot hold back the rising tide of self-centered abusive men and angry reactionary women.
True empowerment is about giving life, not in taking life. It is about creating, not controlling others. It is found in the soldier’s sacrifice and also in the woman who bravely and courageously carries her pregnancy to term in an uncertain world. Salvation came through Mary’s womb and was finished by the life-bearing Cross of Christ. Two plus two can become three when men and women both contribute to the whole, by selfless participation in the transcendent space of loving relationship. It is when two are brought together in spiritual union with the Divine that a new generation can find a good home.