Monday, July 30, 2007

The REAL Problem With Potter

Evil? Pro Occult? Hardly. The REAL problem with Harry Potter is that it should have been called Hermione Granger. Harry, bless his heart, is a bit of a dullard, and it is really Ms. Granger who keeps things on track.

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't read Deathly Hallows, you may not wish to continue further.

If you have read my previous Potter post, you will know that I am new to the Potterverse. I just started reading the books this summer, but I have marched my way through all of them, and now that I know the whole story, I have some definite opinions about the books.

Harry Potter, though an entertaining story, is, for a lack of a better word, conventional. Too conventional, I am afraid. After hearing all of the hoopla the Religious Right was spewing, I really thought the Potter stories were going to be a bit transgressive, perhaps even downright revolutionary. They aren't.

In no way does Potter disappoint more than in its treatment of the sexes. Most obviously, there is Harry himself. Now, I am quite sure Ms. Rowling chose a male protagonist for the reason many authors of kid lit chose male protagonists- the beliefs that boys won't read about girls, but girls will read about boys. In order to reach the widest possible audience, it is seen as advisable to have male protagonists. My take on this: no duh! Because, you see, you have just made a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you reinforce stereotypes, they stay strong. I wish Ms. Rowling would have defied the stereotype, because she had a character who I think would have appealed-- does appeal, as a matter of fact-- to both sexes. Hermione, who, from day one, was the real brains of the operation.

Not only does Ms. Rowling not make Hermione the main protagonist, she makes her the victim of much sexist malfeasance in the books. Not only is Hermione smarter, and better at magic, but she is just a better friend than Ron. She gives real advice, shows real loyalty, and has the confidence to get things done. In Deathly Hallows, this is made clear when Ron leaves Harry in his hour of greatest need because he succumbs to the influence of the horcrux. Hermione, too, felt the power of the horcrux, but she resisted it because she knew Harry needed her loyalty. It was do or die time, and per usual, Hermione wasn't about to play dead. Despite all of this, it is always Ron who is portrayed as Harry's "best mate", and his preference for Ron is made clear on multiple occasions. And, perhaps even more insultingly, Ms. Rowling makes Ron Hermione's love interest throughout, and in that travesty of an epilogue in Deathly Hallows, features them as a married couple. Hermione is simply too strong, too smart, and too capable to be chained to a liability like Ron. A male character of Hermione's caliber would never be paired with such an unworthy love interest.

It is no wonder Hermione can't catch a break- the Wizarding World itself is not set up to be kind to women. Just think about that phrase, oft used throughout the books. Wizarding World, though women are constantly referred to witches, and their magic is witchcraft, not wizardry. The use of these two words- wizard and witch- are suspect to start with, as witch has by far the more negative connotation, which Ms. Rowling couldn't help but be aware. She has no problem making up a totally new name for "regular" folk- Muggles- so why does she stick to such sexist old terms for the magical folk, instead of creating new ones? And though the Wizarding World is ostensibly equal opportunity, we have men running all of the shows- Headmaster Dumbledore, Ministers of Magic Fudge and Scrimgeour, acting Minister Shacklebolt. You do, of course see women in power- they just never have as much of it as the men. The fountain Harry sees at the ministry tells the tale- a Wizard, standing tall, flanked by a shorter witch, an adoring House Elf, and a respectful Centaur. Though Rowling makes much of the subservience of the other magical beasts, she never points out the fact the witch is overshadowed, too.

Ms. Rowling also indulges in a lot of sexist prattle in the books. From the insulting bits about Ron rejecting "ugly" girls as possible dates to the Yule Ball in Goblet of Fire, to Harry's clearly disdainful treatment of Cho when she showed her vulnerability about Cedric in Order of the Phoenix, to the constant "Girls are SO inscrutable" crap, we see sexist stereotypes reinforced again and again. The pickup book Ron gives to Harry in Half Blood Prince? That was real forward-thinking, wasn't it? Ron's retaliatory "snogging" of Lavender Brown, who was made out to be a first class airhead and bore? Great. I mean, what better messages to send to a young audience? String one girl along to make another jealous- after all, they are just girls.

Women, in Rowling's world, are stereotypes. We have the spinsters- prim and proper McGonagall, "toad like" Delores Umbridge, whiny fake Trelawney( a closet boozer who drinks that most feminine vice, cooking sherry), castrating bitch/wannabe gangster moll Bellatrix Lestrange. We have our resident housewives- Molly Weseley, that "fabulous" cook who knits embarrassing sweaters for her offspring, never misses a chance to nag, and gets all bent out of shape the moment one of her "brood" might be in trouble, Petunia Dursley, that mean-spirited Muggle with a mania for cleanliness and a blind eye for the faults of her only offspring, Dear Dudders, and Narcissa Malfoy, cold-blooded society matron who only melts at the thought of her son, Draco. Then we have the Madonna herself, Sainted Lily Potter, who's one act worth remembering was saving her baby from the dastardly Voldemort. We also have the pining Nymphadora Tonks, morose self-pitying "Moaning Myrtle", giggly Slytherin sycophant Pansy Parkinson... Rowling paints a lot of unflattering pictures of men, too, but only her women hew so closely to expected gender stereotypes. She even has "hags" as a class of magical beings unto themselves...

The last, and greatest insult, is the epilogue in Deathly Hallows. It's nineteen years later, the kids are all grown up, and guess what? They are all married... with children. Children, who, of course, act in stereotypically gendered ways. And by the amount of time devoted to the kids respectively, you just know who the movers and shakers are going to be (Surprise! The boys!)If the sexism of that tableau isn't enough to nauseate, the heteronormativity is.

I guess it was naive to expect too much from a child's story, but darn it! Children's literature is exactly where we need to be tearing down these stereotypes! Sure, the story maybe sweet going down, but that's because its just so much treacle.

Full Frontal Feminism- A Review

Full Frontal Feminism, the book by Jessica Valenti, created quite a stir in the feminist blogosphere this spring when it was released. I finally had a chance to read it tonight, and here are my thoughts:

1. Yes, the cover art is squicky. Apparently, this was the focus of a lot of the early criticism of the book by the feminist community. I agree, a picture of a thin, white, nude, disembodied female torso is a strange choice for a pro-feminist book.

2. When I said I read it in one night, that's no exaggeration. Though I am a quick reader, the book is pretty spare. I do have to give Ms. Valenti props for readability, though. She keeps the tone light and breezy (one of the causes for earlier criticism, but I'll get to that in a moment).

3. Ms. Valenti calls the book a "love letter to feminism", and it reads as exactly that. It is full of effusive, "Golly, feminism sure is great!" language, and doesn't concern itself with a lot of the details of what feminism is, or was, or is fighting against. The book explicitly says, on page three, that, "Full Frontal Feminism is not an exhaustive review of all things feminist". So, the reader is forewarned that this is not going to be the next addition to the Feminist Theory Cannon.

4. The book is explicitly aimed at the 15-25 year-old crowd, especially those who have had little contact with organized feminism. Ms. Valenti makes this clear throughout. She uses a lot of swearing and slang, no doubt in an effort to build rapport with that age group, and also because she admits that's just how she writes/talks.

Bearing all of this in mind, I think this book is exactly what it claims to be- a starting point for very young women who know very little about feminism. In that respect, I believe it succeeds in its mission. I work with people in this age group on a daily basis, and I can honestly say that keeping the book light on details as well as in tone is actually the right thing to do. I don't mean to assail the intelligence of youth, but honestly, they get preached at on such a regular basis that "heavy" intellectual works are usually a turn off for many of the "casual" readers Ms. Valenti is targeting. Less is more when trying to capture the attention of a group of people all ready over saturated with media and heavily invested in the problematic culture this book is trying to address.

I do have to say, however, that some of the arguments she advances are not the strongest, nor in my opinion, the most convincing, she could muster. I especially have problems with her "anti-abortionists hate sex" argument, because; 1. that is a gross simplification, and; 2. it is likely to be overly confrontational to a lot of the supposed audience of this book. Conservative Christian morality, which is at the base of a lot , if not most of the anti-abortion movement in this country, may very well take a dim view of sex, but that is not the exclusive drive behind the anti-abortion campaign. Though I applaud Ms. Valenti's blunt and truthful statement of her beliefs about abortion: "All I can say is that I think there is nothing wrong with abortion, that the right to control our bodies is one of the most important there is, and that those who are seeking to end that right are concerned not about "life", but control.", I believe she would have done better to give the opposing viewpoint a more nuanced treatment than "anti-abortionists hate sex". Yes, I agree that control, not "life" is the center of the abortion debate, but I think Ms. Valenti should have spent a little bit of time deconstructing the conservative need for control. As many of her readers will likely have grown up in a system that takes for granted the idea that moral control is "good", the automatic response many readers will have upon reading that anti-abortionists just hate sex will be, "No they don't! My (aunt, father, preacher, friends) just want to keep people from making hurtful mistakes, and ending innocent lives." I'm all for skipping over the "heavy" stuff when spending time on it will not do a lot of good, but this is one place, at least, where delving a little deeper and being a little less pat might have done some good.

People criticize the book because of Ms. Valenti's use of cursing and jargon. I'm actually fine with both of these things, though I do think they limit the appeal of the book to a wider audience. I also think the "right now-ness" of the book will limit its relevance in the future. However, its hard to have your cake and eat it too, and I understand the choices that were made here. As a regular reader of Feministing, I also recognize this to be a part of Ms. Valenti's signature style. I, for one, enjoy the slightly deeper and more nuanced writing on Pandagon, Feministe, I Blame The Patriarchy, etc., but I think Feministing is a great entry-level feminist blog, and I still like to go there for quick bites when I don't have time to digest the heavier fare somewhere else.

So, then, I think Full Frontal Feminism can, and should be read in the the same way Feministing is. In a way, the book is just a compilation of the kinds of posts you would find on that site. And in its own way, that's good, because that is what will, in my opinion, best pique the interest of the intended audience. Seen in that light, even the squicky cover art can be viewed in much the same way Feministing's mudflap woman flipping the bird logo is-- a catchy, iconic image that at once buys into and at the same time subtly subverts popular objectification. That is, if you skip over all of the "heavy" details, and keep your eyes on the larger prize of turning new people on to feminism.

I recommend this book to people in the teen age group who are not self-identified feminists, or even particularly interested in feminism but feel something is not quite "right" about the dominant paradigm, or older individuals who want a very clear, simple introduction to feminism. Ms. Valenti has done an excellent job of writing a book that does exactly what she intended it to do. She has done it so well, as a matter of fact, that I believe the book is, in some ways, a victim of its own success.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Dating Advice Part II: Too Bad I Can't Sue This "Doctor" For Malpractice

Another example of "Relationship Advice" gone terrible wrong. From the same Yahoo link as Mr. Katz's little missive on why we are all just stereotypes, Dr. Trina Read tells us to "Give Your Partner A Flirting Pass". She tells us couples should lighten up, and allow flirting to go on with outside people, because of the "good couple energy" it can produce. Then, Dr. Read tells us:

The fine art of innocent flirting has created many an after-party fight.

Sound like "good couple energy" creation to you? 'Cause it sure doesn't to me. But wait, she goes on:
The idea is, the more positive feelings you share with other people, the more you will get back.

Yeah... So, I "share" good feelings with my coworker by flirting with him, and he flirts back, and so I feel good...about my coworker. How does that help my relationship with my SO? Dr. Read illustrates by telling us how it works for her:
Ever since my partner emerged out of his I-can't-look-at-any-other-woman box with the freedom to flirt, he feels better about himself. He feels and acts sexy. He is more fun to be around. The end result is our relationship is stronger and healthier because he brings that positive energy home to me.

Ahh. NOW I get it. It's the same argument that women used to use about "letting" men have affairs. He feels sexier, (because OUR boring sex life just wasn't cutting it, poor thing)he comes home all revved up,(thinking about the other woman)and I can then pretend it's me he is all stiff over! Yay!

I just bet that does LOADS of good stuff for a relationship. I feel even more "sold" on the advice when Dr. Read gives her next line:
The irony is that he does not really even flirt. It's simply that he has been given a pass-card to flirt that has made all the difference.

Dr. Read sure does feel the need to qualify her "Flirting is Fab!" position with the qualifier "he does not really even flirt". I sense a little subtext, here. As long as he just feels like he can flirt, but doesn't, that's "good couple energy". If he started to actually, you know, flirt... Kinda reminds me of those "invisible fence" systems for dogs. Gives 'em the feeling of freedom, without actually being free. I also notice a distinct lack of narrative about her flirting. Is that because she leaves flirting to the "menz", or because she doesn't want to talk about what she really feels when she's chatting up some other guy?

Dr. Read downplays a "friend's" negative reaction to sanctioned flirting in a "conversation" she had on the subject (pretty convenient, eh?), and brushes aside the notion of being "insecure" as a barrier to such action. As a matter of fact, she waxes rhapsodic about the positive effects of jealousy in a relationship, provided it doesn't get "twisted into a full blown fight"- though she never tells us how to avoid that outcome. And that's an important deficiency, if you remember her pithy comment from earlier:
The fine art of innocent flirting has created many an after-party fight.

She tells the reader about setting mutual definitions of flirting, and boundaries, but that doesn't really solve the jealousy problem, does it? Because jealousy almost inevitably erupts over people stepping over the boundaries of "good clean fun". So the whole "jealousy is good" thing becomes a non sequitir, and the only "benefit" we are left with is the whole "trickle-down passion" thing.

"Trickle-Down" Economics was a bust, and I think "trickle-down" passion is, too.

Maybe Dr. Read and her partner are happy with their flirting agreement, though by her own description, I'd wonder if the whole thing wouldn't turn sour tomorrow if she felt he was "really" flirting. I, for one, think the whole premise of bringing "happy couple energy" in from someone who isn't a part of the "happy couple" a bit dodgy. I particularly think telling people who probably feel "insecure", as Dr. Read's "friend" does about opening the door, to toss inhibitions aside and go for it pretty suspect. But what does Dr. Read care if people read her hack piece on Yahoo, "give a free pass on flirting", and screw up their relationships?

It's not like a Doctor of Sexuality can get sued for malpractice, or anything.

The Dating Advice Industry, Or Why Should I Have To Deal With YOUR Lack Of Personhood?

I have Yahoo set as my homepage, mostly because the stuff on there is an unending source of fodder for blogging. A couple of days ago, the big "Y" came through for me again, in the form of some ultra-treacly "Luv Advice" from the rather large-eared gnome in the picture, a Mr. Evan Marc Katz. Mr. Katz's timely advice consisted of "11 Things Women Don't Know About Men, Plus One Thing They Do Know, But Probably Won't Admit".

This isn't "advice", it's the same old gender stereotypes, repackaged in nauseating list form. Any 10 year-old could probably regurgitate these old saws about "menz 'n wimminz" without much prodding:

1. Getting angry at us for not reading your mind is like getting angry at yourself for not being able to fly. It's not just futile, it's physically impossible.

2. Yes, we do think Jessica Alba is hot. Sometimes we're even dumb enough to admit it.

3. Don't ask us to understand your shoe fetish. Asking us to respect it is even sort of pushing it.

4. You do look good without makeup, just not as good as you look with it.

5. Ever notice how we don't fight with our male friends? That's why we get so frustrated when we fight with you.

6. You care what you're wearing infinitely more than we do. In fact, if you're naked when you open the front door, you won't hear an argument from us.

7. You don't like to get hit on in public, you don't want to date online and you don't want to be set up on blind dates. Tell us if sending messenger pigeons is an appropriate way of courting. Because if it is, we're all over it.

8. There should a statute of limitations on stupid things that we said that can come back to haunt us
There should a statute of limitations on stupid things that we said that can come back to haunt us. I propose 24 hours.

9. Cooking dinner for a man is like buying flowers for a woman, except it takes a lot more time, effort and thought for you to do it. Thanks. We appreciate it.

10. We actually like your girly pet-names for us, but please, not in front of the guys!

11. Just because we like looking at the women in Maxim doesn't mean we want to actually converse with the women in Maxim. Not for long, anyway.

12. Your nice guy friends are the most reliable source for telling you if your new boyfriend's a jerk. And he probably is. (By the way, you might want to consider marrying that nice guy who's giving you advice about the jerk.)

I'm not going to waste my time deconstructing this sexist wank-wank. If you are interested in that, Amanda did a good job on Pandagon a couple of days ago. Rather, I'd like to contemplate the kind of damage this stuff does to real people in real relationships. Even people who get that this is thinly-veiled bullshite end up paying an alarming price in their daily lives. When dating and relationships become "Us against Them", even if it is only OTHER people's relationships, we all loose. So, here is my list of "5 Ways Bogus Relationship Advice Torpedoes Actual Relationships" See how much more parsimonious I am than Mr. Katz? I don't even need to add in the patronizing "one you probably all ready know" for good measure.

1. When people start using gender-based shorthand to describe how other people think, it becomes a lot easier to dehumanize a partner.

2. People will live down to low expectations.

3. Pitting "Men" against "Women" introduces a win/loose mentality to relationships that justifies any behavior, so long as it allows you to "win".

4. Sexist stereotypes give convenient excuses for why things go wrong in relationships, allowing people to stop looking for the real sources of conflict.

5. Looking at relationships as "things" to "fix" misses the point entirely.

So, your saying, "No duh! Like any smarmy little list of relationship how-to prattle, everything you just said is obvious." And it is obvious, sitting here, reading it. But when you are in the throes of a dying love affair, or the heat of a fight, or having a dating loosing streak, social conditioning often kicks in, and the obvious flies out the window. When people are constantly bombarded with the same old tripe, day in, day out, a little can't help but seep in, around the corners. And that's bad. Nasty things get said to loved ones, feelings get hurt, and barriers get reinforced, which usually ends up escalating things even more.

What is even worse is how the people who buy into the stereotypes all of the time negatively impact the whole society. Here are a few examples of how this works. Example 1: Man buys into the idea expressed in Mr. Katz's #1. Women Expect Men To Be Mind Readers. He becomes bitter about situations where he has received messages from women he couldn't interpret. When he goes on dates with women, he decides that anything less than a, "No, I do NOT want to have sex" is either a "yes" OR just a bitch who wants him to read her mind, and he date rapes women on a serial basis. Example #2: Woman buys into #3. Women Are Supposed To Have Frivolous Spending Habits. All ready insecure about her own "femininity", the woman sees going on massive buying sprees as a way of "proving" she is a woman. She spends and spends, until she has spent her way into bankruptcy. Think stuff like this doesn't happen? Start looking around. And of course, both of the above scenarios have an impact on the wider community. And both, unwittingly, feed into the whole stereotype mess that started it all.

Oh, and Mr. Katz? That "nice guy"- the one who's supposed to be a woman's perfect love match? He's the real jerk. He plays women like instruments, too intent on "wining" the "game" to be honest about his feelings from the start, waiting to get an "in", pretending to be concerned about the woman's welfare, right up to the point he becomes her lover, when he starts comparing her unfavorably to Jessica Alba and whining about her shoes.

But you'r a Nice Guy (TM). You know that all ready, don't you?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Harry Potter: The Half-Baked Prince of Darkness?

OK. I'll admit it. I was never a big Harry Potter fan. I was in my early 20's when the series started, so I was too old to really get in on the phenomenon, and my son, born in '99, was really too young. Add to that the fact that I have always had an instinctive disdain for things deemed "popular", and it is no wonder that I had only the barest knowledge of what was going on in the Potter universe.

Until now, that is. My son will be entering third grade next year, and he struggles with reading. I have been looking for a series of books to read with him, and Potter seemed like the perfect fit. So, I started to read the books this summer, and I have now finished the third installment. That is why a particularly odd screed on the internet caught my attention- a little treatise on the Evil of Harry Potter.

Now, I was vaguely familiar with the fact that some people were against the Potter series, but as I had no basis to form an opinion one way or the other, I never paid much attention. Now that Potter is on my radar screen, I have started to pay more attention to such opinions. And to those who would call Potter a gateway to the practice of evil, I have only one thing to say: "Thppppth"!

Really, it's all quite absurd. Perhaps in the latter installments of the series, I'll see the gates to Hell flung wide, but the books I have read contain no such objectionable material. They are children's books, and that means they follow a pretty predictable formula. We meet the Hero, who is a misunderstood child (as most of the readers will fancy themselves to be) living in woeful circumstances. It is revealed to the Hero that he is, in fact, Special, and not of the sad and pedantic folk he has been surrounded by. He is whisked off to a Magical Place where he is able to develop and refine his Special Powers, in the company of sympathetic and like-minded individuals. However, Specialness comes with a price, and our Hero must face a variety of Villains intent upon his destruction. Through the uses of his Special Powers, and because of his Good and Brave nature, our Hero overcomes the villains in a spectacular show of wits and perseverance, and saves the day. There are sub themes of friendship, and coming to terms with the past, and the superiority of childish daring and initiative v. following adult rules (this is meant to appeal to kids, after all). However, at NO point is there any lifting up of "evil", and the "magic" used in the book is pure fantasy, and not in any way related to "real" witchcraft theory or practice. This is Star Wars without the spaceships, the Wizard of Oz without Oz.
So, when people say things like this, I've got to laugh:

"The premiere of Harry Potter the movie will lead to a whole new generation of youngsters discovering witchcraft and wizardry....Increasing numbers of children are spending hours alone browsing the internet in search of Satanic websites and we are concerned that nobody is monitoring this growing fascination." Peter Smith, general secretary of the British Association of Teachers and Lecturers [1

Oh, come on. "Satanic" sites? True "witchcraft", the religion Wicca, is no more Satanic than tying your shoes is "Satanic". "Satan" is from Abrahimic faiths, so THEY and THEY alone could be claimed to have "Satanic" content (It isn't a coincidence that the true "Satanist" movement has a "black Mass" and borrows liberally from Christian iconography.). Besides, if parents are concerned kids may be stumbling across evil websites, I'd think the answer to that would be better parental supervision on the internet, not a banning of Potter books or movies. The anti- Potter brigades talk a lot about what God "hates", and indoctrination in "Godly" ways, but oddly enough, hate and indoctrination seem to be largely absent from the Potter books themselves. At no point in MY reading have I seen anything that suggests anyone should "hate" God, or anything else (Hate is the root of the Villain's evil, and his downfall. The love of Harry's mother saved him as a baby from the wrath of hate). The books never try to indoctrinate anyone into a belief system, because there is NO belief system articulated in these stories, other than Good should triumph over Evil, which is pretty standard stuff.

So, other than the massive commercialization and cross-branding that always takes a good thing and reduces it to its tacky, commercial worst, I see no evil in Harry Potter. I do think the folks railing against it are a pretty scary lot, though. A day in a "godly" house that emphasized the proper "fear and reverence for God" would probably make Harry's summers with the Dursleys look like a day at the park.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Family Values Crowd Should Stop Lion

I'm going to let you in on a little secret: The Family Values crowd hates marriage.

Oh, they do. They really do. The above three pictures were featured on the blog of a woman named Jennifer Roback Morse, entitled "The Three Stages of A Man's Life". The first picture is "single", the second is "married", and the third is "divorced". Taken together, they say a lot about the real agenda of the FV brigade.

Ms. Morse is a part-time Research Fellow at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. The Acton Institutes's mission is "to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles." In other words, Family Values-ville, USA.

Again, it is my contention that Morse, along with her FV buddies, really hate marriage, contrary to their positioning as a pro-marriage, pro-family front. The FV folks are actually anti-woman, but they can't come out and say it. Yes, even though Jennifer Roback Morse purports to be a woman herself, her anti-woman agenda is clear.

Let's go back to the enchanting little lion pictures for a moment. Now they, in themselves, are nothing extraordinary. They are just a variation on the old "ball and chain" jokes that have circulated endlessly since time immemorial. You know; men, left to their own devices live a fancy-free existence, until a woman "ensnares" them, and makes their lives miserable. The new twist, courtesy of the liberalization of divorce laws in the last century, is the notion of the woman leaving the man "flat broke" and used up after divorcing him. Not a real glowing portrait of marriage, is it? Yet, this is a picture replicated with startling regularity by the FV crowd. If marriage is so "bad" for men, why do the FVers beat the drum about the importance of marriage all of the time?

Two reasons. First, they know the Lion scenario is false. Second, and most importantly, they support marriage as a means to an end, not an end to itself. Men don't suffer from marriage. They prosper as a result of it. According to the Heritage Foundation, A FV stronghold if ever their was one, married adults are happier and less likely to commit suicide. Other studies have shown that men in particular reap health benefits from marriage, and the economic benefits of marriage have been documented as well. The real agenda of the FV camp is social control. They want to keep a certain group- affluent white males- at the top of the the pecking order.

Marriage, as it currently exists, is but a shadow if its former self. In the not too distant past, it served dual-duty in the service of the patriarchy. It kept women in their place, by defining a very narrow "acceptable"role, and by putting them under the direct control of a man at all times. It also excluded the "unwashed masses" from full participation in society, because it was often difficult for people at the lowest economic rungs to enter into marriage, the maintenance of family was an all-consuming activity for the middle rungs, and the advantages of political alliance through marriage and inheritance were kept safe for the top rungs of society. In effect, marriage kept people at the bottom chasing their own tails, freeing up the top of the heap to do what they wanted. While today's "egalitarian" marriage does not exert the same kind of control, it is the best thing the FV crowd has at the moment, and that's why they are sticking to it. Make no mistake, though. Today's "egalitarian" model of marriage is NOT what the FV folks have in mind when they think about the "ideal" form of the institution.

Need more convincing? Look to the opposition the FV camp throws up to same-sex marriage. Remember my statistics from the Heritage Foundation earlier? The statistics that show people are better off when they are married? Well, this is the recommendation from the folks at Heritage in regard to same-sex marriage: " Adopt an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to protect the traditional definition of marriage." Yep. They don't care AT ALL about the well-being of the people in the relationships. Allowing for same-sex marriage would run counter to the REAL goal of the FV crowd, so of course, they aren't going to support it. Their disdain for the egalitarian ideal is made manifest with quotes like this, again from the Heritage Foundation, from a piece called Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers And Men:

The primary cause of this national crisis, that is the decline of the family, is
the feminization of the American male. The first thing you need to do is sit
down with your wife and say something like this: “Honey, I’ve made a terrible
mistake. I’ve given you my role. I gave up leading this family, and I forced you
to take my place. Now I must reclaim that role.

Of course, the piece concludes that the ONLY way to"reconnect" men with their family responsibilities and make them "sensitive" to their wife's needs is for the wife to submit to the "leadership" of her husband. Because the problem they see is NOT men doing less than they should, but women having more power than they should.

FVers hate women. And gays, and brown people, and basically anyone they see as standing in the way of the white male privilege juggernaut. They do not "love" marriage, despite what they say. They tolerate it, in its current form, only because they see it as a tool for reestablishing white male superiority. The minute they succeed in reestablishing the social order they want, all thoughts of "loving family relationships" will fall to the wayside. Because FVers don't really value families. They value what families can DO for white men.

Let's call shenanigans, and tell the Family Values crowd to stop lion.