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.
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, force, will, 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.
TRADITIONALIST, n. A person on the Internet who all day gripes to his virtual community about how modern is everyone else.
Sexual dimorphism in humans is real. There are sex differences and they cannot be overcome except that they are eliminated altogether; the result of which is less than human. But it is not as pronounced as in other mammals. One poignant example is that no other male mammal spends as much time caring for offspring as human males. Maladjusted and bitter feminists gripe about leaving women behind to care for the children, but men are the most tenderhearted males in the kingdom. A man is more womanly than a lion is lioness-ly. He’s also more godly; since women are also made in His image. The inverse is also true.
The division of male authority and female desire is not absolute. Men have desire too, and women also have authority. For the sake of ease of memory, think of it as another example of the Pareto Principle: 80% of a man’s decision-making is in reference to his authority, and 20% is influenced by his desires. The reciprocal is true for women: 80% of choices follow desire and considerations of authority make up 20% of their M.O.
I’m far from the first to recognize this: Taoism’s yin-yang concept is apt. The difference between my view and the Taoist view is, I think, that the yin-yang is egalitarian, and my view is patriarchal. The circularity of the yin-yang symbol is fundamentally egalitarian; each side chasing the other and going nowhere. I submit that there is an order: Authority–judgment–should rule desire even as desire provokes judgment, and that we should desire to go up, towards God and His authority.
The essence of femininity is desire. A woman’s primary mode of operation is to answer the question: “What do I want?” Her primary mode of understanding others is to ask “What does he want?” Desire is to women like physical strength is to men. Most men are much stronger than all but the strongest women, and the strongest women don’t come close to the strongest men. Likewise: Most women want everything more than most men want anything.
For women, two desires that are in conflict or whose satisfactions are divisive, do not cause problems of choice, but problems of encompassment. How to get them both? Men often misinterpret women’s non-prioritized desires is when they have been subjected to the desire encompassment schemes. One way this is expressed is that men accuse women of not capable of loving their men. Of course that’s not true. A woman focused on her desire to help or please her man will do great and terrible things for him that few men would (or even should) do for a woman.
Men who misunderstand what they see in women also routinely accuse them of being irrational, or even thoughtless. That’s wrong. Women can be–and often are–extremely rational in the pursuit of their desires. We lack knowledge of those several desires which they are trying to satisfy at the same time and at the same speed.
Pursuit of multiple wants does cause chaos in their lives and to those surrounding them–especially men. Other women understand the encompassment of desires process even as they might dislike dealing with the chaos. But it is not the result of a lack of thinking. Their brains are always working to solve the problem of how to acquire Desire A, Desire 16, and Desire *. What they have the authority or capability to do is usually irrelevant to them except as obstacles to overcome, subvert, or sidestep on the way to satisfaction. This is very unlike men  whose primary concern revolves around what they have the authority to do.
As a comparison example to the ones in Manliness is Authority: If a young woman wants a car she will do whatever she can to get one. And whether she works for it, is gifted it, or never knows how to do anything with it but drive: No one will ever accuse her of being unwomanly. Satisfaction of desire is the measure. She could sell her body for a car. While we would scorn such behavior we still wouldn’t say she hadn’t acted like a woman.
 Notice that it is not opposed to authority.
The essence of manliness is authority. It’s the need and ability to make decisions, to pronounce those decisions, and to act upon them. Strength, power, command, competency, respect, courage, assertiveness…these are all parts of authority, but they lack the spoken component. Good and right speech is indivisible from authority.
When men succeed, they succeed along the paradigm of authority; be it wise decisions, strength, assertiveness, achievement or any of the other forms of authority. The classic example is the Battle of Thermopylae; which is especially poignant because they all died. Because they died in paramount expressions of wise decisions, strength, courage, assertiveness, respect, and achievement we call them manly, and even though they died we mean that with very high respect because of what went into that fight. They were mighty.
A modest modern example is a young man who decides to get a car. He gets a job to pay for a car and buys it. He learns how to maintain that car. That is manly.
We also count men’s failure along the paradigm of authority. Adam listened to the voice of his wife and ate the fruit instead of acknowledging the authority that was given him, acknowledging the authority that was kept from him, and for at least speaking the truth to Eve when she gave him the fruit. We’re still stinging from that one.
The young man who is given a car, doesn’t take care of it and can’t be bothered to learn how: We call him girly. He is not manly even if that car is a $50,000 vehicle.
In the comments to previous post on Traditionalism Oscar astutely posted video of Jordan Peterson, whose talks further spurred me in this direction of thought . It’s one of many in which he talks about his theory that–mythically–it is the duty of a “son” to resurrect a “dead father” by rescuing tradition from irrelevance. I’ve listened to his theory over a dozen times in various videos and podcasts, and I understand him to mean something like synthesis. Emotionally, it is a pleasing concept to think that the son–The New–has a duty to salvage the father–The Old–, yet put his own spin on it.
But it strikes me as trite…and also that the symbolism is fundamentally misleading. The father isn’t tradition. The father is the source of truth and goodness and love and authority. Tradition is no more a father than the buildings I grew up in are my dad.
 I can’t say where I’ll end up. These are my thoughts, and implicit requests for conversation.
If you’re going to make the case for some form of Traditionalism: What you cannot do is make the case that Traditionalism works to keep you, or your family, temporally happy, safe, wealthy, or in any other desirable state. There are so few Traditionalists that to judge its success by material fruits is to admit defeat. To trumpet an earthly bounty from Traditionalism is to wholly discredit yourself. Whatever earthly desires you think you can satisfy with Traditionalism will be put to shame by the proceeds of Modernism.
In a comment on yesterday’s post, Greenmantlehoyos wrote:
Man, thanks for being sane.
Hey man, my pleasure. It’s no sweat to be sane on the Internet while writing under a nom de guerre to a self-selected group of like-minded people . Sanity is a more difficult trick to pull in real life. It takes guts because there are risks. People–coworkers, friends, even family–might stop talking to you.
Or the reverse: Maybe you get surrounded by people (a group of coworkers, for example) who want to know why you have such wrong thoughts. Then you have to explain yourself, and then maybe also you find out that you don’t know how to explain yourself because you haven’t really thought these things through as far as you should have.
Maybe you were just going off intuition; which is another way of saying that you once had a glimpse of a true observation before you closed your eyes and went back to work; even though that glimpse has stuck with you. But a glimpse is no foundation for an argument. You’ve got to take a good hard look at the world in front of you to make an argument. Then you have to question yourself–take a good hard look at yourself–to try to know whether what you are now seeing for the first time is real, or if you have imagined it.
The latter–imagining things–becomes a real possibility. If what you see now is real, and if it conflicts with what you’ve always thought to be real, then you must accept that all your life up until now you have been imagining what you saw rather than really seeing it. At first this seems like a complication and a pain in the ass. But if you are brave then it’s an opportunity to elevate yourself above your peers. That’s a good thing. It’s also often lonesome.
Loneliness is tough. Years ago I was at a party. We were laughing and drinking and having a good time. Then my best friend said to me, laughing, “You are a lot more fun when you drink!” I got angry, but he was right. Later, looking at it with open eyes I understood that I got angry because he was right, and I had interpreted it as wholly derogatory of me. But it wasn’t. The thing about alcohol is that it slows down the brain. After a couple drinks I am within actual talking distance of others.
Excellence, by its nature, separates.
On the topic of “Shotgun Dads” trying to scare their daughters’ dates or boyfriends, Scott wrote:
Set aside all the stuff you tell yourself and probably your wife about “traditional values and gender roles” or whatever. You cannot, in todays world seriously plan on carrying out any of these threats. You are puffing out your chest to “scare” off the “bad” boys, who know you are full of crap.
He’s right. And if the date in question really is a bad boy this attitude is helpful to him for a couple reasons. First of all, any girl who is entertaining a bad boy is expressing to her father that his approval is meaningless. Attempts to warn off a bad boy heighten the stakes of the game she is playing. The most likely outcome is that she will do more with the bad boy, and sooner. Second, bad boys don’t want permission. They are planning to leave after they’ve had their fun any way. A father who falsely threatens is dancing to the same song as the bad boy.
The best foil to the plans of bad boys and the girls who want them is to trap them in forced commitment. If only someone had thought of that.
16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife. 17 If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the bride-price for virgins.
That is impossible in the modern world. However, the minds and desires and spirits of humans–including those of girls and bad boys–have not changed since that was written. A protective father could adopt the Lord’s strategy in the OT to our weakened and less manful times by introducing the topic of marriage every time a date/boyfriend’s name is raised, or whenever he is around. Girls perhaps don’t want to marry right now, but they all want to be marriageable right now.
A father could cajole or question a boy to express how he finds the daughter marriageable. This is sure to cause discomfort, but most girls will not be able to resist the temptation to inspect every nook and cranny of the boy’s hems and haws. Any resistance by either the girl or boy to such lines of inquiry ought to be met with the innocent and forthright truth that Christian sexual and romantic relations are always concerned with, and pointed towards, marriage.
Scott also wrote:
It feels good, because all the women around you pat you on the head and nod approvingly. You have earned your cookie.
This is incorrect. If any women pat a man on the head for this it’s because she think he’s a fool; like how a mother “Awwws” over and hugs a child who has done something stupid. It’s not a reward, but consolation.
Dalrock wrote a post commenting on Scott’s post and elaborated in a similar direction as one of my previous essays. While I agree with what both Scott and Dalrock are seeing–the foolishness and the empty posturing–I do wonder what we should expect of most men. I’m much smarter than the average guy, yet my blog isn’t brimming with answers. And it is by far average guys who say things like, “I’ll be cleaning my gun when my daughter’s date gets here.” They’re fantasizing. It’s a really stupid fantasy with contradictions and perversion, but its seed is a honorable desire to protect their daughters. That desire is wholly frustrated because we live in a really shitty culture. Dissolute elites and social science freaks have spent years undermining husbands and outlawing every embodiment of patriarchy. Fathers have been legally emasculated so that no man may truly say it was he who protected his family.
Until there is either an outbreak of sanity, or a breakdown of political entities, we have only one option: Be humble, brave, and truthful; any one of which cannot be done without the others. Many will protest and question what good are such spiritual weapons against the materialist weapons of our enemies. They’ll put forward some scheme or system which pretends to be a psychological machine that produces Good Kids (or controlled women). They’ll say, “Look what I did. I did this and this and this, and I made my kids do that and that and that, and now they’re so awesome because I did it right.” That’s as foolish as saying you’re going to scare away bad boys from the girls who love them.
If anyone did it right, then what he did was recognize the truth, told it to himself, told it to those around him, and then tried to live in obedience to it.