Editor’s Note: When Amelia originally wrote On the Sexist Nature of Benevolent Patriarchy on August 28, 2011, it ignited one of the most animated debates we have ever had here at the Exponent, quickly generating hundreds of comments. It is one of our most viewed posts of all time, in spite of the fact that somehow, this post became inaccessible in our archive several months ago. Our readers are not happy about this. Neither am I. As we have been unable to fix the problem, I am reposting this important essay.
You can view the original discussion at http://web.archive.org/web/20120427181058/http://www.the-exponent.com/2011/08/21/8645/ thanks to Wayback Machine Internet Archiving.
On the Sexist Nature of Benevolent Patriarchy
Last Friday Modern Mormon Men featured two alternative viewpoints on patriarchy: “modern patriarchy” and “reluctant patriarchy.” I was wary of reading the piece on “modern patriarchy” based on a couple of quotes I’d already seen from it, but I read it anyway. Because I like Modern Mormon Men. Because I have been saying for a very long time that gender equity will not be a reality in a meaningful way until we seriously examine the gender roles we impose on men, as well as those we impose on women. And I respect that the MMM bloggers are engaging in that project—the project of asking what it means to be a Modern, Mormon, Man.
Well I read that post, and I tried to do so with an open mind. And I hit this gem on the nature of “righteous dominion”:
It is children heeding, submitting to, and honoring the counsel of their parents as their parents act within righteous patriarchy. It is wives hearkening to, submitting to, and honoring the counsel of their husbands as their husbands act within righteous patriarchy. And, it is husbands leading, persuading, and gently guiding their wives and children as they follow, honor and submit to the counsel of God.
I felt physically ill. I kept reading. And I found an even bigger doozy:
There must be order in all things and there must be one person to be the head of the family. God has chosen men and, for better or for worse, it is this order that we can utilize to edify our families or to crush ourselves against. I know that it is when there is a break in this chain of honor and counsel — the chain that leads from children to wives to husbands and to God — that there is tension, trauma and tragedy in the home.Read More