Go to the Mattresses, Female Edition

New commenter Joe was kind enough to drop some hilarious history here which does not speak well for the shield maiden trope.

During the late stages of the [American Civil] War, the town of LaGrange, Georgia, had an armed all-female militia unit which drilled with weapons and which mustered in the street apparently ready to fight when the Federals arrived. The Yank in command, a gentleman and a diplomat, sent a messenger under a white flag to tell them that their homes would not be burned and that (as I recall) “they could surely do more damage with their eyes than with their old squirrel-rifles”.) Reassured, they stood down. LaGrange was not burned, but in a touch suitable for the worst of novels, the Federal in command later married one of the members of the “Nancy Harts” girl militia unit.

Otherwise: They would have been slaughtered. The Union force was strong enough that the Confederate cavalry fled them; according to a link provided by Dalrock.

In mid-April 1865 Major General James H. Wilson led a Union raid on west Georgia. As the Union troops approached LaGrange from West Point, the local Confederate cavalrymen fled, and the Nancy Harts stepped in to protect the town.

…which was accomplished by entreating the Union soldiers to spare the town, and then surrendering to the strong handsome Union soldiers; even unto the mattress.

He Put Her Boots on Like Any Other Man

Oscar left a link to an article about a Wyoming homesteader named Elinor Pruitt Stewart. She is presented as an American heroine, but turns out to be more of a fantasy. Here’s the short version:

Elinor was born after the last Comanches had been sent to reservation. By her adulthood, the American West had been tamed, but not yet settled. After divorcing her first husband of three years she moved to Wyoming and took a job as a housekeeper. Then she married her boss. He built an add-on to his house so that she could live in it and pretend to be an independent homesteader. This pretension went on for years, as she hid the fact that she had married her boss, and that his family controlled “her” homestead; even after Atlantic Monthly began to publish her accounts. For years readers of her letter accounts were misled to believe she was single instead of married and supported by a husband and his family. According to those who published her letters: The greatest (conscious) threat to Stewart were coyotes; which are skittish creatures. 

She didn’t own her homestead. She didn’t build her house. She didn’t depend on herself. She didn’t fight off anyone or anything. She told lies that she homesteaded independently.

I will continue research, so please point me towards more historical books and articles.

Research Request: Fighting Frontier Women

In Texas, where I live, it is not uncommon for a man to speak of his wife as a crack shot, or even as a hot-headed gunslinger with an itchy trigger finger. Yet I have never detected a sense of obligation and responsibility which was attached to such boastings. What I mean is this: Suppose a man is away on business. While he is gone a burglar invades his home while his wife and children are there. If she hid, fired no shots, and in fact did not even make a peep: He would be fine with that as long as she was unhurt. If she ran, he’d be fine with that, too.

Afterwards, when nerves had settled, he or she might crack a joke that the burglars were “lucky” that she didn’t pump them full of lead. But in no way would the husband actually be disappointed in his wife because she fled and hid instead of fought. The reverse is not true.

Several times now someone has written in comments that frontier women were regularly expected to defend the homefront from Indians, bandits, and wild animals such as bobcats, cougars, and bears. I find the idea preposterous. It seems much more likely to me that frontier husbands either:

  1. Left their wives in trusted communities, i.e., near family, friends, or gov’t authorities.
  2. Expected their wives to flee/escape to safety.
  3. Foolishly hoped that danger never came.

So here is my request: Can anyone give me a historical account or source for the widespread notion that frontier men actually expected their wives to actually fight off dangerous marauders?

We Do Not Box the Air

Scott over at American Dad Web writes:

All of spiritual discipline is like that. I figure, if its something that you personally find hard to do–but God asks you to do it anyway, you should probably do more of it. Struggle with overeating? Restrict your calories more. Struggle with loving your wife even when she is acting unlovable? Love her more. Struggle with obeying your husband because you think you know better? Submit and get over yourself.

So good.

Our conversations in the Men’s Sphere instruct me in the mystery of communication; of how information is transferred and processed; particularly among men. It is amazing. I mean: You talk about one thing, and I disagree. I say so, and then I talk about something else…but that something else has been influenced–pulled towards agreement–by your first statement, and I don’t even know it. And vice versa, and so on back and forth.

And there is the matrix-ing of information. Months ago Oscar recommended to me Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength. Well, Oscar is a big strong guy so I listened to him. I buy Rippetoe’s book and listen to his podcast, and do you know what he says is the best recovery for injury? Lifting weights with the injured limb. He says that physical therapy is a sham which trains one to be weak. Compare that to the words I quoted of you.

Meanwhile, last year someone somewhere linked to an episode of Joe Rogan’s podcast which featured a clinical psychologist and professor named Jordan Peterson. His prescription for solving problems (say, a phobia) is athwart our mass media’s prescription. They say that we should make the problem go away, or that the problem isn’t real. Peterson says (I paraphrase), “No, the problem is real and it’s not going to go away. What you have to do is become stronger than the problem. And you can just like everybody else. Use a tool, chop up the problem into approachable pieces, and then overcome them one by one. The problem doesn’t stop being scary. You just learn to become stronger.”

In all three cases (Scott’s post, Rippetoe, and Peterson) what is brought to mind I will quote below. And it makes sense of why we have a physical body which must die; yet why we are to have hope for an eternal life after that. Here is St. Paul from Romans 5:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

That hope is that this–life–isn’t just a game. It’s not futile to get stronger (mentally and physically) now only to get weak and die later. Nor is it just of temporal utility; the strength gained isn’t just to make our short lives easier for now. Suffering here is the opportunity to learn to have faith and so to train for eternity.

(Taken almost unmodified from my comment on Scott’s post.)

Real Men Make Riots Safe for Women.

That thought is at the heart of the the conversations about Ann Coulter’s decision to bail from Berkley. The idea that Real Men make _________ safe for women is a particularly effective seduction to use against men. It infers that he–who wants to be a Real Man–has the power and authority to do something about whatever circumstance some woman or women wants to be made safe so that she or they can participate. He usually doesn’t.

Enjoy the Reprieve, Fish

A week ago today I bought a house built in the Craftsman style. Previous owners kept it from structural ruin, but, over time, handyman repairs eroded the character. Broken drawers were nailed; wood floors covered in linoleum, then plywood, then more linoleum; two 3×5 light doors lost; a French doorway and wall haphazardly removed; built-ins demolished. The dining room was converted into a den, and the huge butler’s pantry into a small dining room; a breakfast nook into a closet for laundry and the water heater; the laundry room into a tiny back porch.

It all goes back…except the French doors and the wall between living and dining. That will be raised to match the window casings. Pillared knee walls with built-in shelves will bookend the new opening.

The back porch will be closed-in to go back to a laundry room, with ironing/folding table and cupboards. 

The butler’s pantry is large enough to serve its original purpose, and as a work area for homeschool and artwork. 

Some of the original flooring must be repaired, as well as several of the original double-hung windows. The wooden screens are missing, too. Everything needs four layers of paint removed and then repainted, doors re-hung, and drawers fitted. The bathrooms and closets are pitiful, and there is a room’s worth of space unused in the attic. The original shed probably needs to come down; though I do like the big rolling doors.

It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for.

I will continue to write. Some time is free now which was not. Buying a house is a part-time job, and that’s done. Homeschool ends this week, thank goodness. Work always falls off in the summer. 

Fishing will suffer most.

A Crime Boss or a Captive

In some comments SFC Ton made a counter-argument that power is manliness, rather than authority.

Authority comes from power, masculinity is power
You can be a good man and use your power and authority in ways the Almighty would approve of and be a good man.

Or you could use power and authority counter to God’s word. Makes you a bad man

But a man either way

Desire is femininity was settled in my mind a long time ago, and in a future post I will talk about some of that. The nature of manhood took a little longer, and a big part of the reason was because of the way we use the word power. As a word, power is like love in that we use it to mean so many things. It confuses our thinking; mine included. I recognized that, but it still took time to work out.

My first answer was: Manliness is competence. I told this to a friend, and two things happened. First, I was frustrated by my inability to explain what I meant in a way which sounded clear as I said it out-loud. The second was that, while my friend agreed, he wasn’t visibly enthused. My friend is sharp. That lack confirmed my frustrations and I knew I hadn’t got it.

I went through capability, forcewill, and a bunch of words–including several returns to power–each time thinking through the ways each word could be used. That power can be used in so many ways forbade it from me every time I went back to it. Power can mean legitimacy in discrimination. It can mean the force used to exercise discrimination. It can mean the will to make discriminating choices. It can mean the ability to persuade another person to do one or all of those, or to manipulate circumstances to make such events likely!

As I thought about these things, I realized that a common formulation which I learned as a child, was slightly, but significantly, wrong. I had been taught that men have responsibility, and that men who properly handle that responsibility are then given authority. That is wrong because we cannot separate responsibility from authority. We sometimes talk as if we can separate them; as if we are responsible for things over which we have no authority. But that only seems to be true either because we believe lies (like modern marriage “vows”), and because other men in authority sometimes abuse their power. Men are susceptible to this because authority is our thing. We want it to be true when we are told we are responsible. We intuitively grasp that to give us one handle of responsibility should gain us the second handle of power and so the whole of authority. Women, though, are quick to point out their own powerlessness when it true, or even when it merely suits their purposes.

So there is one thing: authority, with two parts: power, and responsibility. When we try to separate them, the effort fails and things go badly because men lose their hearts. Any authority with a those two parts out of balance creates, instead of a man, either a kind of moral monster (power without responsibility), or a pitiful wretch (responsibility without power); a crime boss, or a captive.

Copping Out

A violent mob of Black Lives Matter activists attacked another speaker at another college, Claremont McKenna. This time it was Heather MacDonald; a writer for City Journal. She is also a colleague of a friend of this blog. No one was arrested, and it appears no on is going to be arrested.

CMC president Hamir Chodosh writes:

Based on the judgment of the Claremont Police Department, we jointly concluded that any forced interventions or arrests would have created unsafe conditions for students, faculty, staff, and guests. I take full responsibility for the decision to err on the side of these overriding safety considerations.

[…]

Blocking access to buildings violates College policy. CMC students who are found to have violated policies will be held accountable. We will also give a full report to the other Claremont Colleges, who have responsibility for their own students.

College policy? It violates the law! Why not say so? Because it’s code. It tells us there will be no legal action against the troglodytes who formed a mob and attacked a white  female academic. It is hard to think of a softer target.

Oh yeah, one more thing: Her talk was a defense of the police; the kind who refused to arrest anyone at CMC, and who consistently refuse to arrest Leftist terrorists all across the US.

We’re gonna need more Based Stickman.

This Weekend on: What’s the Real Tradition?

I take it as axiomatic that the lives recorded in the Bible are, overall, just like ours; that we can read about their decisions, relate to their circumstances, and think about how to apply that history so that it informs our own decisions. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy, or that we always get it right. it doesn’t even mean the people in those histories got it right. It just means we can learn from them.

According to traditionalists (and others): Men are supposed to chase, and women are supposed to be caught. Or they might say: Men are to initiate, and women are to respond. Imagine a party. There are single men and women. The traditionalist wants the men to pick a woman, and then woo her. Then he (the trad) wants her to respond with a Yes, or No, or Show me more. That traditional mating ritual is wrong and foolish. Roissy/Heartiste’s maxim that “Men display, women choose” is much more true. Go to a party and see for yourself.

The traditionalist might counter, “Well, that’s not how it’s supposed to work. A real man pursues what he wants.” I say that is half-assed crossdressing. It is the man acting like a woman while the woman smirks and presides.

If you fancy yourself a traditionalist and disagree, then here is an exercise for you: Search your Bible for a story about a man who woos a woman directly. If it’s traditional it should be easy to do, right? If or when you find it put it in the comments and let’s see how that story plays out, and how it compares to the others. Let us discover what is the real tradition.