I’ve just finished up George Gilder’s essential read “Men and Marriage,” originally published as “Sexual Suicide,” and now I feel like Pooh Bear with my head full of bees. You really need to read this book and then work your way through the rest of the Gilder corpus. If it helps you any, CrossPolitic just interviewed Gilder recently about a number of his books. You can watch/listen here.
Gilder’s argument is basically a natural law case for the inescapability and goodness of the dominance of men, insisting that a society will only have stability and make real progress when the natural instincts and proclivities of man are tamed or disciplined by monogamous marriage. This book is about the relationship between marriage and economics, marriage and education, marriage and jobs, marriage and war, and lots more. There are places where I would differ with particular formulations, but on the whole, Gilder’s work (first published in 1973, and revised and re-published in 1986) is stunningly prescient and wonderfully incisive. Get it. Read it. Apply it.
What follows is simply a scatter shot list of takeaway points from the book to whet your appetite. Some are simple quotations and some are my extrapolations and Gilder shouldn’t be blamed for them, even if he inspired them.
“Women control not the economy of the marketplace but the economy of eros: the life force in our society and our lives” (P. 18). This is a true glory and power and “complements” the glory and power of men.
“Marriages become more “open” — open not only for partners to get out, but also for the powerful to get in” (P. 58). The “powerful” include powerful suitors, making adultery more possible/likely. The powerful also include governments, or other authorities. I believe there is a direct line between the breakdown of marriage and the civil government’s overreach and intrusion into the home and family.
“Monogamy is egalitarianism in the realm of love. It is a model of rationing. It means — to put it crudely — one to a customer” (P. 58). Ergo, polygamy, prostitution, pornography, and the “hook up” culture invite and reward power disparities. Turning sex into a marketplace gives the powerful the advantage — powerful as defined by wealth and prestige, influence and physical prowess.
“The feminists turn to the courts for coercive solutions when voters refuse to give them what they want. But coercive solutions are necessarily enforced by male power and ultimately hostile to women’s interests in politics. A social system based on physical force, even if disguised by court orders, will eventually become a patriarchy far more oppressive than any democracy dominated by men” (P. 109).
“Politics is ultimately based on force, and the most effective wielders of force are groups of men.” Political power is always ultimately coercive. Whatever power we grant to civil government, we are saying that the government may ultimately resort to violent force to enforce it. And this means that political power is inherently masculine (109).
“Under capitalism any man or woman with a new idea, however unpopular or ‘unqualified’ — even living in a foreign country that trades with the capitalist homeland — can challenge the special interests and privileges, the inappropriate job definitions and pay relationships, and the entrenched cells of fat and inefficiency that afflict the economy” (150).
“Women in the home are not performing some optional role that can be more efficiently fulfilled by the welfare state. Women in the home are not “wasting” their human resources. The role of the mother is the paramount support of civilized human society. It is essential to the socialization of both men and of children. The maternal love and nurture of small children is an asset that can be replaced, if at all, only at vastly greater cost” (153).
“Indeed, the essential capitalist act — the very paradigm of giving or investing without a predetermined outcome — is the bearing, raising, and educating of children” (198). In other words, we might say that public/government schools were one of the first steps in undermining marriage and men. It was a first soft-socialist step in relieving a man of the duty of overseeing the education of his children.
“Marriage is the key to the connection of fathers to this central process in the creation of life and the production of wealth. The golden rule and perennial lesson of marriage is: ‘Give and you will be given unto.’ It is the obvious message of motherhood. But societies thrive only to the extent that this maternal wisdom becomes as well the faith of fathers” (199).
Go get this book. It will challenge you and encourage you.