More F. Roger Devlin

Mr. Devlin may be one of the most brilliant men alive. He is definitely one of the most important MRA thinkers.

There’s a new essay of his now, a long multi-part work.

Home economics

One of the hallmarks of Western civilization is the unusually high status it has accorded women. That has often been attributed to the influence of Christianity, which prizes certain typically feminine virtues (mercy, humility) more than pagan society had. But Tacitus had already noted the respect paid to women’s opinions as being typical of the pagan Germanic tribes of his time. Some believe the regard paid to women to be a reflection of conditions in ancient Northern Europe, where the nuclear rather than the extended family was the more important economic unit. But however it may have originated, women’s position in our civilization has recently been eroded by economic developments and by the feminist movement. The present essay aims to explain how this has happened and argue the need to reverse the process.

Exactly the point I keep making.

In fact, the high standing of women in our civilization not only long predates feminist ideology but is logically incompatible with it. To understand why, one needs to keep two points in mind: 1) women’s traditional status was linked to behavioral expectations — fulfilling the duties of their station; and 2) it assumed qualitative differences and complementarity (rather than “fair” competition) between the sexes.

As to the first point: strictly speaking, it was never women as such who enjoyed high status but rather the social roles proper to them — those of wife and mother, chiefly. Being born female (or male) is merely a natural fact of no intrinsic moral significance, but the filling of a social role involves effort and often sacrifice. Accordingly, the respect paid to women was not an unconditional birthright; it was reserved for women who fulfilled their feminine obligations.

Feminists are basically women who want the respect and honor given to good women, without fulfilling the obligations necessary to be considered a good woman.

Devlin shares my conviction that liberals, including feminists, envy their superiors:

A feminist in the strict and proper sense may be defined as a woman who envies the male role.

By the male role I mean, in the first place, providing, protecting, and guiding rather than nurturing and assisting. This in turn involves relative independence, action, and competition in the larger impersonal society outside the family, the use of language for communication and analysis (rather than expressiveness or emotional manipulation), and deliberate behavior aiming at objective achievement (rather than the attainment of pleasant subjective states) and guided by practical reasoning (rather than emotional impulse).

Both feminist and nonfeminist women sense that these characteristically male attributes have a natural primacy over their own. I prefer to speak of “primacy” rather than superiority in this context since both sets of traits are necessary to propagate the race. One sign of male primacy is that envy of the female role by men is virtually nonexistent — even, so far as I know, among homosexuals.

Actually, quite a few gay men envy the female role. Perhaps they would be more properly classed as transsexuals. However, I can’t really speculate as to what percentage of gay men feel this way, just that it’s not a tiny percentage. On the other hand, I think most lesbians do envy the male role, because most of us are biologically unsuited to the female one. Homosexuals tend to have varrying mixes of masculine and feminine qualities, including in our neural structure and hormonal balance. This is part of why so many seminal feminists were lesbians; it’s hard for us to understand that 98% of women have no desire or aptitude for the kind of life we want.

But all feminists really want is the pleasant subjective states. They just want different toppings.

And perhaps even more than she envies the male role itself, the feminist covets the external rewards attached to its successful performance: social status, recognition, power, wealth, and the chance to control wealth directly (rather than be supported). She tends not to give much thought to the great mass of men who struggle to fulfill the demands of their role without ever attaining the rewards of superior performance.

This is one point on which I believe the great Mr. Devlin is slightly confused. Only lesbians actually envy the male role. Straight feminists have no interest in it, only in its rewards. In fact, a few lines later he shows that he understands this:

Let us consider next what envy is. First, it involves a painful awareness of something good or desirable in another person. This much it has in common with emulation. The emulator, however, is primarily concerned with self-improvement. Envy has a fundamentally negative character; it wants to bring the other down rather than raise itself up. The envier usually does not admit that explicitly but rather claims to have been cheated, whether by the envied party or by the surrounding society: he disguises his envy as a zeal for justice. Often he claims to want to compete on a level playing field, but maintains that competition has been “fixed.”

What the appeasers actually do is grant women some of the external appearances and rewards of such achievement. That is the meaning of corporate hiring and promotional preferences. But a little reflection will reveal why such concessions can never satisfy the feminist. She is humiliated precisely by the awareness that her advancement is an unearned act of charity on the part of the hated “patriarchy.”


In practice, since the feminist can never be the equal of men at the male role, she concentrates her efforts upon sabotaging that role. In other words, because she cannot level up, she contents herself as best she can with leveling down. So the practical consequence of feminist political power is to make it impossible for men to “do their thing” (fulfill their role). For example, women may not be able to have careers as glamorous and successful as they imagined, but one accusation of “harassment” is all it takes to destroy the career of a man whose accomplishments she could never equal.

The gullible women who entered the workforce at the urging of feminists quickly discovered that they did not like it very much (despite their feminine advantages enumerated above). Work turned out to be … well, a lot of work. Their response to the broken promises of feminism, however, was not to blame the ideologues for having made them or themselves for having believed them; it was to blame men. Men simply had to re-engineer the world of work until women found it “fulfilling.” And feminism would lead the way again. (One of the movement’s greatest strengths has been this ability to profit politically from its own failures.)

That’s a point I’ve made before. I pointed out that feminism is a going concern, because impossible goals can never be reached, so feminism will always have a racket.

In the final section, he discusses the fact that men are not as good at looking after children, and denounces the feminist demand that men do half of the housework.

That may not sound particularly alarming to those still unaware that Spain has already passed a law providing for the arrest of men who fail to do half the housework. Similar moves are afoot in Germany. One wonders what action the international sisterhood will suggest against the men now opting for bachelorhood: conscripting them to serve as butlers for lesbians, perhaps?

My own home is usually a mess. Maybe I can use the masculine aspect of my homosexual nature as an excuse for that. In any case, in a sane era, it’s generous of husbands to help around the house. In this era, I think men should adamantly refuse to do any housework.

Second, and in connection with the subject of the present essay, men must reestablish their rightful position in the world of work: I propose the slogan “Take Back the Day.” This will require an end to antidiscrimination law as it relates to the sexes.

In part, the purpose of men’s reestablishing themselves as breadwinners is simply to enable them to support children, of course. But it may also be necessary to make them attractive enough to women that they can start a family. We need to reestablish a “masculine mystique” in the mind of young women, teaching them once again that they are insufficient unto themselves and stand in need of a man. That is rarely obvious to a modern young woman with a well-paying job and no children. But plenty of evidence concerning fatherless homes indicates that men are as necessary to women as ever over the course of a lifetime. Men, too, need to understand that they have an essential role to play in the home — that the purposes of the family cannot be properly carried out in their absence.

A return to freedom of association, including the legalization of “discrimination,” would benefit the world of work itself as well as home life. Men share thought and behavior patterns that permit more effective cooperation in an all-male setting than in mixed groups. And feminism has created a “hostile working environment” for men in most industries. Plenty of men would be eager to work for firms that formally barred women, far more than would presently be willing to say so out loud. Under a regime of free competition, all-male companies might quickly rout their “gender-equitable” competitors from the field. I suspect a lot of feminists are perfectly aware of this.

This made me all happy inside. Oh, if only!

Those are the highlights. The entire thing is well worth reading. Especially where he runs down romance novels, which I hate.

Mr. Devlin also has an essay about Wendy Shalit here. I admire her work, but his criticism is apt and insightful, as always. A teaser:

A highly successful women’s magazine editor has written a book of advice for young wives stating: “Giving, devoting, sacrificing … these are the actions of a good wife, no? No. These are the actions of a drudge, a sucker, a sap.” Instead, women are urged to emulate a wife who threw her husband’s clothes into the garden to teach him not to leave socks on the floor: “He understood I meant it.” Or another who wanted her husband to help with the laundry, and hollered at him: “Are you a f***ing retard that you don’t see me running up and down stairs? Listen to me and stop your bulls**t.” Or another who discovered this interpersonal skill: “Just stand there and start screaming. If you stand there and scream long enough, someone is going to realize that you’re standing in the middle of the room screaming [and ask] ‘Why are you screaming?'” (pp. 245-47)

What could be wrong with men these days that they refuse to commit?

I am opposed to spanking children, but I think spanking wives is sometimes called for.


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